The world has now entered the third calendar year of the COVID-19 pandemic, a pandemic that has brought changes to industries around the world. From the beginning, these changes have come in the form of periodic shutdowns, increased remote work, and new health and safety protocols, but organizations are now seeking more long-term solutions.
This reactive approach has seen many industries through some of the most challenging periods they have faced, but manufacturers must now shift to a more proactive approach if they wish to remain competitive. Organizations must now accept that temporary measures aren’t enough and that they need to put long-term solutions in place.
For most manufacturers, this will mean the use of new tools and new partnerships to shift the way they operate. While many organizations are hesitant to make these kinds of changes during a period of uncertainty, that’s when they’re needed most. Manufacturers must take the necessary steps to adapt to living with COVID-19 today because their competitors’ efforts are already well underway.
The Challenges of Extended Operation During COVID-19
Manufacturers have had to come to terms with many challenges throughout the pandemic. Many of these challenges were outside of their control, with disruptions in supply chains and reduced demand in specific industries leading to reduced revenues.
However, there are many areas where manufacturers can change the way they operate. Organizations can focus on how they operate internally, seeking out and remedying inefficiency and missed opportunities.
With more industry 4.0 technologies becoming available, the two main areas manufacturers stand to improve the most are information availability and communication.
Improving Organizational Information Availability
The shift to remote work has been a major challenge for manufacturing industries in particular. While many industries already had some infrastructure in place for remote work, manufacturing has relied almost exclusively on all teams being on-site. While there are some roles within production teams that simply cannot be done remotely, a lack of information availability restricts those that could be.
Operators and shift managers are far from the only employees who rely on accurate and timely production data to carry out their work every day. Any manufacturer also requires logistics, sales, marketing, accounting, quality, maintenance, and more. Many of these roles are suitable for remote work if they have secure and reliable access to the data they need.
These teams need to know what’s happening on the factory floor as it happens. Is the current production run proceeding as planned? Have new work orders affected the schedule? Will the customer’s order be delivered on time? They can’t rely on shift reports and other after-the-fact sources. They need to know now.
Factory floors likely already have some form of enterprise resource planning (ERP) system in place that can provide such data. However, these systems rely on manual data entry, which is inefficient and slow. Not only that, but these systems are rarely capable of allowing for remote work arrangements. With limited security that relies on keeping networks local, off-site employees can’t access the data they need.
Secure cloud-based Real-time Operational Intelligence (RtOI) solutions solve both of these problems. RtOI solutions, such as Matics, aggregates data from all available sources, including machines, existing ERP systems, and experts within the organization, in real-time. This ensures that all teams within an organization have reliable access to the accurate real-time data they need.
Because Matics provides a secure cloud-based solution, any roles suitable for remote work can do so with reliable access to the data they need. The Matics app can be installed on any device for easy remote work set up. With production data aggregated into a single source of truth, Matics saves manufacturers the trouble of establishing remote access for multiple systems.
Implementing a Better Solution for Internal Communication
Effective communication is another area where manufacturers have been struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many roles within manufacturing organizations still relied on simply walking over to another department to ask questions and discuss issues. This isn’t possible when organizations have many roles working remotely, and unnecessary traffic between different areas of a facility is inadvisable during an ongoing pandemic.
These additional challenges come on top of long-standing communication issues that most manufacturers have had to deal with. Inefficient communication between teams within an organization generally leads to information silos, where important data has no way to flow from team to team effectively. Manufacturers need a solution that addresses both their existing and new challenges.
The Matics solution provides a versatile framework for efficient and contextualized communication for individuals and teams within the manufacturing environment. In the same way that the solution aggregates data into a single source of truth for greater clarity and accuracy, keeping communications within a single system eliminates the potential for important messages to be overlooked.
Inter-organization communication platforms make it easy for managers and supervisors to send instant messages to any workstation. Similarly, operators can request technical assistance and inform supervisors of important developments quickly and easily. The versatility extends to other roles within the organization as well, letting technicians receive service calls and send reports through any device.
Matics makes already established lines of communication for manufacturers more efficient and effective; Meetings at all levels of the organization can benefit from enhanced communication, whether for shift change meetings, maintenance reviews, or quarterly planning. With production data available through a centralized dashboard, teams can better prepare for meetings and follow up on action items sooner and more accurately.
Establish More Effective Remote Work With Matics
The transition that manufacturers have had to make during the COVID-19 has been difficult for many industries, with manufacturers having to contend with processes and systems poorly suited to remote work. However, many manufacturers already have permanent solutions to these challenges in place, and it is these manufacturers who are defining what the industry will be moving forward.
Your organization can take a step forward with the Matics solution and solve the information availability and communication problems that come with remote work arrangements. Contact our team today to book a demo and see what Matics can do for you.