The pandemic and its resulting disruption have highlighted the weaknesses in traditional manufacturing best practices. Clearly, what many organizations believed to be best practices were not actually the best when faced with events like COVID-19. Consequently, the industry best practices are evolving. Here are six ways to do it:
The COVID-19 pandemic brought about many changes in the manufacturing industry. The most significant one is that many companies are rethinking they way they manage inventory in view of material shortages and supply chain disruptions.
When closedowns and restrictions began restricting raw material supply and delivery, manufacturers quicky ran out of stock. Even though manufacturing best practices tell them that inventory is a type of waste, this shortage showed that safety stocks can help a business be resilient.
This does not necessarily mean that manufacturing companies should stock up massive amounts of assets and parts. However, having inventory reserves will help manufacturers alleviate the effects of supply chain interruptions.
Supplier Diversification Strategy as a Manufacturing Best Practice
The first closedowns in China revealed the pitfalls of having a single supplier. For example, the reason for the current semiconductor shortage is that 91% of production comes from a handful of factories in Taiwan and South Korea.
The manufacturing industry at large has learned that depending on one single supplier creates bottlenecks in times of crisis. Therefore, more manufacturers are turning towards a supplier diversification strategy to avoid similar disruptions in the future. Having suppliers in different regions will guarantee that problems at one facility will not disrupt the supply chain.
Industry 4.0 Technologies
Before the pandemic, most manufacturers believed that it was a good idea to adopt Industry 4.0 technologies and best practices. Although this still stands, there is a new sense of urgency around this technological transformation. Digitalization is not about outdoing competitors but guaranteeing the company’s resilience.
The reference point for the maturity of Industry 4.0 has moved. While 44% of manufacturers believed they implemented this technology successfully in 2019, only 26% gave the same reply in 2020. If manufacturers hope to increase flexibility and resilience, they will have to invest in IoT, automation, and data analysis.
Higher Levels of Cleanliness
Understandably, attention to cleaning best practices increased because of the virus. The first outbreaks and the guidance from health officials quickly revealed how certain industrial processes could spread contagion. Making processes safer and cleaner could help reduce or prevent health issues and minimize their impact in the future.
Concern for Cyber Security
During the pandemic, manufacturers implemented technology to help improve visibility and efficiency. As this trend continues, manufacturers must start to take cyber security seriously.
The more IoT-enabled devices businesses use, the more opportunities to attack there are for cyber criminals. The manufacturing sector’s lack of experience in cyber security makes it a very tempting target. This concern is not baseless, as 40% of manufacturing companies have been victims of cyberattacks over the past year.
Focus on Labor Issues
The supply chain disruptions and security issues are not the only challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Manufacturers have realized they need to improve labor management given the constant shortage of workers.
The road transport industry alone needs about a million workers to cover the current shortage. Manufacturing plants face similar challenges. As demand and businesses start to grow, they need to address the way they treat workers so they can attract and retain them.
How the Industry Adapted After the Pandemic
Even though the virus is not as big a threat, the effects of the pandemic are still being felt. In some areas, it is a positive thing. As businesses revise their manufacturing best practices, the industry will be safer, fairer, and more profitable and resilient.
These six best practices have changed the industry and helped manufacturers to recover from the losses sustained during the pandemic.
At 4i Platform, we have applied these changes and developed tools that will help you implement them easily as well. With our apps, you will be able to monitor your plant from any device at any given moment. Digital transformation is just one app away.