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COVID-19: A wake-up call for accelerating Digital Transformation in Manufacturing

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Today, perhaps nothing is more on the top of people’s minds than the novel virus. 

Every leader across the globe has shifted his/her single-minded focus on impeding the pace of transmission of the coronavirus to help the larger community battle against this crisis. 

Covid-19 has demonstrated why manufacturers need to rethink and rewire plant operations and supply chains

With the exponential number of coronavirus cases rising every day, manufacturers, supply chain, logistics, and distribution are being put to test like never before.

The current pandemic has also brought forth how poorly digitised most plants are. In these chaotic times, when thousands of medical personnel and healthcare facilities need support, manufacturers must turn to data-driven operations for truly agile, resilient, and scalable operations.

Digital Transformation has now assumed a greater relevance to the manufacturing world

Manufacturers must rethink and leverage digital technologies to manage the current crisis that will help overcome inventory bottlenecks and sail through the global catastrophe. Digital transformation promises a wave of benefits to manufacturing companies for up-to-the-minute visibility into critical medical and retail inventory. The end-to-end transparency helps manufacturers for rapid production, optimal distribution and better employee safety. 

As promising as Digital Transformation in manufacturing seems, not everyone is equipped for digital success. Through a binocular vision, the reality of digital transformation looks tragically bleak. Industrial Organizations that once zipped past to make real progress in digital are now making a blind march towards oblivion, a few others seem to have lost sight of the summit and are tending to unshakeable fatigue that’s creeping in and the rest, nursing broken backs and limbs after a tragic fall.

However, several roadblocks are preventing the adoption of digital transformation across the factory floor. This can deter the massive scale benefits of digital transformation and curtail the impact on manufacturing operations.

Listed below are the top three COVID-19 manufacturing and supply chain bottlenecks that are currently restraining the production and flow of essentials like medical equipment, PPE, N95 masks, and sanitizers:

Erratic production flows: Also known as build-up of accumulation where manufacturing operations lines have the erratic process flows that can lead to stocking up of long queues. These bottling lines can be a result of inputs coming in faster than what the processes can handle at a given point in time. The result can be a massive bottleneck where time and resources get wasted on trying to free up these bottling queues. 

Siloed Data Streams: The sheer amount of data exceeds the capacity for analyzing that data in many organizations. As a result, many manufacturers struggle to make sense of the overwhelming amount of information across their siloed systems. With disparate systems that are not connected, data silos make it nearly impossible to get a single source of truth. Operations managers, therefore, suffer from multiple versions of processes, most of which are often redundant. 

Equipment Constraints: Industrial machinery is often the most complicated, and even having stable maintenance processes cannot assure the prediction of breakdowns. Machines and equipment bottlenecks can simultaneously be the simplest and most complicated ones to take. These bottlenecks are a result of highly specialized and complex machinery, the breakdowns of which can result in sometimes year-long waiting periods, requiring substitutes with less productive machines. This can directly affect the speed of production for your manufacturing facility.

When technology reaches beyond boundaries

The application of digital transformation in these unprecedented times are endless. By enabling hundreds of manufacturers to deliver essential commodities at speed and scale, digital can indeed ensure help reaches at the right time to the affected communities. Now where in manufacturing would digital have the most significant impact, however, is one of the most profound problems found in operations everywhere.

Guest Post:

Contributed by Anita Raj, Technology Evangelist – Industry 4.0 and AI

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