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Back to Phase 2: What has changed in the manufacturing industry since COVID

Singapore is officially back to Phase 2 (heightened alert). For our foreign partners and customers, there has been a recent rise in Covid-19 cases locally, which led to the tightening of restrictions. Some of the measures include: social gatherings restricted to two people, dining-in is prohibited, and virtual classes for all schools. At the workplace, work from home is now the default, no cross-deployment of workers to multiple worksites is allowed, and social gatherings are not allowed at the workplace.

Given that we’ve all had one year’s experience with Covid-19, we’re definitely more prepared when it comes this round of sudden changes in social and workplace arrangements, unlike the mad scramble that many factories went into this time last year when most major economies entered lockdown. Many factories were trying to figure out how they could continue productions if their workforce had to work remotely, and when workplace interactions had to be kept to a minimum.

If there was any skepticism about whether the changes and trends brought about by Covid-19 are here to stay, I think we have our confirmation in 2021 that the new normal will replace previous working styles. So what has changed in the manufacturing industry since 2020? Here are a few of my observations one year on since Covid-19.

Digital transformation is no longer a good-to-have

The investment cost and inertia to change were some of the reasons we often hear when people considered digital transformation pre-covid. “If our existing systems are still working, why spend more money to change?” was something we heard quite often, and reasonably so. The process of digital transformation can be difficult.

Today, digital transformation is no longer just a good-to-have; it is a must-have. Out of necessity, companies had to jump on the digital transformation bandwagon as quickly as possible to ensure their factories continued functioning during the lockdown period.

Companies that already had a leg into the digital transformation process probably fared better last year. Whereas companies that still relied on legacy or manual systems would have struggled trying to adopt digital workstyles – and they had to do so in a matter of weeks.

Moving forward, IT innovations can no longer be ignored. We will all have to adapt to more efficient, more advanced ways of working to stay ahead of the curve.

Cloud-based solutions are the MVP in 2020

Factory operations have long been a very location-bound job. It was thought that one needed to be onsite to check production status, to check for any issues with the equipment, to coordinate operations between teams. With remote work regulations, Cloud-based solutions have made it possible to conduct most physical operations online.

Cloud-based solutions enabled operators to access real-time data anytime, anywhere and from any device. Furthermore, these solutions would come with data-analytics and data visualization capabilities, which allowed operators to gain deeper insights about their factory’s performance. It has made working more efficient, which is a win on all fronts!

Digital transformation solutions will become more affordable

With the heightened demand for digital transformation solutions, that also means that they will become more affordable, which is great news for many manufacturers!

One of the biggest misconceptions about digital transformation is that the solutions are costly, and implementation is lengthy.

Over the years, solution providers have developed a deeper understanding of what manufacturers need in terms of budget, solution type, implementation process and operation skill level as well. Today, there are plenty of plug and play solutions that require minimal programming to customize it to your operations.

If you’re still on the fence about which solution to get, speak with one of our expert consultants to get the latest recommendations! It is our commitment to help you achieve your desired smart factory goals.

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