The total of the coronavirus-impact is still unknown, and might take years to fully analyze. What's clear right now is the impact to metal production—specifically steel. As this crisis unfolds, metal manufacturers will need to heighten their ability to forecast demands from the building sector (we're already battling the automotive, oil and gas industries as well).

Industries that were deemed non-essential for a period of time reduced the demand for steel. The construction industry, with most jobsites shut down, was part of this halt in demand. Producers of metal require long leads to idle and restart their mills, which presents more significant challenges.

According to a recent survey from the National Association of Manufacturers, about 80 percent of manufacturers, metal and otherwise, expect this pandemic to have a major financial impact on their production and overall business practices.

No one can be sure what's going to happen with our economy in the near future, let alone the distant one. While other industries prepare for their own halt in demand for industrial metals such as aluminum, copper and steel, it's logical that our industry will also have to prepare for a slowdown.

What supply chain disruptions await us and for how long? How long will the recovery take? Some economic forecasts suggest recovery will take at least a year, based off of prior crisis' our industry has faced. What’s clear is that metal manufacturers should prepare to enter a new era of production.

It’s important to point out also that our industry will be battling for resources against foreign markets (countries who are facing their own struggles and shortages). From balancing material shortage to focuses on critical infrastructure and how that pertains to protecting public health—a sure major focus of design and construction moving forward—our next era of construction will be one for the ages.

Do you have your own thoughts on the status and future of our industry? I’d love to hear them!