Manufacturers turn to automation and smart tech as coronavirus hits production

The coronavirus pandemic is likely to hasten the rollout of automation and smart technology in the manufacturing industry.
Government rules aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19 have kept employees at home and disrupted supply chains. As a result, manufacturers around the world have been forced to chose their factories and radically rethink how they operate.
In a recent article for, Rebecca Fannin looked at how the virus has impacted manufacturers based in China, the first country to be hit by the virus.
The biggest impact was seen in sectors with large assembly operations such as auto manufacturers and electronic component makers. Resuming production "has been a struggle" at many factories, but highly automated plants such as Cadillac's new Shanghai facility had a head start, Fannin explained. 
The Cadillac factory, opened in 2016, has 386 robots and two fully automated production lines that do welding and painting.
One clear, long-term impact of the crisis on China's automotive, consumer electronics and smartphone makers will be an emphasis on robotics and automation, Fannin believes. Such technology can reduce labour costs and increase productivity -- and help prevent future plant shutdowns.
China had already been investing heavily in manufacturing tech over the past few years, becoming the world's largest market for industrial robotics and the fastest-growing market worldwide, according to the International Federation of Robotics.
The virus outbreak has put a "renewed urgency behind the trend towards increased automation and use of robotics in China," Emil Hauch Jensen, vice president of sales at Mobile Industrial Robots in Shanghai, told CNBC.

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