It’s an uncertain time for many businesses. Amid disruption to supply chains, factory closures and millions of people working remotely, the immediate future – for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) – remains unclear.

So, it’s inspiring to see a strong resurgence of industrial ingenuity as companies diversify over night – turning beverage into sanitizer production, and vacuum manufacture into respirator supply.

Still, as downturn management progresses, a recent survey revealed that many organisations are becoming increasingly concerned about the aftermath of the current situation. So, how are businesses adapting during this unprecedented period of agile manufacture?

What Does the Future Look Like?

For businesses that already digitalized processes and adopted strategies for remote working, the current shift in working culture may not be too much of a logistical issue. In fact, it took less than a week for TECHNIA’s 32 global sites to get back to business with minimal disruption.

But we’re experts in digitalization whose customers depend on our support through this challenging period. So, how is this change of circumstance affecting businesses that were less prepared to take on the immediate challenge on digitalization?

Almost all manufacturers will have restricted access to sites for critical personnel only while planning staggered shift patterns and implementing rigorous sanitary precautions. While managerial and engineering teams will depend on virtual private network (VPN) access to monitor crucial data and maintain operational visibility.

But rolling out VPN access for a sizable organisation is a significant undertaking. And unplanned downtime can quickly become unmanageable. For some manufacturers, the importance of digitalization will never have been more demonstrably argued.

How Are Supply Chains Being Affected?

For some time, China has been the first port of call for the manufacturing supply of electrical machinery and equipment, amongst much else. Thankfully, before the initial reports of lockdown across China, several global manufacturers had the foresight to stock up ahead of Chinese New Year. And as China tentatively opens up its border again, shipping rates are already showing signs of economic recovery.

As life in China returns to relative normality, we can expect to see some defining shifts in working culture beginning to trend globally. For example, e-commerce, remote working and virtual classrooms have all proved their appeal and scalability.

However, the effect on some major supply chains has exposed fundamental complications to regional supply. And we’re likely to see a shift from globalization to regionalization as a matter of industrial security. As current circumstances have only highlighted the extent to which China’s output supports global manufacturing processes.

A Shift In the Workplace Economy

During the past hundred years, machines have taken over many tasks previously performed by hand. And for the longest time, there’s been concern over job displacement because of this.

However, the fact remains that technology has created more jobs than it’s taken. And the increasing demand for advanced cognitive, socio-behavioural and adaptability skills is a knock on effect. With technology that replaces routine work creating over 23 million jobs across Europe from 1999 to 2016, more people can work remotely than ever before.

This shift in the workplace economy is part of a greater industrial movement, where data and data analyses are the key differentiators for innovative manufacture. Where consumer demand is the direct informant of product development. And business scalability is no longer dependent on a physical entity, but a digital one.

The Only Progress Is Human

The real progress behind digitalization is the empowerment of employees and consumers. Technological advancement continues to increase life expectancy; provide better access to education and health care; and make safer, better paid jobs available to a broader range of workers. As of right now, digitalization is keeping millions of people at work, from home.

Join the digital pioneers at the PLMIF Virtual Experience from April 28th 2020 to learn more about sustainable product development and digitalization!


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