Digitalization in manufacturing: marathon or sprint?

While the term Industry 4.0 was first coined in 2011, few companies have effectively implemented such technologies.

However, turbulent circumstances such as the COVID-19 pandemic accelerate the need for digitalization in manufacturing. Therefore, should manufacturers sprint to invest in new automation tools? In this case, which ones should manufacturing companies choose to use?

A recent study by McKinsey reveals that businesses have vaulted five years forward in digital adoption in just eight weeks. The introduction of new technology in its early stages was fraught with a great deal of expense and danger. This meant that traditionally, most manufacturers have taken a marathon-like approach to digitalization—slow and steady.

However, recently, businesses are suddenly sprinting towards digital transformation in manufacturing. This is in an attempt to stay safe and efficient during the pandemic. Companies are increasingly investing in automation tools that deliver fast and impactful results. So, what are the technologies that have had the most impact so far?

Cloud services

As a result of the pandemic, the government implemented several different lockdown plans. These have brought to light the importance of establishing dependable conditions for working remotely.

Because of this, it is even more important to make investments in cloud-based solutions. The length of time that people will be required to work from their homes is an open question. However, there is no doubt that cloud computing will become more widely used.

Benefits of cloud managed services

Businesses that already have a cloud infrastructure in place, are the most prepared for the effects of the pandemic. This is especially the case when dealing with a multi-cloud system.  For those who don’t, cloud services can be a lifeline that allows them to serve customers and protect their assets.

Working remotely has expanded the number of potential entry points for cyber criminals. Therefore, this indicates that workers need to exercise greater caution when dealing with their data.

Cloud services can protect encrypted data, constantly monitor it, and create automated backups. Nevertheless, cloud services will also be crucial in the digital-led recovery after the pandemic. The sooner companies adhere to cloud services, the more prepared they are for an uncertain future.

Digital warehouse automation

Additionally, as a result of the epidemic, there is a pressing requirement to promptly react to unexpected surges in demand. In addition to this, businesses need to be ready for the likelihood that there could be disruptions in the supply chain.

To do that, manufacturers have had to undergo warehouse optimization to ensure they operate as efficiently as possible. Not only are warehouses growing in size to meet market demands, these smart warehouse technologies are also becoming safer.

Automated Guided Vehicles in warehouses

For example, the usage of Automated Guided Vehicles in warehouses (AGVs) has grown significantly. The market for automated guided vehicles (AGVs) was already expanding at a quick pace of 30 percent prior to the pandemic. It has now soared as a result of the pandemic.

AGVs can connect to 5G networks and are imperative for warehouse optimization operations. For instance, picking, transport and store products without human intervention. An industry that will particularly benefit from AGVs is food and beverage. Which is because of the crucial need for picking and grasping technology.

The use of automated order picking systems is also experiencing a surge in popularity. Up until a year ago, ninety percent of the picking that took place in warehouses was done by hand. Smart warehouses today require systems such as pick-to-light, voice-picking, or mobile collaborative robots.

For small and medium-sized businesses, a hybrid solution is the most practical. For example, pick-to-light, which requires the installation of LEDs and barcode scanners on racks and shelves, might be best.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution could have been compared to a marathon in its early stages. With manufacturers from all around the world joining at their own pace. However, winning the race against changing markets means that manufacturers should now take a leap forward and digitalise for good.

At EU Automation, we understand the pressure that falls on manufacturers and business owners. We can help them keep their production up and running by providing the automation parts they need in the shortest period. Helping you to avoid downtime.