COVID-19 has created shock waves in all fronts of human life. At the operational level, the focus is on two things – first is the healthcare emergency (how to contain the spread of coronavirus), and the second is how to sustain economically with resulting doubts on demands. This is true in an individual manufacturing setup, irrespective of its scale of operation. Survival, recovery and remaining a healthy business by reducing the damages have become a priority for manufacturing units. This is because of volatile product demand driven by the need for reducing total cost of ownership of a product and lack of real-time visibility in other business attributes.
In India, with unfettered market led globalisation, unfortunately, manufacturing industries operate with full dependency on import for technology, material and supply chain, that too with a single source. Moreover, many industries that solely depend on the China supply chain are in a supply crisis due to many governments shutting off their manufacturing industries. The idea of gated-globalisation is now realised, that ensures gaining currency by promoting creation and development of indigenous technology, multiple value chains and alternative supply chains. These must become their organisational culture for the long-term sustainability of Indian manufacturing.
The opportunities available before Indian industries for survival, recovery and sustainability include the following:
Cost of confidence
The focus must be on confidence building over home grown technology through every channel. This might change with what we regard as premium services. What is required is justifiable optimism, particularly on low hanging fruits which are demonstrated to a great extent.
Product-process technology in India
Product innovation i.e. engineering of original products/processes has not taken place in India to the expected level. It is a chain reaction – new product designs call for new process technologies, new machineries, new set of process data and controlling data. Moreover, first and the only supply chain always dominates the market. COVID-19 has created an opportunity for Indian manufacturing units, as several governments shut-off their companies, including the supply chain from China. Indian manufacturing units could fill the gap if one focuses on product-process innovation and becomes a supply chain to the global market.
Redefining business strategies
The change in mantra in the business believes that every business must be a healthy business. This belief will sell now and for some more time. Manufacturing industries need to be flexible enough to understand how they can be a part of a new health emergency that will continue to dominate in the minds of citizens.
Digital transformation and IIoT
Pre-COVID-19 crisis, the business objective of digital transformation and IIoT/Industry 4.0 was to make well-run manufacturing houses to run better as smart factories. Taking competitive advantage, increasing productivity and innovation were the drivers for digital transformation. However, post-COVID-19, the drivers have been changed as the survival and damage control aids – real-time visibility on several business attributes has become need of the day. The success of digital transformation doesn’t depend on technology alone but on what is developed on collaboration & the reach.