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IndustryNet Blog

Desperately Seeking Supplies: Inside the Critical Infrastructure Manufacturing Supply Chain

Posted by IndustryNet on Wednesday, April 1, 2020


U.S. manufacturers are scrambling to adjust to an economic landscape radically altered by the coronavirus outbreak. A number of companies have temporarily closed due to state “stay at home” orders, exposing large gaps in the supply chain.

Others have remained open and have overhauled their facilities at breakneck speed to produce lifesaving equipment, with new supply chains coalescing around the need for vital supplies such as masks, gowns, and ventilators.

Many manufacturers are not only open for business but are ramping up production to meet the needs of this growing crisis.

Yet, according to a new survey by the ISM, 75% of American companies are experiencing supply chain disruptions due to the toll coronavirus has taken on global supply chains.

Many are in need of new suppliers as they retool their facilities, and some have seen their old supply lines fall to the wayside.

Across the country, businesses have been divided up into “essential” and “non-essential” with essential businesses allowing to remain in operation, but these designations can differ greatly from state-to-state.

But consistent, nationwide, is the directive that industries supportive of critical infrastructure remain open, and that is what we are going to focus on today.

What is “Critical Infrastructure” Manufacturing?

Manufacturers that operate within the nation’s “critical infrastructure sectors” have been allowed to remain open during the coronavirus outbreak.

These sectors are determined by the the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), a division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

But which industries, exactly, are considered “critical infrastructure?” There are the obvious sectors, such as defense and energy, but there are actually sixteen distinct critical infrastructure sectors manufacturers and suppliers should be aware of.

The full list is as follows:

• Chemical
• Commercial Facilities
• Communications
• Critical Manufacturing
• Dams
• Defense Industrial Base
• Emergency Services
• Energy
• Financial Services
• Government Facilities
• Healthcare & Public Health
• Information Technology
• Nuclear Reactors, Materials & Waste
• Transportation Systems
• Water and Wastewater

Within the “critical manufacturing sector” listed above, there are a number of sub-sectors. But also, a number of manufacturing subsectors can be found within other categories on this list. Let’s break that down.

“Critical Manufacturing” Sectors: What Are They?

The COVID-19 outbreak has underscored the critical role manufacturing plays in everyday life and in times of crisis.

As demand surges for medical supplies, food and household products, certain industry subsectors have gone into overdrive.

Some of these industries are found under the “Critical Manufacturing” division as defined by the CISA and are directed to remain open.

These critical manufacturing sectors include primary metals, machinery manufacturing, electrical equipment and transportation equipment.

Specific sub-sectors within these industries are designated “critical” by the CISA:

• Iron Mills
• Steel Mills
• Ferro Alloy Manufacturing
• Aluminum Production & Processing
• Nonferrous Metal Production/Processing
• Engine and Turbine Manufacturing
• Power & Transmission Equipment Manufacturing
• Earth Moving, Mining, Agriculture and Construction Equipment Manufacturing
• Electric Motor Manufacturing
• Transformer Manufacturing
• Generator Manufacturing
• Vehicles and Commercial Ships Manufacturing
• Aerospace Products and Parts Manufacturing
• Locomotives, Railroad and Transit Cars and Rail Track Equipment Manufacturing

According to MNI's U.S. Manufacturing Industry Business Database there are thousands of companies encompassed by these subsectors, including 3,982 in the machinery subsectors listed.

Additional Manufacturing-Related Sectors Defined by the CISA as Critical

The manufacturing subsectors listed above are vital components of the supply chain, but there are several additional manufacturing industries found under other critical subsectors.

1. Defense

The Defense Industrial Base Sector encompasses a wide range of manufacturers, including weapons manufacturers, defense systems manufacturers, shipbuilders and military aircraft manufacturers.

2. Food

U.S. food manufacturers and processors have come into focus throughout this crisis, with many cranking up production to keep the nation’s grocery stores and food establishments supplied as consumers stock up on essentials. According to IndustrySelect, there are currently 22,485 food manufacturers currently in the U.S.

3. Chemicals

Like food manufacturers, the American public relies heavily on the chemical sector, producing pharmaceuticals, cleaning products, personal care products, and services multiple other critical sectors like agriculture.

CISA lists five specific chemical subsectors that are deemed essential:

• Basic Chemicals
• Specialty Chemicals
• Agricultural Chemicals
• Pharmaceuticals
• Consumer Products

4. Energy

CISA includes a wide range of facilities that fall under the critical energy sector, fall into these categories, including coal processing plants, nuclear and power plants, hydroelectric plants.

According to MNI's Global Energy Industry Business Database, there are roughly 69,000 of these types of locations in the U.S., including those involved in electric generation, transmission & distribution; exploration and production.

5. Transportation

The critical transportation sector includes vital systems and services, like passenger and freight rail, highway and motor carrier and pipeline systems. The transportation sector relies heavily on U.S. manufacturers to supply parts and components to keep things running.


The U.S. manufacturing supply chain has been upended by the coronavirus outbreak. While many industrial companies have seen their global supply chains disrupted by the virus, others have retooled and are making new products to support medical and hospital staff.

While many manufacturers have needed to close their doors due to “stay-at-home” orders, others have been deemed “critical” to the nation’s infrastructure and are cranking up production.

These manufacturers are in need of new supplies and services to help keep their operations growing.

Be a Visible Part of the New Supply Chain

Now, more than ever, your company needs to be front and center with the supplies, products, components and services vital to critical manufacturing sectors.

IndustryNet is a direct path for U.S. industrial suppliers to increase their visibility among domestic industrial procurers.

Based on trusted MNI data, IndustryNet is a free industrial marketplace, connecting millions of industrial buyers with 400,000 U.S. manufacturers and suppliers of more than 10,000 types of products and services. Click here to learn more.

Read More: Why Advertising is So Crucial for Manufacturers in the Time of Coronavirus



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