Building Manufacturing Resilience Through Industry 4.0 is an essential activity for any manufacturer that wants to keep competitive.
In this article, I will look at connected risks associated with manufacturing in a global economy and how digital transformation can help mitigate these risks. I will touch on how short-term digital implementation can help resilience during the current global crisis and how long term the adoption of digital technologies is essential in order to retain resilience and protect against future global shocks.
You can also take a look at my interview during the Digital Manufacturing Week with the Institution of Engineering & Technology (IET) Here
Connected risks are when a local shock somewhere in the world spreads to become a global shock. COVID is an example of this but it is not the first nor will it be the last local shock to have caused a global shock.
These local shocks whether caused by a virus, terrorist attack, technical failure, natural disaster, climate change, or political or industrial action, can have an immediate or contagious global impact on manufacturing. Manufacturers need to understand how connected risks can affect them and take actions to mitigate these risks.
The Impact from COVID and Connected Risks
Manufacturing companies are reacting to the shock of COVID in different ways depending on their market sector.
Some are; right-sizing, vertically integrating by moving work from the supply chain in house, consolidating through M&A, diversifying into new markets, and reviewing their lean philosophy so that they have stock and capacity to survive disruption.
Impacts to global shocks can be categorised into four areas; changes in demand, access to supplies, infrastructure failure and societal Impacts and companies need to analyse how shocks could affect them, immediately and in future, in these different ways.
How can digital technologies immediately help manufacturers mitigate global shocks?
Companies should consider three immediate areas where digital technologies can help; improve insight and improve communications, undertake modelling and real-time monitoring and intervention.
Insight and communication can be improved by implementing off the shelf online tools such as Accounting, MRP, CRM, CADCAM and Digital Marketing tools. T-DAB can help you integrate these tools so that company oversight and specific dashboards can be obtained.
Modelling can be used to improve demand forecasting, design safe factory layouts and analysis supplier risks. The validity of current demand forecasting models is challenged by COVID as historical data is no longer valid. T-DAB can link your models to COVID related data such as political decisions and changes in customer sentiment that will increase their accuracy.
Predictive analytics is where real benefits, flexibility and increased productivity can be gained. It offers reduced machine downtime, reduced waste and material usage and optimise labour effectiveness. The first step is to connect to, collect and sort your data. Once achieved, predictive tools can be developed to delivery specific company needs.
Which digital technologies should we be looking to implement that will improve our resilience in the longer term?
The development of cognitive capability that not only augments human skills for undertaking routine and repetitive tasks, e.g. implementing robots and 3D printing, but will allow the machine to combine with humans to provide intelligent insight to assist with decision making and critical thinking, eventually even making some of the decisions themselves. A fundamental to this is the ability of machines to predict, with accuracy, events that will happen in the short-term future than to decide what actions to take to alter the predicted future delivering a better outcome.
Hopefully, you will all get through this current crisis but if you are not engaged with digital transformation now you may well not exist in the future.
Let us help you
I understand that times are very difficult for you now with a high degree of uncertainty and change.
Many companies are using this period to reflect and redefine their strategies for what could be a very different ‘normal’ in the future. Digital transformation and sustainability are at the centre of these strategies.
T-DAB can help you discover how to start your digital transformation journey, develop your strategies to give short term benefits, connect to your data and deliver the insights and predictive tools that will build your competitiveness and resilience and secure your future.