In the last one year, COVID-19 has not left any sector untouched. With disruptions due to lockdowns, social distancing norms and safety measures to protect customers & employees, industrial companies have undergone a significant transformation, especially within enterprise management, as digital technologies have led to new customer experiences as well as new sales & marketing services. Moreover, the pandemic has exposed the fragility of many sectors, driving companies worldwide towards witnessing the next big revolution in industrial history, the one brought on by ‘Intelligent Industry’. Companies are now, more than ever, driven to use data, embedded software, Artificial Intelligence, new generation wireless connectivity and other digital processes to rethink the products and processes that they offer to clients while reimagining their operations and inventing new services and business models.
Intelligent Industry goes beyond what we currently know as ‘Industry 4.0’. It is the next level of digital transformation – the one which is powered by data. Businesses taking an industry-intelligent approach will see a wide range of benefits such as producing new and differentiated ‘smart’ and connected products, reducing costs, improving supply chains, creating new customer experiences and delivering new sources of value with faster time-to-market. Although today’s product might look as if not much has changed, there have been huge changes in terms of what is going on inside them. They are internally driven by digital technology more than ever before. These smart products churn out almost unimaginable amounts of data, opening avenues for companies to find insights to improve operational performance, reliability and autonomy, bring innovations, drive lower costs and deliver intelligent products to the market faster.
Today, every industry’s structure is faced with the challenge of harnessing data at scale, which calls for creating a manufacturing model with self-learning at its core and using data gathered as the foundation of new value chains. The use cases of Intelligent Industry are limitless and span across industries world over. In Spain, a collaboration with four leading industry players in the fight against COVID-19 has led to the development of AI models in chest x-rays, which allows healthcare professionals to leverage advanced diagnostic tools from any location through advanced connectivity like 5G while assuring patient data privacy. Using industrial IoT solutions, an oil and gas major transformed its shop floor processes and manufacturing execution systems in Italy to achieve productivity gains and prevent 26,000 hours of valuable machine downtime across all its plants in just five months. Smart engineering solutions leveraging AR, VR and mixed reality for validation of train systems have led to developing an award-winning virtual train solution in France.
Leveraging the extensive capabilities of the Intelligent Industry, mobility will be made smarter and safer by autonomous vehicles, while research and customer insights will reach manufacturers quicker, enabling them to launch personalised products, resulting in less waste. In addition, edge computing will make it possible to run applications close to the source of action. Combining 5G and edge, Intelligent Industry promises to bring business and customers even closer, and this ‘zero distance’ makes way for new experiences for consumers on how they move, shop, communicate, consume content and ensure healthy living.