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DIGITALISATION Manufacturing post-COVID: Technologies to mitigate challenges of the future

Jul 8, 2020

With the manufacturing industry in distress due lockdown and its restarting, organisations are assessing their need for technology and how it can help. To offer better insights on the same, Dassault Systèmes in association with A&D India magazine organised a webinar on ‘Restoring manufacturing operations post COVID-19’. A glimpse of the webinar…

The Indian manufacturing sector, disparate to the present situation, is slowly resuming production. While the ‘new normal’ is dubious, many industries are restarting with the strict guidelines issued by their respective state governments. To retrospect on the future functioning and the role of technology, A&D India magazine, in association with Dassault Systèmes, recently organised a webinar on ‘Restoring manufacturing operations post COVID-19’.

The virtual session set off with a poll for the audience with the question, ‘How do you think the current situation will affect the adoption of advanced technologies like digitalisation in manufacturing industry, going further?’ While 94% people thought the adoption of advanced technologies would increase, only 6% felt the adoption would decrease, which set a positive platform to begin the session.

Deferring the usual approach

With the resumption of industry operations, there has also been news of employees being exposed to the virus, losing restart risks. In the introductory session, Arun Rao, Senior Director, Sales & Geo Strategy, Dassault Systèmes, discussed the looming concerns for the auto industry while restarting and stated, “The changes in the demand and the way supply has to come in is hampering some of the manufacturing set-ups to resume ‘business as usual’ kind of approach.” He added that with the way new things are coming up, there needs to be an emphasis on innovation, sustainability and resilience.

Efficiency & use of technology for efficiency

Experts on technologies, Kiran Divekar, Director, Brand Lead Delmia, India, Dassault Systèmes and Bhavesh Kumar, Director, Brand Lead Simulia, India, Dassault Systèmes, took over the session from Rao. Beginning off on ‘Manufacturing operations post-COVID’, Divekar evaluated the operational best practises with respect to social distancing, impact of COVID on production and how organisations can mitigate workforce challenges. He discussed the four key factors, i e, optimum workforce to manage the social distancing norms, impact of workforce shortage on shop floor, assessing the need for additional/reduced shift circuits and analysing the need for changes in layout, to become more efficient. “Digital technologies and simulation can help analyse the impact on productivity and evaluate different KPIs,” asserted Divekar.

To further analyse ‘How simulation is going to help in operations post-COVID-19’, Kumar continued on Divekar’s analogy on the use of Multiphysics simulation. He engaged on reimaging solutions, how simulation helps in reducing cost and why it is important to have simulation across product life cycle. “Simulation technologies can help in planning, scheduling and therefore, making the testing and prototyping process more efficient,” commented Kumar.

Shop floor & workforce of the future

Further, discussing ‘Planning and optimisation’, Divekar touched upon critical supply chain challenges manufacturing companies are grappling with in the present times and KPI-driven supply chain modelling software to prepare shop floors for tomorrow. “The implementation of solutions deployed needs to be rapid because the challenges have to be solved now. It’s not something we want to solve six months down the line,” stressed Divekar. He went on to discuss the challenges that organisations are set to witness with the labour exodus happening. He prompted the best way to move on is by assessing the demand cycle, if low or high, then to adjudge on the optimal staff needed to ensure production runs smoothly.

Smart change to prompt & nimble

To gain insights on the nuances of restarting manufacturing operations amidst social distancing, the role of digitalisation moving forward & the ideal approach, the new normal and actionable strategies, the webinar continued with a panel discussion on ‘Restoring manufacturing operations post COVID-19’. The discussion moderated by Shekhar Jitkar, Publisher & Chief Editor, Publish Industry India, comprised Rao, Divekar and Kumar. Jitkar commenced the discussion with the question on how the Indian manufacturing organisations need to be better prepared to restart considering the ‘new normal’ regulations setting in to Rao, who retorted, “In order to overcome the current situation, technology will play a key role. Not just technologies, going ahead, trying to leverage the concept of digitisation to the maximum possible extent will help mitigate and understand the challenges organisations are facing.” Commenting on the methods of smart change in manufacturing to balance the cost pressure and performance, Kumar accentuated, “Use of technologies, like simulation, is going to only increase in the post-COVID world. It is essential that the impact of the use case technology (simulation) reaches across the organisation.” Further explicating on skilling in the present times, Divekar emphasised, “Skilling, upskilling and reskilling is going to be much more important now. It will help in increase in productivity, cross-functionality of teams and to make business prepare for the future.” Finally, in closing, to explain the key factors for organisational success, now, Rao ascertained, “The virus is going to stay for some more time, and that’s for sure. The employers will need to now focus on three things – employee well-being, saving cost and taking care of risk management.”

Preserving, protecting and ramping up

The webinar by Dassault Systèmes, in total, highlighted the need for manufacturing organisations to preserve the integrity of their business and protect their people at the same time. It also touched upon the necessity to ramping up of production and plan for the future, which can make them flexible for any future altercations.

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