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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 CNBC.com, 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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The current global health crisis is also a business and economic crisis and will change the way we work, with a greater focus on technology. That's according to Nigel Green, CEO of financial advisory firm deVere Group, who says that a recession triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic will lead to a "fundamental shift" in how we live, do business and invest. In particular, Green expects to see an acceleration in the adoption and development of Industry 4.0, or the fourth industrial revolution, reports technology and business news provider Verdict. "The coronavirus outbreak can be expected to speed up the so-called fourth revolution, which is fuelled by new technologies such as artificial intelligence and mobile supercomputing," he said. The physical distancing and self-isolation measures currently in place around the world are likely to help reinforce the adoption of digital technologies, Green added. "Enforced social distancing will highligh
A crisis is a defining moment, and it can take a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic for people -- and companies -- to find the courage to make significant changes to the way they do things. In the manufacturing industry, the pandemic represents an opportunity for firms to reassess their digital strategy, writes Paul Hogendoorn in an article for Manufacturing Automation. The current crisis is of sufficient magnitude that the trajectories of many businesses will be altered, Hogendoorn explains. How they fare will be to a large extent affected by the decisions and choices they make. Hogendoorn goes on to discuss the three most common conversations he had with manufacturers before the pandemic struck: - the challenge of digitising their work flow; - gaining visibility into their production condition in real time; and - the need to make their factories and jobs more attractive to a younger work force. When it comes to attracting the next generation into manufacturing, we need t