Layoffs and Automation: How COVID-19 Has Affected the Machining Industry

It’s not a secret coronavirus (COVID-19) has affected all facets of life throughout the world. But how, specifically has it affected the machining industry? In this post, we’ll dive in with COVID-19 and machining. Specifically, we’ll talk about how the industry is coping with layoffs and using automation to survive.

Social Distancing

Across the board, social distancing has been one of the biggest protections when it comes to COVID-19. When in person, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has recommended staying at least six feet apart from anyone. That’s because respiratory droplets carrying the virus can travel when someone coughs, sneezes or even talks. If those droplets enter someone else’s lungs, then they are at a higher risk for contracting the virus.

Inside machine shops, that means possibly reconfiguring your space to adhere to the recommendations. It also means fewer people should be or can be within a workspace.

Unfortunately, the virus has also led to…


COVID-19 severely dented the economy this year. Because of this, several industries have experienced layoffs, and machining is unfortunately one of them. The virus has resulted in many businesses facing layoffs or ceasing to exist at all. According to The New York Times, 22 million people were thrown out of work in spring of 2020 alone.

According to, as COVID-19 experiences a second wave this fall, so are layoffs in the manufacturing world. The publication cites a Cornell, JQI and RIWI study that reports 31 percent of those who have already gone through a layoff and have been since called back, have already been laid off again—a second time. 

So, how can the industry survive?


Many machining companies are turning to automation in order to make ends meet during these tough times. SME Technical Writer Jeff Elliot recently wrote about this in his piece Layoffs, Social Distancing Drive Machine Shops to Automate Labor-Intensive Finishing Operations.

According to him, “many machine shops will likely be re-evaluating ways to eliminate labor-intensive manual operations if they can be automated instead.” Even after the pandemic ends and the world goes back to normal or adjusts to a new normal, the automation put in place now will help machine shops bounce back faster by saving time and money.

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Even through the rough times, Custom Tool & Grinding is here to help your machining business. Contact us to learn more about our services.