The post-COVID19 world has seen an acceleration in digital transformations across sectors and geographies, with businesses and individuals more readily adopting new technologies in the context of a large-scale quarantine. In particular, the manufacturing sector, heavily dependent on critical shop floor workforce and susceptible to volatility in supply chains, has faced many challenges during this critical period, which has brought about discussions about the next frontier in manufacturing technologies. Industry 4.0 consists of technologies for connectivity, advanced analytics, automation, and advanced manufacturing, and was gaining momentum even before COVID-19, helping companies transform their operations to generate more value. However, the importance of Industry 4.0 technologies has become even clearer in the context of a global pandemic that is forcing people to avoid contact with one another. In fact, in one survey, about 70 percent of executives said the pandemic is likely to accelerate the pace of their digital transformation.
McKinsey’s analysis of the current situation and Industry 4.0 technologies tells us that while there is a general quickened pace of digital transformation, some technologies are more likely to be adopted in the short term than others. For manufacturing, the most urgent issue is to adapt to the new norms of working, protecting the health of employees, enforcing social distancing measures to prevent transmission within the workplace in order to avoid having to reduce the workforce and maintain high levels of productivity. Solutions that are easy to implement for this problem can be using wearable technology to track social distance compliance and risky physical contacts, AI-based risk analysis applications to foresee transmission scenarios, technologies that allow remote collaboration for employees who are non-critical. Solutions that require existing technological infrastructure are less likely to be adopted in this period, however process automation and automation of plant and warehouse logistics are also ways many companies will try to minimize the effects of reduced workforce. However, these applications will increasingly gain popularity as more and more companies reduce their dependence on the human workforce. Meanwhile, the adoption rate of solutions such as blockchain, nanotechnology and end-to-end advanced automation systems that require large investments, lack the urgency of other solutions and have long-term payback periods will be reduced.
The future of Industry 4.0 seems bright, especially as organizations realize the need for digitized processes for business resilience in times of crisis. Industry players already utilizing digital solutions are more likely to pull through, having been able to continue their operations uninhibited by the new conditions without sacrificing productivity. In the near future, companies will focus their efforts and investment on technologies that are the most urgent and easy to implement for business continuity. However in the long term and without the constraints currently imposed on cash preservation, organizations will begin investing in digital solutions that will allow them to fundamentally transform their businesses for improved productivity along the value chain.
Boni Global’s Safe Steps allows businesses to provide comprehensive protection for their employees by automating social distancing and contact tracing in the workplace. Contact us to find out how you can implement this solution.