Many in the manufacturing sector are dealing with uncertain futures in the wake of COVID-19. The pandemic has done a number on a wide variety of industries. The manufacturing industry has been hit especially hard by supply chain disruptions and unexpected shifts in demand.
If the uncertainty you’re facing is based on if your facility will reopen, you have bigger fish to fry right now. However, if your uncertainty is based on when your facility will reopen, now is the perfect time to consider automating your production.
Why Should You Automate Now?
To put it simply, making important adaptations to your facility now will help it survive the next disruption—and the next disruption is all but inevitable.
Automation is an easy thing for manufacturers to put off. It requires shutting down production, or parts of production, to implement. Most manufacturers know that it’s a good investment and an opportunity to reduce costs, but choosing to shut down when it isn’t “necessary” is a big decision. Right now, however, day-to-day operations are at a standstill for a lot of facilities. In that regard, there’s never been a better time to make necessary changes for the future.
Many manufacturers also keep thinking of automation as it was years ago—inflexible, and difficult to adapt. Now, automation powered by software offers more dynamic, flexible production lines, wherein you can adapt to changes with the push of a button.
Under “normal” circumstances, automation has a lot of benefits—greater efficiency, lower costs, increased output, increased quality, and less reliance on physical, manual labor. Add a global pandemic, and these benefits are all but doubled. The more self-sufficient you can make your manufacturing processes, the less they’ll be affected when disasters like this one catch you off guard.
How Will This Affect Your Supply Chain?
Right now, we’re dealing with a global outbreak that’s affecting every nation. And because this is a virus, cases spike at different times and with differing severity—that makes a recovery for supply chains completely unpredictable.
Enter automation. Scalable, intelligent automation solutions can allow more localized production. OEMs have discussed this topic even before COVID-19, and it’s become the center of more and more discussions as the pandemic developed. Industry experts are beginning to think that the concept of decentralized, localized production may become clearer and clearer as we move forward. In large part thanks to COVID-19, we’re starting to consider whether shipping products around the globe might save money in the short-term, but may not always pay off in the long-term.
Ill-prepared suppliers have always been a concern. When your supply chain is complex, issues caused by suppliers who aren’t prepared for the unexpected can throw off your production cycle. With today’s automation technologies, that can be more in your control. Implementing these into your process can reduce your dependence on suppliers, giving you a stronger defense system when it comes to unexpected crises.
The more manufacturers prepare by implementing flexible, smart automation, the more likely they’ll be able to stay afloat during a crisis.