Crisis presents opportunity for manufacturers to reassess their digitalisation

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 to look at it in terms of changing factories and jobs to fit the next generation of workers, rather than trying to change the younger workforce to fit today's factories and jobs.

The other two topics can be addressed by embracing Industry 4.0 technologies. "Perhaps this crisis is the singular event that causes many companies to actually take a first, concrete step," Hogendoorn suggests.

"It doesn't have to be big, and it doesn't have to go plant wide, it just has to be something tactile -- something that gives everyone confidence that bigger steps can be taken and bigger plans should be made."

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