The last couple of years has been hard for industries worldwide. Extensive pressure to ensure business continuity while adapting to the work-from-home policy pushed multiple industries on the brink of extinction. While the service-based companies managed to quickly adjust to the changes, the production companies, largely the manufacturing sector, struggled to sustain the test of time.
The gap between demand and supply followed by the scarcity of resources resulted in a severe loss. However, this did not last for long. Showing great resilience and adopting a ‘do-it-now’, ‘do-it-fast’ approach, the sector digitised most of its operation, quickly switching to smart manufacturing.
From deploying industry-graded tools to adopting advanced processes, automation is in full swing in the manufacturing sector. Probably this is the reason why the industry recorded an unexpected 7.2% growth in the second half of 2021. Moving forward, the industry needs to further attune itself with the ongoing digital transformations, setting the path for a smarter future ahead.
The year 2020 and 2021 has been quite challenging for the sector, and 2022 will be no different. Hence, the need to address the unsolved problems, and prepare themselves for the upcoming digital revolution.
Survey results indicate that there would be 3.5mn unfulfilled jobs in the manufacturing sector by the end of 2025. This is because of the fact that a huge chunk of the existing workforce consists of baby boomers who are soon to retire, creating immediate vacancies. Also, the last few years have accelerated the adoption of advanced tools and technologies, automating most of the processes. While this helped reduce the manpower, it also mandated the need for a smarter and diversified workforce. Meaning that the industry today requires a workforce that is equipped in handling modern-day machines, have an analytical mindset and can proactively contribute to the entire process. So even though there are thousands of trained workmen, the skill possessed fails to meet the industry requirements.
Industry 4.0 is a vast concept and takes into account every sector. When it comes to manufacturing, industry 4.0 is all about transforming the line of processes in a way that the resultant is adaptive, responsive and cohesive. A major role played is in the supply chain and logistics department. While the production line has adopted some level of automation, the supply chain is still disoriented, lacking transparency and data visibility.
Furthermore, poor inventory management leads to mass shortages of raw materials, thereby creating a huge demand-supply gap. Shipping delays is another major drawback and a challenge that the sector needs to overcome as early as possible. Having a clear understanding of the distribution process, adopting the software for real-time tracking and remote monitoring will help mitigate supply chain and inventory management limitations.
Automation has been the talk of the manufacturing industry even before the pandemic struck. Where a few have already made the transition, others were at least thinking about it. As the pandemic took over the entire world, the pace of adoption triggered. More and more companies started moving their operations on digital platforms, automating the ones that did not require manpower. Indeed, it is clear that digital transformation is the only way the manufacturing sector could survive the fall.
When it comes to processing automation and robotic process integration, the manufacturing sector needs to analyse and assess a variety of factors. From prioritising which activities require automation to managing costs, quality and end-to-end productivity, the road ahead has a bundle of obstacles that manufacturers need to deal with.
One of the crucial things that have caught the light in recent times is the need for sustainable solutions. The manufacturing industry has for long been a major contributor to pollution-causing an array of environmental hazards. However, in wake of the ongoing crisis, experts have expressed concerns and are now working to adopt methods that are green and safe. Not only this but the industry also needs to cut down on energy consumption, embracing eco-friendly solutions.
To put it this way, sustainable manufacturing is the present and future of the industry. In order to continue operating, business leaders need to assess their existing processes, analyse their impact and further outline manufacturing methods that are in the best interest of the environment, as well as the organisation.
As said by Arun Sundararajan, NYU Stern School of Business professor and digital transformation researcher: “Crisis can be… a catalyst or can speed up changes that are on the way — it can almost serve as an accelerant.” Similar is the case with the ongoing crisis in the manufacturing sector. Each of the aforementioned challenges needs to be addressed, analysed and solved at the earliest.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy, one that we propose is filling in the skill gap, adopting VR-based training solutions to train the workforce and stepping forward to a virtual ecosystem, one where you can empower your workforce with an immersive and responsive learning
environment. Know more about the groundbreaking solution here.
Think Phygital, Think AjnaXR Station!