Rethink 2021: Enabling Evolution of the Frontline with AR

“Augmented Reality is definitely cool, it’s relatively easy to use, and it can have a big impact on productivity and quality,” argued Jim Heppelmann, Chief Executive Officer of PTC in an exclusive Executive Dialogue session during the Manufacturing Leadership Council’s 2021 Rethink Summit this week.

Speaking with MLC Co-Founder David R. Brousell, Heppelmann noted that most people have tended to think of digital benefits as always going to knowledge workers, or as part of connected machines and automation. The people who have not really benefited from digital transformation so far, are the frontline workers who stand and work next to those machines.

What Augmented Reality (AR) can do, he added, is to bring digital information directly into that work environment so that front-line workers can easily access and visually perceive information as they are actually doing their job.

It’s a technology that allows “bits and bytes to become sounds and sights”, explained Heppelmann.

Lots of companies have already seen the benefits of AR during the pandemic, he added, citing the example of auto company workers around the world who were able to be rapidly and remotely trained to make ventilators – a vital product which they had never made before.

Those kinds of primary use cases, involving work instructions, or training and mentoring, or remote support, are where many companies are already getting value. And Heppelmann believes there’s still lots of room for improvement. Despite all the digital investments manufacturers have made so far, he estimates that around 50% of front-line work is still not automated.

What’s more, he says that for every knowledge worker in a manufacturing organization there are around three front line workers on the plant floor or in customer facing and service roles. That’s where much of the skills gap exists in the industry today. And as experienced people continue to retire, they will continue take a lot of their domain knowledge with them, so the skills gap is likely to get even worse.

That’s why trying to digitize the knowledge of those retiring workers is also often a primary use case of AR. As companies use it, they are accumulating a large set of digital expertise that can help new workers learn their trade. And by harnessing AI and analytics with AR systems, companies can also ensure every step in a production or other process has been taken correctly and so verify the quality of the work. Over time, that helps all front-line employees to become more productive and more efficient.

“That’s why I call it a revolution,” he concluded. “We are bringing the power of the digital cloud to the front-line workforce for the first time. And that’s a big, powerful idea.”


Rethink 2021: Advanced manufacturing role models from the WEF Lighthouse Network

Since its founding in 2018, the World Economic Forum’s Lighthouse Factory Network has served as a collection of role models for what is possible in advanced manufacturing. With 69 Lighthouse locations designated worldwide, the factories that have earned this distinction are at the forefront of digital transformation and have achieved significant financial and operational improvement as the result of their efforts.

During his session at Rethink: The Manufacturing Leadership Council Summit, Francisco Betti, Head of Advanced Manufacturing and Production at the World Economic Forum, said that when developing its Lighthouse Network, the WEF saw that there was momentum around digital transformation in manufacturing, but that companies were struggling to invest in shop floor use cases that could generate value. Using independent third-party evaluators, the WEF developed a process to identify companies that had overcome that challenge and achieved significant financial and operational improvement as a result of their efforts.

When asked about the common thread for members of the Lighthouse network, Betti pointed to four main elements:

  • The realization that digital transformation is not just to help improve operations, but also to enable new business models.
  • Some things that became important during the pandemic will be here to stay – agility and a focus on the customer; a balance between automation and employee engagement; a new concept of resilience.
  • Sustainability does not come at the expense of efficiency, and there are new ways to reuse, recycle and re-manufacture – and these will become essential for companies to stay in business.
  • C-level management and corporate boards have made digital transformation a significant priority, and they invest in technology and the workforce accordingly.

In the future Betti says the WEF will pay special attention to companies that take their digital transformation beyond the shop floor and move it out to other functions, such as procurement, customer service, and for meeting substantial benchmarks for sustainability.

More information about the Global Lighthouse Network is available from the WEF’s white paper, Global Lighthouse Network: Insights from the Forefront of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.


Rethink 2021: Inspired by Nature – Redefining the Human-Machine Relationship with AI & Robotics

“The next 60 years will usher in an era where robots will become useful team-mates for people, helping them in both physical and cognitive tasks,” predicted the MIT’s Dr. Daniela Rus during her keynote session on the final day of the MLC’s 2021 Rethink Summit this week. “They will have a wide range of capabilities and will come in a variety of forms and materials, inspired by nature, by our built environment, and by our imagination.”

Rus, who is Andrew and Erna Viterbi Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and Director of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at MIT, continued: “Today we are surrounded by a world of digital opportunities. These possibilities only get larger when we start to imagine what we can do with advances in AI & robotics.”

Those advances will not only fundamentally transform the human/machine relationship, she believes, but will also lead to completely new kinds of production strategies and manufacturing business models.

“We assume that robots and AI will lead to fewer manufacturing jobs,” noted Rus, “but what if they really bring better jobs that allow workers to control production lines more finely and configure them rapidly for customized production? This could meet the rising demand for customization and personalization in almost everything we buy, and at an affordable price point. It would be a world where product templates get designed by specialists, customized by people at home, and fabricated locally. This means a whole new approach to production and jobs.”

Looking back, Rus identified three waves of robotics development so far: a first wave of large, constrained, and potentially dangerous industrial robots; a second wave of more flexible and autonomous robotics systems; and the current wave of automation where we are “building machines that can perform increasingly more complex physical and cognitive tasks in human-centred environments.”

This progress is being enabled by advancements in three interconnected fields, she noted, robotics, AI, and machine learning. She also acknowledged that there are tasks that people do better, and tasks where machines are better at the job. “The sweet spot today”, she said, “is to consider teams of humans and machines working together – to view machines as “Super-tools”, or as autonomous interns running errands or pouring over data for humans to act on.“

But while the last 60 years has been marked by robots mostly inspired by the human form, the next stage, Rus believes, will be more adaptive soft robots inspired by the animal kingdom and form diversity, by our built environment, and with far broader application potential. The future of AI-enabled robotics, she says, “will be inspired by nature – with machines becoming soft like materials, and materials becoming more intelligent like machines.”

To support her point, Rus showcased multiple examples of innovative lab prototypes based on computational design and leading-edge fabrication ideas already under development, from under-water robotic fish for sub-aqua applications, to origami-inspired grippers, to micro-bots that can choose different wraps depending on the tasks they need to perform, to robots that can interpret and mirror human muscle movements, to robots that harness deep learning systems to interact with human language and even respond to some instructions via human brainwaves.

“These are a good starting point for reimagining robots for production,” she added. “Imagine a world where if you can think it, you can make it. A world where anybody can create custom tools, custom robots, and custom products – on demand.”

So, as companies continue to embrace the use of autonomy and automation in manufacturing, Rus believes they need to be prepared for a constantly evolving manufacturing landscape in the years ahead that incorporates AI, robotics, and machine learning tools, and they should strive to better understand how these tools can impact all the processes in the factory, how to take advantage of those processes, and how to use computation and data in order to improve operations.

This, she stressed, requires developing both the right infrastructure and a workforce that is re-skilled to understand how to use the new tools, “because human/machine collaboration requires both better machines and humans who know how to leverage those machines.”

And companies need to start that process now. “It is not enough just to train the workforce of tomorrow,” Rus concluded. “We need to get serious about reskilling the workforce of today and cultivate a culture of agility and lifelong learning in every organization.”


Rethink 2021: A Better World for Tomorrow

“Manufacturers do not accept that anything is impossible.”

In his opening speech for Rethink: The Manufacturing Leadership Summit, National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons reflected on the world’s emergence from the COVID-19 pandemic and how digital technologies played a role in keeping factories open, keeping goods moving, and especially in keeping workers safe.

Timmons cited MLC research that “the march to Manufacturing 4.0 has become a sprint” as 40% of companies reported that the pandemic accelerated their digitization plans. Indeed, manufacturers who had robust digital operations in place were shown to be in a better position to respond to the pandemic’s disruption, and others quickly got on board with bringing in collaborative and remote operational technologies to keep production lines running.

In examining specific transformational examples, Timmons pointed to 2021 Manufacturers of the Year Dow and Hologic. Dow’s digital transformation throughout its operations eliminated 2 million hours of work in potentially hazardous environments and allowed for significant year-over-year gains in value, even during the pandemic. Meanwhile, Hologic introduced a talent management system that prepares its employees to work in factories of the future and halved the time necessary to bring new employees through the onboarding process.

In closing, Timmons hearkened to manufacturers’ unflappable determination and continuous quest for improvement despite any challenges along the way.

“We can build the world we want to see, and today, manufacturers are determined to see us through our crisis and build a better world for tomorrow.”


Rethink 2021: Shell utilizes AI to power the future


When it comes to making a digital transition and realizing ambitious business outcomes, Shell believes that technology might be the least important element.

During his session at Rethink: The Manufacturing Leadership Council Summit, Peter Westerink, General Manager of Digitalization Downstream Manufacturing at Shell, said that the energy company believes transformation is driven 60% by data, 30% by people, and 10% by technology.

Shell has significantly increased its investment in digital adoption, including growth to 1.3 trillion rows of sensor data in its data link, significant growth in its data-focused workforce, a tenfold increase in the use of virtual rooms powered by AR, and the use of AI to monitor more than 6,000 pieces of equipment.

Digitalization and AI are driving efficiencies in Shell’s business by maximizing availability for equipment (“find small and fix small”) and optimizing production in real time while decreasing CO2 emissions. Shell integrates data into a digital twin to enhance collaboration, automation, and remote operations that has gone live in one production facility with plans underway for five others.

Shell is also using these efforts to grow its clean energy capabilities. This includes AI for optimizing electric vehicle charging stations to save money for customers and monitor the power grid. Additionally, the company is using data-driven modeling and physics-based models for hydrogen production, storage, and transport, and using AI to assist in selecting wind turbine locations and optimize windfarm design and construction.

Westerink says Shell is thinking bigger to make energy smarter and sees a brighter future ahead. “We’re excited by the capabilities and communities we’re building, excited by the impact our projects are already having, and excited by the potential we haven’t yet realized.”

Three Steps Toward Manufacturing Resiliency

Three Steps Toward Manufacturing Resiliency

The manufacturing business environment can be unpredictable. Supply chain disruptions occur, demand for products fluctuates, and game-changing innovations quickly appear on the horizon. To stay in business and remain competitive, manufacturers must anticipate and respond to both foreseen and unforeseen changes.
What’s the key to this responsiveness? Manufacturing resiliency. And the driver behind this resiliency is data-driven production execution supported by digital technologies.
Hard Lessons
Hard lessons have been learned in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Manufacturing has been particularly hard hit. Companies that were able to react quickly, retool their factories, redirect their supply chains, and take advantage of digital technologies quickly switched gears to meet crucial needs and create new opportunities

For example, clothing designers and manufacturers such as H&M, Brooks Brothers, and Hanesbrands retooled their factories to produce face masks, medical gowns, and protective aprons for hospitals. Spirits manufacturers Bacardi and Brown-Forman shifted their distillery operations to manufacture hand sanitizers for first responders. And production lines at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford, and GM are now turning out ventilator parts, respirators, and other much-needed medical equipment.[i] In addition to meeting urgent worldwide needs, these companies have created a culture of resiliency in their operations that will be valuable to them and the communities they support in both the short and long term.
Three Steps to Resilient Manufacturing 
By taking the following three steps, you can transform your manufacturing environment to become more resilient and improve operations. You can more effectively meet the needs of your customers under any circumstances while creating new opportunities for your business.
1/ Increase flexible automation to create resilient operations.
The manufacturing industry has come full circle, from the days of hyper-customized craft production before the first Industrial Age, through mass production in the early 1900s, to manufacturing as it is today. With the trend toward personalization that we’re now seeing in the marketplace, the manufacturing industry is moving back to hyper-customization, or a lot size of one.
However, in this Industry 4.0 iteration, hyper-personalization is being done at scale. Flexible automation is at the forefront of this evolving story. Robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) are the key technologies that make flexible automation at scale possible, enabled by 5G, Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) and Open Platform Communications (OPC).

On the road to full automation, we can also expect to see more scenarios where humans work collaboratively with robots. This collaboration could take many forms. For example, workers could adapt their tasks to preconfigured robotic operations. However, with rapid advancements in robotics and AI, future production lines could also be staffed with robots that have the intelligence and situational awareness to easily work alongside humans, adjusting their behavior according to each worker’s style and speed.
The technologies that will drive this digital transformation include robotics and mixed reality, with 5G, IoT and AI serving as the digital backbone and application enablers.
2/ Introduce remote operations to ensure business continuity in adverse situations. 
Prior to the pandemic, there was a lot of industry buzz and some solid proof points for deploying augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) in manufacturing, particularly within the maintenance function. However, not everyone believed this technology would be quickly and widely adopted.
Now, as companies have been forced into embracing remote working, we’re seeing a renewed enthusiasm among executives for these technologies. There’s a heightened urgency to incorporate remote operations as an integral means of supporting manufacturing operations, whether for product quality inspection, equipment maintenance tasks, or even collaborative tasks involving product design and production planning.
Technologies that can be seamlessly integrated into work environments will quickly evolve to include key enablers such as digital twins, 3D visualization, and private 5G.
3/ Adopt a digital infrastructure that connects all parts of the supply chain. 
One of the serious manufacturing-related impacts of the pandemic and subsequent shutdowns was the significant disruption to the supply chain. Many enterprises were scrambling to source needed materials and components, and distributors were scrambling to deliver them. This situation brought home how essential digital technologies are for managing the complexity and variability of today’s sophisticated and vulnerable manufacturing supply chains.
Industrial data lakes play a key role in transforming traditional production software stacks into digital production platforms. In the manufacturing environment, data lakes enable real-time connectivity to various information layers involved in manufacturing operations, from programmable logic controllers (PLCs), to manufacturing execution systems (MES), to enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. This end-to-end connectivity will enable a seamless information flow across the entire supply chain. In addition, it will help scale any application deployed in one plant, to any other plant anywhere in the world, improving overall return on investment (ROI).
Together, with several other emerging technologies, industrial data lakes will eventually help shape the vision of distributed manufacturing and personalized manufacturing. Additionally, industrial data lakes will play a critical role in scaling digitized accumulated know-how as we transition toward the vision of the digital worker.
Lessons Learned 
Though the manufacturing industry doesn’t always operate in crisis mode, there are valuable lessons about resiliency to be learned from the pandemic. Any manufacturer can take these lessons to heart and transform their factory into an agile, responsive environment resilient enough to weather whatever changes may come.


GM: Data’s Infinite Potential

GM: Data’s Infinite Potential

Posted by  | Oct 29, 2020 | 

With a vast global network of production facilities ranging anywhere from 25 to over 100 years old, and a production staff of over 140,000 people around the world, General Motors generates massive amounts of data every day.
As the cars it produces become ever more intelligent, and as new production technologies like dedicated additive manufacturing systems in all its factories, new developments in collaborative robotics on the shop floor, and specialized new metal forming innovations underway, those data volumes are growing fast.
So how does GM view the potential of all this data for the kind of products it makes and how it will make them in the years ahead?
“It’s infinite,” predicted GM’s Executive Vice President of Global Manufacturing, Gerald Johnson, in conversation with MLC Co-founder David R. Brousell during the opening keynote session of the 2020 Virtual MLC Rethink Summit this week.
As the recent winner of the MLC’s 2020 Manufacturing Leader of the Year Award, Johnson was talking about GM’s Manufacturing Vision and its own journey to Manufacturing 4.0.

Gerald Johnson, GM’s EVP of Global Manufacturing and 2020 MLC Manufacturing Leader of the Year

“There’s no real destination to our smart manufacturing journey,” continued Johnson, “because the technology keeps growing. It’s really about grabbing and integrating what allows us to move forward from where we are today, and then looking out as we start strategizing and planning our future to make sure we are always able to incorporate what’s available to us.”
Understanding and using data more effectively is a key part of that journey. “I think the technology will help people make better decisions and help make decisions faster,” he added. “We will be able to do things better in a digital world, shrinking the time it takes to go from idea to execution, and shrinking the time it takes to move from equipment on the floor to full operation.
“It’s about understanding how much we can put into the digital world with enough accuracy that it allows us to predict better, allows us to prevent better, and allows us to move from an idea to a tangible, physical asset in a highly efficient execution faster. That’s where I think the greatest opportunity is.”
To help drive this digital ambition, GM has a rapidly expanding data analytics organization where analysts spend significant amounts of time on GM’s plant floors asking front line management and operators exactly what problems they are trying to solve. “Then they are coming back to us and saying, ‘I think we can help you with this by aggregating these sets of data’. So, it’s a marriage of the experts who understand data techniques, and the plant guys who understand the problem. Then they are collaborating together in workshops to find new ways that data can help to solve things,” he said.
But for Johnson, that’s only the beginning of harnessing the potential of all the data that GM is now collecting. “The reason I say it is infinite is because I don’t know the question that I will need to ask a year from now, or five years from now. But if I have an infinite data set, when I get to the right question, I don’t have to create all the connectivity and create all the data gathering we need. All I have to do is to find the right tools to extract that data in very intelligent ways.
“So, it’s infinite”, he concluded. “There’s millions of bits of data that we are now collecting every day that I don’t even know I need yet. But I’m grateful to IT team for finding efficient ways for us to keep it, so when I figure out the question I want to ask, it’s there so we can start manipulating it to answer questions that we aren’t smart enough to know we need to answer yet. To me, that’s exciting.”
“It’s like looking up into the universe and trying to count the stars,” he explained. “You can’t. But it’s amazing that it’s out there.

Virtual Rethink: An Embrace of All Things Digital

Virtual Rethink: An Embrace of All Things Digital

Posted by  | Oct 27, 2020 | 

Rethink: The Manufacturing Leadership Council Summit kicked off on October 27, for the first time as a virtual event since its inception. MLC Co-Founder, Vice President and Executive Director David Brousell kicked off the event with remarks focused on the immense disruption that manufacturing has faced during a challenging year – and the ways that digital technology has helped organizations rise to the occasion.
Brousell cited MLC’s own research that demonstrated how the ability to adapt to rapid change was clearly linked to an organization’s digital maturity. In May, 67% of respondents to an MLC poll said digital technologies were important to their ability to respond to the crisis, whether it was shifting production lines, enabling remote capabilities, or mitigating supply chain disruptions.
Also noted were the challenges to developing a digital-first organization, including the mind-numbing volume of data that manufacturers can now acquire – everything from equipment utilization to product lifecycle to customer satisfaction. While acquiring that data is the first step, it is essential to have the ability to organize that data, rely on its accuracy, and make decisions based on that information. As an industry, many manufacturers still struggle to achieve this level of digital mastery.
Additionally, executive leadership is now tasked not just with needing traditional business skills but also digital acumen – an area where many find themselves still lagging.
“Perceptions change as a greater sense of urgency comes on,” Brousell said. “It seems the digital revolution is no longer in the future, but it is now.”

2020 Manufacturing Leadership Award winners recognized at virtual gala

2020 Manufacturing Leadership Award: Winners Recognized at Virtual Gala

Posted by  | Oct 8, 2020 | 

Winners of the 2020 Manufacturing Leadership Awards were honored at the 16th annual ML Awards Gala, hosted by the National Association of Manufacturers’ Manufacturing Leadership Council. The event took place online.
Gerald Johnson, Executive Vice President, Global Manufacturing at GM, was selected as the Manufacturing Leader of the Year for his leadership in GM’s pivot to ventilator production in a partnership with Ventec Life Systems, code named Project V.
Corteva Agriscience was selected as Large Enterprise Manufacturer of the Year for its strong nominations in multiple project categories, using data to streamline operations, boost supply chain resilience, and meet demand.
Humtown Product was named Small/Medium Enterprise Manufacturer of the Year. A longtime leader in the metalcasting industry, the company utilized 3D printing to revolutionize production, boosting its capabilities and allowing it to serve new markets and customers.
“The need for digital transformation in manufacturing is more urgent than ever, and these companies and leaders are examples of some of the best,” said MLC Co-Founder, Vice President, and Executive Director David R. Brousell. “I commend this year’s winners for their noteworthy accomplishments and for continuing to expand what is possible.”
Also honored at the ML Awards Gala was Jeff Moad, creator of the Manufacturing Leadership Awards and its director until his retirement in 2019. Since its inception in 2005, the awards program has recognized thousands of projects from global manufacturers, and Jeff was instrumental in creating its mission and leading its development.
Nine recipients of ML High Achiever Awards were also announced. The High Achiever Awards are presented to the project that receives the highest score from the judges in that category.
High Achiever Award Winners:

  • Lockheed Martin in the Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Analytics Leadership category for F-35 Augmented Reality Shop Floor Mobility
  • Merck & Co., Inc., in the Collaborative Innovation Leadership category for Digital Fingerprinting
  • Humtown Products in the Engineering and Production Technology Leadership category for Commercialization of 3D Printing in the Metal Casting Industry
  • IBM in the Enterprise Integration Technology Leadership category for Migrating Supply Chain Quality Workload to Cloud
  • Cooley Group in the Industrial Internet of Things Leadership category for Cooley Group Transforms Legacy Machinery into Smart Tech
  • Hologic Inc. in the Operational Excellence category for Building a Culture of Operational Excellence
  • Starkey Hearing Technologies in the Supply Chain Leadership category for Starkey Supply Chain Management Transformation
  • The Boeing Company in the Sustainability Leadership category for Diverting Waste to Landfill While Upcycling Excess Airplane Carbon Fiber
  • Nexteer Automotive in the Talent Management category for Nexteer for m.e. Global Talent Management and Training Program


5 Ways the Cloud is Transforming Manufacturing

The manufacturing sector faces a slew of challenges due to the pandemic. A recent survey by the U.S. National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) found that nearly four out of five manufacturing companies expect a financial hit from COVID-19. More than half (53.1%) anticipate a change in operations primarily due to the injection of new technologies and reimagined business processes.
Writing for Forbes magazine, Anna-Katrina Shedletsky, CEO of Instrumental, said: “Between solutions that leverage the power of the cloud for visibility and automation that optimizes work, necessity will drive invention: manufacturers will do five years of innovation in the next 18 months.”
Indeed, the cloud will be a staple for every manufacturer’s technology stack in these challenging times. Even before the pandemic, the cloud was poised to bring undeniable benefits for manufacturers. It includes a 22% rise in profitability and a 23% decrease in operational costs, on average. And spurred by the pandemic, manufacturers are likely to ramp up their investments in the cloud. In IDC’s wave 3 of its COVID-19 Impact on IT Spending Survey, analysts predicted, “a significant increase in demand for cloud software”.
Five Drivers of Change
There are five clear drivers for this trend. Across industries, the demand for cloud infrastructure has seen a sharp uptick, growing a record 34% YoY in Q1 of 2020. This surge is because the cloud dramatically shrinks their dependence on physical, on-premise infrastructure, and consequently, physical proximity. This facet has immediate benefits for companies that are following social distancing measures. In the long-term, the cloud could unlock better connectivity and more seamless supply chains, overcoming supply chain disruptions arising from COVID-19 as expected by 35.5% of companies in the IDC survey.
These benefits span short, near, and long-term impact areas for manufacturers:

  1. In the short-term, the cloud enables business continuity. 

Several of the critical activities on the manufacturing value chain, from product design to marketing and customer service, rely on in-person contact. The cloud eliminates this dependence by providing an “anytime, anywhere” platform for communication. This has immense implications for new product development (NPD) as companies no longer need to press pause on innovation. Still, they can stick to their planned go-to-market (GTM) strategies by leveraging the cloud. Similarly, on the operational side, the cloud can help maintain business continuity across people processes, production, and even marketing/sales via online platforms.

  1. The cloud simplifies compliance with EHS regulations

Employee health and safety (EHS) regulations are a key focus area for manufacturers even in the best of times. With the onset of the pandemic, this demands even more attention for manufacturing companies. Business continuity and growth cannot compromise on employee health in any way. The cloud allows manufacturers to operate near-lights-out production, assembly, and shipping, thanks to cloud-based automation. Employees can work from the safety of their homes, cementing their trust in the employer and strengthening long-term relationships.

  1. In the near-term, the cloud extends the manufacturing ecosystem

The pandemic has compelled business leaders to rethink their existing procurement and distribution networks, lying stress on localized availability and supply chains. When it comes to global pathways, the cloud helps to overcome curbs on international travel and stay connected. It is possible to monitor and manage this entire landscape on a cloud-based platform from the safety of one’s home. The convergence of information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) via cloud-solutions makes it easier to orchestrate the manufacturing ecosystem remotely.

  1. In the long-term, the cloud will accelerate process modernization

Business leaders were discussing the importance of the fourth industrial revolution even before the pandemic. Now, it is no longer a mere possibility. COVID-19 has pushed manufacturers to reduce dependence on hands-on processes, physical infrastructure, and physical workspaces. A modernized manufacturing enterprise, where cloud-based artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI and ML) scans EHS data to spot non-compliance; where a cloud-based contact center replaces hundreds of employees working within a confined campus; and where cloud-based project management platforms ensure on-time delivery, will soon be the new normal.

  1. Cost optimization is a recurring benefit of migrating to the cloud

It’s no secret that traditional, on-premise infrastructure is prone to severe inefficiencies. Companies cannot dynamically allocate resources, leading to resource waste and challenges in scaling up at peak demand periods. The cloud could help manufacturers improve their bottom line by maximizing technology investments. It could also drive topline revenues by enabling innovation and business growth when the competition stutters.
Beyond the Pandemic
Enterprise migration to the cloud shouldn’t be reactive. After all, it has far-reaching benefits extending well into a manufacturer’s long-term roadmap. It will help business leaders get a step ahead of the competition, leapfrogging into the industry 4.0 era, and ready to take on fresh opportunities post-COVID-19. This requires well-articulated cloud adoption strategies encompassing every sphere of business, starting today.

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