5 ways to take your organization from Normal to New Normal in Manufacturing

At this time last year, topics that were trending for the manufacturing sector were about data utilization, predictive maintenance, and the central role that data could play in manufacturing. Now, we may have to put a comma there, due to COVID-19 and focus on pushing for digital initiatives like smart supply chains, ERP systems, IoT, AI, digital twin, AR, and VR.

Therefore, now it is important for you to focus on:

 take your organization from Normal to New Normal in Manufacturing

As I write, the COVID-19 domino effect continues. 213 countries round the world have already seen this humanitarian crisis intensify and we clearly need a Plan B.

This pandemic has forced us to rethink the way we work, communicate, socialize, and even consume products and services. The ‘new normal’ now is new technologies finding their way into industrial operations. This new normal will also see a change in the business ecosystem that will help shift from the current B2B (business-to-business model) to B2B2C (business-to-business-to-consumer). This means greater profit, faster time to market, tighter brand and price control, and the most important bigger pool of customer data.

Let us now look the ways in which you can navigate the new normal.

Navigating the new normal

As far as the manufacturing industry was concerned, the pandemic meant that some companies were forced to apply brakes due to supply chain disruptions, while others went on overdrive.

Not all disruptions have to be this chaotic, this dramatic, or this depressing, we are talking about disruptions of the good kind – digital disruptions – transforming through emerging technology and business models.

Drastic times call for drastic measures. Here are five areas where you as a decision maker in the manufacturing industry can redefine your digital journey:

Data

COVID-19 seems to have created a deeper divide between manufactures who have just started to digitize and those who are ahead in their digital journey.

Louvre has virtual tours now, zoos live stream their animal areas, well even Disneyland has virtual rides now. Every business that we have ever known has taken a pause and come back by investing in their technology architecture. They have come out stronger with digital transformation. This crisis has made having reliable, real-time data access an absolute necessity. Data will soon play an even more strategic role across various facets of our businesses. This means significant increase in data connectivity investments. For the manufacturing these investments mean deploying Industrial IoT – data visualization, remote collaboration tools, AI based insights etc.

With rapidly changing technology and industry landscape, as a company starting out on IT projects, you may want to first assess your current state – you may have to first define your process, then data, and specify your data flow across your IT architecture. Then, implement projects that go hand in hand with your new strategy. With tremendous advancement in IoT and AI, predictability and flexibility in manufacturing operations, these gaps can be bridged.

Organizational Behaviour

The role of leaders has come into focus during this pandemic. In order to transition from the initial crisis response stage to the ‘new normal’ leaders need to strike a balance between two elements – People and Technology.

As an organization embarks on its digital journey it needs to have a clear roadmap, where decision makers ensure that optimal communication takes place within the organization’s business ecosystem.

As a manufacturer your focus must be on, managing risks for business continuity and building workforce confidence through effective communication and flexible adaptation of employee concerns.

Business Processes

All leading firms will have to either start or accelerate automating their processes. Yes, it does sound like you are forcibly shoehorning digital initiatives into your well- meaning and traditional supply chains. But, smart is the way to go.

Companies will have to invest in making their supply chains more transparent and resilient by connecting with global suppliers. Suppliers will have to go local for customers.  Supply chains will also see the use of digital tools for increased accuracy and reduced risk.

A successful business model depends on connecting data and processes.  You can leverage data to know where to invest and potentially save costs that way. Focus on products and processes that have a high value, check where automation can be deployed quickly. Anything that does not fit this bill can go into that drawer labelled- ‘When stability is achieved’. Automation in turn thus, will create new jobs for digital literates- a stronger and exceptional workforce.

People

In the pre-pandemic phase, the manufacturing industry was synonymous with physical presence- workforce tending to machines, maintaining and repairing them. These industries also saw many vendors teeming in at various junctures to offer various services.  However, now, it looks like with social distancing in place, there could be as much as 50% slash in on-site personnel. That is a cross most companies need to bear.

The way out of this, is to adopt to remote management and diagnostic tools. That means those who were previously on-site will now go online. Through AI based insights and collaboration tools, the on- site workforce can now work more efficiently and increase their productivity,

So going Agile is the way forward.

Stakeholder Experience

The manufacturing industry will have to establish a seamless digitally enabled stakeholder experience around all their stakeholders. The same goes for their relationship with their customers.

In today’s world we are continuously adopting technology across all business processes and functions, so it becomes even more necessary that stakeholder management strategy be your top most priority.

Digital retail will flourish with dealers being connected with consumers online, making contactless delivery of everything right from food to vehicles seem like a necessity.

You will have to improve upon the digital experiences you leave both your customers and stakeholders with. And, in all this –data, data, data. That is what will help you succeed. Gather feedbacks and insights, test them and build stronger relationships with them.

Wrapping up our thoughts, the pandemic did send shockwaves around the manufacturing industry, and work hit the pause button, but you did see the light at the end of tunnel- digital transformation. Keep chugging towards that light by increasing your resilience, strengthening your customer relations and being better equipped for the future.

 

P.S: We did host a webinar on this topic a few days back, if you weren’t a part of that, you could always get the slide deck here and learn how your company could navigate the new normal.

Also for any other queries, write to us.

About Nalini Vijayraghavan

Lead Marcom Executive

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Machine learning/Azure serverless
Nalini, a Lead Marcom Executive at Nitor for a little over 3 years. A believer in Murphy’s law, an ardent Sherlock Holmes fan, and a math atheist, Nalini writes for a living (literally that is why her salary is deposited in her account). Movies and books are her happy place. Her knowledge of all things man-made or natural is limited to what the Internet and books can tell her (so a word of caution as you read what she writes – take it with a bucket of salt).