When Covid-19 hit us in 2020, the manufacturing industry faces a series of challenges, such as supply chain disruption, labor shortage, high demand fluctuation, and travel restriction. Companies adopt digital transformation technologies to be agile and fight against rapid changes, which also helps to accelerate Industry 4.0 and bring long-term growth to the companies.
Beyond the four walls: remote working and monitoring
Companies used to monitor the production processes on-site. However, due to travel restrictions and distancing requirements, they move towards remote monitoring. Using sensors or PLC(programmable logic controller), factories can collect manufacturing data automatically. This helps managers and industrial engineering teams to improve production efficiency even when they are not on the shop floor.
However, attaching sensors to operators and every single component for labor-intensive assembly lines is simply unfeasible. To solve this problem, PowerArena tracks operators’ performances and efficiency by cameras powered by AI deep learning and computer vision technologies. Delivering real-time production reports 24/7, PowerArena spots line bottlenecks and helps factory managers to make line improvement decisions anytime and anywhere.
Respond to uncertainty: AI-driven decision making and production optimization
In a survey conducted by Gartner in 2020, 21% of the respondents stated that their AI initiatives were in production. Also, most companies increased or did not change their AI investments since the onset of Covid. The survey by Google Cloud and The Harris Poll reveals that the manufacturing industry accelerates AI adoption. 64% of manufacturers adopt AI to assist day-to-day operations. AI application in the manufacturing industry is moving from Pilot Purgatory into the golden age.
AI is applied in various fields in the manufacturing industry, including demand forecasting, quality inspection, supply chain management, and so on. Take demand forecasting as an example. Using AI machine learning can help to make decisions more efficiently than the traditional way. Analyzing not only internal sales and supply data but also external factors such as economic index and upstream/downstream changes, AI can better predict the demand and help production and logistics planning.
PowerArena also applies AI to help on production decision making by tracking operator’s motions and alerting SOP mistakes immediately. Also, new operators can pick up skills through past video records. Not only does our technology avoid human error, but it also generates real-time production reports. Speeding up process improvement, ProwerArena helps the production line to be agile and respond quickly to changes in the pandemic.
Obstacles and challenges of adopting new technologies
When adopting new technologies in the pandemic, companies may encounter problems such as financial liquidity, information security, lack of talent, etc. Some companies consider moving data to the cloud for remote working is risky in terms of information security. SaaS(Software as a Service) stands out when it comes to financial liquidity because companies can pay periodically rather than all at once. As for technical talent, it is difficult to cultivate an experienced AI team in a short time.
During covid-19 disruption, companies undergo digital transformation to survive. According to a survey by Mc. Kinsey, companies successfully scaling industry 4.0 technologies find themselves better positioned during the pandemic, which may be attributed to high adaptability to digital tools and flexibility. The pandemic also makes companies that are still testing digital tools examine their IT infrastructures more quickly. As for companies that have not engaged in digital transformation, they find themselves with limited resilience. This global crisis is the alert to speed up digital transformation and strong force to drive industry 4.0.