COVID-19 IMPACT SURVEY MAY 2020
The worst affected industry in this pandemic driven crisis is manufacturing with its complex supply chains, labor intensive processes, and interdependencies. Division of labor, modular manufacturing strategies, outsourcing to reduce costs and increase the efficiency, consistency, and quality of each operations, have made the manufacturing sector most vulnerable amid the lockdown restrictions. As upstream, midstream and downstream sectors of manufacturing feel the ripple effect of disruption, Prepreg (Pre-impregnated Composite Fibers) also a key part of the value chain is expected to feel the heat. A revised outlook pegs the global market size at a projected US$7.5 billion for the year 2027. An indication of the grim state of affairs is the fact that global manufacturing PMI is already declining and will fall to an estimated all-time low of 35.4 points in 2020 as compared to 53.8 in 2019. This indicates severe contraction of manufacturing activity including new orders, production, employment, supplier deliveries, inventories, customers' inventories, commodity prices, order backlog, new export orders, and imports. Business investment confidence is tumbling amidst poor demand, falling profits, liquidity crunch and a reeling global economy. The "great lockdown" of 2020 has crushed the global economy and with it the manufacturing sector.
The COVID-19 pandemic will have lasting long-term economic, social and political impact. To curb the pandemic, governments have and will continue to impose strict lockdowns and ban on all non-essential business operations, thus bringing all economic activity to a virtual halt. SMB manufacturers will be worst affected with over 50% of SMEs voicing uncertainty over their companies' ability to survive the corona virus-related shutdown. The automotive industry which is facing the worst ever business disruption with production plants being shutdown both as a result of lockdown measures and falling demand, poses the biggest growth challenge for the prepreg. Decades of untiring OEM focus on vehicle performance and strength has made automotive prepreg materials important in production. New vehicle sales are rapidly declining as unemployment rates surge and consumer confidence plummets. Global auto industry's gross value-added is expected to erode by over 12. 2% by the end of 2020 when the recession hits its peak. Under this scenario, raw material and component value chains are being severely impacted. Like the automotive sector, other end-user industries for prepreg are also reeling under a vastly similar impact.
Given that maintaining focus on achieving part uniformity, consistent quality and superior surface finishes in product manufacturing is critically important, the market's growth fundamentals will nevertheless bounce back once the economic climate improves. From their early applications in the aerospace industry, prepregs are today used in a wide spectrum of industries including automotive, sporting goods, high temperature components, electronic-transmission systems, A/C ducting and in products with high impact surfaces. Major benefits offered include corrosion resistance, high specific stiffness and strength, lightweight, reduced curing time, faster manufacturing, and higher production line throughput. In the post COVID-19 period carbon fibers prepregs will witness robust demand given its many material benefits which are invaluable in automotive and aircraft parts and components manufacture. Resumption of manufacturing growth will fuel commodity prepreg applications. Also, during this period, chopped prepreg molding compound will gain in popularity. In a return to business as normal scenario, Asia-Pacific including China, will continue to be led by a recovery of growth in automobile production, increased applications in general engineering and strong demand for structural prepregs for renewable energy structures against the backdrop of growing government investments in ensuring energy sustainability and security.