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How automation can help manufacturers navigate their recovery.

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COVID-19 has inevitably changed the way in which organizations around the world, in all business sectors, conduct their operations.

The virus hasn’t become the challenge but simply added to it – with existing struggles such as customer demand and accelerating the need to increase the efficiency of operations with Industry 4.0.

However, this combination of obstacles has only further highlighted an even greater need for smart manufacturing processes and the importance of technology to maintain flexible and agile operations, as manufacturers around the world experience a halt in production.

What are the challenges being faced by manufacturers? And, more importantly, what solutions can be applied to navigate recovery.

Challenges to recovery.

With 20 million layoffs in the U.S. alone, navigating recovery back to a pre-COVID state is going to take time and innovation. Labour shortages will continue to be an issue for manufacturing due to illness, fears over safety at work, existing skills shortages, and the potential damage to loyalty from previous employees after being let go.

Furthermore, of those employees with manufacturing-specific skills, 46% would look to change careers if they lost their job during the pandemic. That’s half the existing workforce in a sector already suffering from a skills shortage.

Solutions include changing the very fabric of your workforce and way of working by introducing new technology. Specifically, Automation.

Automation and innovation.

For larger-scale manufacturers, this may be an investment in manufacturing robots. Industrial robots can ease the pressure on dangerous work and continue to produce results 24/7, whilst collaborative robots work alongside employees to boost productivity.

Both options can bring quick wins for manufacturers struggling with a depleted workforce. Of course, it may be that to safeguard the bottom line, the employee count cannot be so quickly restored to aid recovery. In this situation, the innovation required will be one to maximize the efficiency of your remaining workforce, upskill teams as quickly as possible, and learn how to work smart.

“COVID-19 May Become ‘An Automation Forcing Event’”.

Source: Forbes

New on-site environment.

For workers who have continued to attend their workplace, shop floor, or the assembly line, the restrictions have been clear. From set distancing rules between people, increased hygiene and attempts to reduce any human contact, a move toward assisted production seems likely for future innovation.

“Before COVID human operators were placed at 0.6m intervals – that spacing will need to be significantly increased in order to meet guidelines to reduce virus transmission.”

Source: Forbes

This may come in the form of robotics, but also production A.I. to predict supply and demand, monitor repair concerns, and machine learning to evolve processes to become more efficient.

The rise of home working.

The long-established 9 to 5 work environment is a long overdue review. With the new significant health and safety rules, and attempts to socially distance and minimize contact between workers, isn’t it time we took a closer look and redesigned a workplace for the future? A future that better reflects the needs of a 24/7 society, one that is flexible, easily scalable, and easy to adapt.

One impact of the pandemic has been the rush to set up staff to work, where possible, from home. Whist office workers have had an advantage in this shift, the transition for business hasn’t been without strain. It has accelerated a move to integrating technology into the daily routine to meet and collaborate.

The ability for technology, especially SaaS products, to be accessed anytime, anywhere, has been critical to bridging the gap between internal teams and clients. Since the lockdown, sales-i users have stated that the shared CRM within the system has eased potential issues with lead contacts being furloughed as remaining staff can quickly review and act on the notes recorded.

Necessity is the mother of invention.

With the acceleration of technology entering the factory floor, could one solution to the skills shortage, health restrictions, and increased pressure to maintain production be off-site controlled fully automated manufacturing?

This would combine the benefits of productivity and employee home working to enable manufacturers to access the best talent (possibly globally) to run and oversee a new, highly technical factory. Although the extreme end of the automation scale, with Industry 5.0 predicted to be as close as 2030, is a case of when not if.

“This crisis accelerates us. It creates mass adoption of new technology and a flow of venture money into next-generation technologies that will probably be studied in the future.”

– Lee Coulter, IEEE

The pandemic, and similar crises facing the world, are speeding up the appetite for investing in new technology with Forbes predicting that five years of innovation will be condensed into the next 18 months in the manufacturing sector.

Business Intelligence for Manufacturers.

sales-i’s out-of-the-box sales enablement solution can save salespeople up to 165mins a day by releasing users from manual admin and reporting tasks. It automates customer and product alerts and produces data analysis in an easy-to-action format.

Teams can be up and running on sales-i within a few weeks. With tailored training and support that can have even the least technologically savvy employees fully use the system to discover data-driven insights to convert cross-sell and upsell opportunities.

With one of the most cited barriers to digital transformation in the recent Vanson Bourne survey, being in-house skills, choosing an intuitive, proactive software such as sales-i can make a real difference to the bottom line.


Would you like to know more about how sales-i can help your manufacturing business? Book your demo today.

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