Initial analysis of the first 200 responses to the PLG’s survey of the impact of coronavirus measures on photonics and acoustics industries shows 85% of manufacturing organisations have been able to continue production, with half of these organisation reporting only a minor impact capacity. The impact has been more severe among those providing high value services, particularly to acoustics where one third of firms report more than a 50% drop in short-term turnover.
The strong resilience of photonics and acoustics is being demonstrated by half of all photonics companies and one quarter of acoustics organisations indicating they have no intention to apply for support. Seven out of ten respondents overall indicated they were making use of, or intend to make use of one or more of the UK government business support schemes, with 1 in 20 indicating they had difficulties securing support.
Across all photonics and acoustics organisation it is the impact on the order pipeline that is causing greatest concern with many reporting a significant lengthening of the sales cycle and difficulty closing new orders. More than half of all manufacturing organisations also highlight difficulties in importing key components in their top three challenges.
Looking to the future, the general prevalence of uncertainty is supported by ~20% of respondents saying it is too early to predict what the impact will be in a years time. However where people did express an opinion ~30% currently predict business turnover and investment will return or even increase over pandemic levels in a years time. The potential for the pandemic disruption to foster new innovations is supported by one half of all respondents predicting new product development plans will remain the same or even increase.
Aside from the obvious lifting of stay-at-home social distancing restrictions more than half of photonics and acoustics organisation report the ability to have face-to-face meetings and access to customers will be important to getting back to pre-virus business levels. Notable the removal of European and intercontinental travel restriction is much more important to photonics and acoustics manufacturing organisations – a reflection of the international markets they address. Nevertheless, nine out of ten respondents still predict a significant increase in remote/home working and the use of virtual remote meetings in the longer term
The survey remains open for additional inputs and updates will be released if statistically significant additional responses are received.