One of COVID-19’s hardest-hit markets is the manufacturing market. The impact of the pandemic on the global manufacturing industry was huge, especially because the manufacturing industry is one of those sectors that relies mainly on manpower for the operations.

A level of instability that has never been seen before is happening in the global supply chain. Some factories have completely stopped production, many have seen a significant reduction in demand, and others have seen a significant increase in demand. Every manufacturer is affected in some way by this crisis and this presents an existential challenge to many.

Even though in some parts of the world the effects of COVID-19 have started to recede, severe imbalances are likely to remain a part of daily life for some time to come, with executives continually facing significant challenges. For example, problems with unexpected shortages of materials, huge drops in demand, or workers’ lack of availability.

Industry 4.0 was gaining momentum before COVID-19, which involves automation, predictive analytics, robotics, and advanced manufacturing technology, helping businesses turn their operations in everything from operational efficiencies to product customization, with enhancements in product availability, service efficiency, and the creation of new business models.

As companies adapt to the next normal, managers are struggling with the question: How will manufacturing and its supply chains look after COVID-19?

The first answer will be that they are likely to become more digital, as is already obvious in the immediate response to the crisis. But, as businesses think about rebuilding operations and developing new strategies to cope with potential future crises, using digital technologies will be top of mind for many.

How technologies can help the manufacturing sector?

Cloud computing & Big Data

There is no question that cloud computing is the right alternative to use for remote official work in the manufacturing industry.

Cloud computing is a digital technology that involves the delivery of computer system resources over the internet such as servers, storage, databases, networking, intelligence. The executive employees can focus their efforts on this technology, even from the comfort of their home towns. All the data will be safely handled by the workers.

Also, operations managers can use Big Data in manufacturing to dive deeply into historical process information, identify trends and relationships between specific process steps and inputs, and then optimize the factors that have the biggest impact on yield.

Robots and machines

Obviously, now more than ever it is necessary to use robots and machines in the production industry. Many businesses all over the world are already using it and experiencing higher production rates with much less manpower. You can also consider the ways in which robots and machines can help your business to stay in shape during this crisis.

Replacing human repetitive tasks by automation, whether robotics or traditional, has been a trend for a long time, and the pandemic is only accelerating these ongoing trends.

Robotics is helping in not only simplifying the equipment itself but also ultimately streamlining the changeover operations, making them fully automatic or very easy to execute by a single operator — most of the time without any tool needed.

Internet of Things

This innovative technology will allow you to remotely access and control almost everything in your plant and office. You can find out more about the impact of IoT on the manufacturing industry from our article – How IoT Applications are Reshaping the Manufacturing Industry.

Basically, with IoT, you can not only monitor the robots and machines in your plants, but also simple items like light, fan, and so on.

IIoT can be crucial in ensuring business continuity and reducing economic damage by ensuring employee safety and security, improving liquidity, and lowering short-term costs.

The development of custom software

The importance of custom software for the manufacturing industry is huge. It can help you work efficiently and easily in this time of crisis, especially because you can develop the software according to your business needs and you can include any features you consider to be important.

Good software can help you control and plan industrial production, being able to stand out from the competition and boost the performance of your business. Software solutions mean that red flags can be raised and you can intervene before any major impact on production. You can also read more about the importance of custom software for the manufacturing industry HERE.

If you want to find the best software for the control and planning of the production line, which also adapts to the specific needs of your company, you will need a great development team. WebChain can help you!

Important technologies applied along the value chain

Connectivity, data, computational power

  • Sensors
  • Internet of Things
  • Cloud technology
  • Blockchain

Analytics and intelligence

  • Advanced analytics
  • Machine learning
  • Artificial intelligence

Human-machine interaction

  • VR & AR
  • Robotics and Automation

Advanced engineering

  • Additive manufacturing
  • Renewable energy

Few digital transformations can succeed without putting people at the center. Important factors that provide crucial support

  • Governance – a cross-functional team and governance structures can help to ensure quick execution
  • Top-management commitment – Leaders should celebrate quick wins to maintain interest from flagging, as well as failures that help the organization learn to fail fast and learn fast.
  • Digital capability acquisition – Skills gaps can be tackled by recruiting where required, as well as by upskilling current workers to perform even specialized digital roles, such as analytics interpreters, data developers, data scientists, or IoT architect.
  • Fresh ways of operating – Implementing agile working methodologies motivates teams with the tools, methods, and best practices to achieve success in a digital world.

Automation can improve quality, safety, and productivity

  • Machine vision for predictive quality control
  • AR glasses to help factory workers
  • Predictive analytics to optimize performance
  • Digital twin technology
  • Adaptive control to optimize yield and quality
  • Sensor-based data capture for KPI monitoring

In the span of COVID-19, all the major sectors of the manufacturing industry were struggling. Reduced demand and fragmented supply chain have been their big challenges. Nevertheless, with challenge comes opportunity. After the dust has settled, it will be crucial for the manufacturers to change and to adapt in order to remain relevant.

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