Industry 4.0: Enhancing Digital Transformation in a COVID-19 Era

The globe is currently in an interesting state of transitions. In a time where we are being taught to expect global interruptions due to various types of phenomena every four years or so, living through the current experience of the COVID-19 pandemic is one that we will remember in our lives for a very long time. Fortunately, there are parts of the world where the impact of COVID-19 has receded, and life is somewhat returning to normalcy.

For some individuals, they have had to make several changes to their lives, and in the industrial and business realms, many executives have had to face the new pressures associated with keeping a business alive in the era or social distancing. In areas like Asia, supply chain disruptions were experienced, as well as shifts in demand and worker unavailability. All of these changes and impacts in the various business influences are bound to keep the organization in a state of uncertainty. As an organization, it will be very important for an industrial organization to smooth out its operations.

Volatility in the supply chain is something that new industrial CEOS and management teams will have to smooth out. Before the pandemic, it was a contingency that was imagined and somewhat planned for. In reality, it is something that has had to be adjusted to and adapted to. All industrial businesses are adjusting to their current normal, and industrial executives are currently grounding themselves in the present, and preparing themselves for the future.

How are manufacturing supply chains expected to shift?

Firstly, the move in all spheres of business is towards the digital realm. Industry 4.0 has never been more important as a lever for industrial business optimization. With an increase in communications across the supply chain, and also building in redundancy into the existing chains to ensure adequate supply, the changes are quickly being deployed. Within the manufacturing realm itself, organizations are also in the process of increasing their automation and including new additions like cobots, in order to ensure that the work load can be covered in the absence of humans due to a stay at home policy.

Automation is being accelerated by the current pandemic. Increased connectivity is being enabled via mediums like the industrial internet of things (IIOT). Increased industrial foresight is being accelerated by the advances and availability of data analytics. Operations transformations are now the order of the day. With improved operations capabilities, companies can manage to keep themselves afloat.

Where does Industry 4.0 fit into a COVID-19 era?

Industry 4.0 is now poised to rise, as it becomes more critical in the current pandemic. All industrial entities that utilized digital solutions during this time, are outperforming their counterparts who did not utilize this tool during the crisis. Businesses, cannot remain at a reduced operational flow forever, and operational restoration by any means necessary is what companies are seeking today in order to boost their operations. Looking in key features like ensuring that supply chinese are well managed, and that employees are keen in digital optimization will be the key to business success. Utilizing tools like digital performance management will enhance the optimization process. What gets measured is what will get managed.

Agility is going to be key for organizational success. New normals will have to be embraced by all  involved in the operational activities. When it comes to manufacturing operations tools like digital twins, and even the advent of converting some, or all of the operations into lights out operations can help to optimize the operations. Cybersecurity will also be an important factor to consider, as all these digital enhancements are being implemented into the organizational sphere.

Where do we go from here?

While now is the point at which we are all able to reflect and see that those entities that were already thinking ahead, and had planned for the future are now the ones who are thriving, there is still room for improvement in all spheres. With various systems optimizations tools readily on the market, companies can engage with the relevant supply chain, IT and process control consultants that will ensure that they will be able to drive the change that they desire.

We won’t know how long the COVID-19 pandemic will last for, but one thing that we can do is actually adapt to the condition, and learn to operate our industrial sites in as safe a manner as possible. Brainstorm with your teams, execute your ideas, and allow yourselves to be as creative as you can in a time that warrants it.