April 22, 2020
I think many of us right now are caught at a point where we are either looking back at where we were, or forward in hopes of better to quench the worry and uncertainty of the times. And although we have heard it often, we will come through this, and it is those who are focused forward that we all need to follow.
To put things in perspective and consider how the current situation has affected those working in automation and control markets, Panel Builder US conducted a nation-wide survey to gain insight into how this is affecting your industry.
The survey returned nearly a hundred results from Manufacturers, Control Distributors, Engineering Firms, Systems Integrators, OEM’s and dedicated Panel Shops.
Engineering firms responsible for designing and specifying panels provided the highest results at 39%. Followed by OEM’s and System Integrators at 18% each.
Secondly, we asked respondents to identify the current activity level of their company. And although we knew the results would vary for a national survey, the results are certainly more positive than anticipated.
There is no question that all industries have been hit hard and those working in automation and control are no different. However, with many sectors in complete shutdown only 7% of respondents noted that all work was on hold. Certainly, things are difficult with 3% only performing emergency services, 19% on reduced hours and 20% having had to commit to layoffs. But 52% are at full operating capacity, which does show promise that the panel building market has not completely halted and with demand still in place it will likely be a quick sector to rebound.
When looking more closely at the specific responses we can make some deeper insights. Manufacturers and Engineers had the highest result for working at full capacity at 65%, while 35% of systems Integrators and OEMs identified they are at full working capacity. One key point is with manufacturers still operating at a hgiher level there is hope that supply chains will be less imapcted than some fear.
We should also look at these numbers for what they simply are, a point of fact that although many are affected, and much work has slowed the industry you serve has not ground to a halt. Panel building is vital to our future and continues to move forward.
As part of survey we also respondents to comment on how the current situation is affecting their work and we received a wide range of responses. Overall the most direct and common response was working remotely and doing the best we can (For this I comment you all, it is not an easy to task but from coast to coast the comments about safety and protection were consistent). There were also several notes about added PPE being worn when in the workplace.
There were certainly some negative points about the difficulties of working from home and the issues that arise with not having all the necessary tools or software access, however many noted that they are being patient and are working and supporting their clients as best as possible remotely. All in all, the responses were somber but also were largely focused on safety, maintaining operation however that may be and planning for the future. There is almost a buzz among the answers for the future, and that anticiaption will surely translate into the industry when the time comes to fully engage it again.
Finally, we also wanted to learn about whether companies are also increasing their digital learning opportunities. For this we asked how likely companies are to attend virtual events and webinars and what topics they are most interested in learning about.
Of those surveyed 41% said they were likely to attend events while 18% noted they were highly likely. This demonstrates that currently 59% of professionals in the panel building market are currently considering engaging in virtual events and webinars. And with another 17% undecided it is only 24% of people that are unlikely to engage.
Regarding desired topics there was a very broad range of ideas presented, each of which we will be addressing and attempting to develop content to support. The most desired topics were industry trend information, industry 4.0, IIoT Trends, Technical and Product information sessions, safety training and technical training on remote system control.
In all, the impact has been substantial, not just on those in the US but around the world. And although many have individually felt pressure there is light at the end for an industry that will certainly weather the blows coming its way and will continue to advance.