COVID-19 has literally changed the world, from the way people live to how businesses operate amid a crisis.
Most organizations suffered after the first blow, though they gradually came to terms with the change. Offices were closed, and employees were sent home to work remotely as a part of the new workplace norms.
Every business vertical changed in some way or the other, but the transition was more challenging for a few domains. Traditional segments that rely more on people had a tough time.
The industrial segment is among the hardest hit ones during the global pandemic, and the reasons are obvious. Since the domain is inherently traditional, the scope for tech adoption for a business operating therein is limited.
Still, the ones that embraced technology easily made it to the post-pandemic era. Beyond survival and sustenance, the focus is on recovery and resilience in the new normal.
Fortunately, industries can easily make a comeback with the right approach and plan. Let us share some insights from top leaders to help you reinvent your industrial business.
1. Unlock hybrid productivity
Although the situation is a tad better in 2021, the crisis is not over yet. Vaccines are around, and curves are flatter, but the virus is still here. It may hit back as a new strain or resurgent wave, as it has already happened in many countries.
So there are no ways businesses can get complacent about it. Taking things frivolously can endanger employees and even disrupt the business itself. It makes sense to have a viable comeback plan that keeps your facility going today and in the future.
Unlocking hybrid productivity is the mainstay of future readiness for industries. You may have to make rapid shifts between physical and remote working models, depending on the prevailing situations.
Ensure that your people and operations are well-aligned to deliver the highest levels of productivity with both models. They should be comfortable with both and have the right tools and training for them. Productivity shouldn’t suffer at any cost, no matter how things pan out in the future.
2. Boost employee safety
Even as you pick the hybrid model for operating, you will have to call people back to the factory at some point. As an employer, employee safety at the workplace is your responsibility.
It should be your top priority in post-pandemic times because a focus on employee well-being can help your business in many ways. It makes you an ideal employer, boosts employee loyalty, and increases long-term retention.
Boosting employee safety is crucial as you restart your manufacturing operations in the new normal. Think beyond basic video conferencing applications and contact-tracing mobile apps. You can invest in more advanced solutions such as wearable technologies and machine-vision algorithms to maintain safe distancing on the factory floor.
3. Build an intelligent factory
Intelligent manufacturing technologies have been around for some time, and many companies have already embraced them. If you haven’t done it yet, now is the time to adopt them.
They can help you create a sustainable future for your business, whether your team operates on-site or remotely. Investing in AI solutions and IoT sensors can give you a head start with remote work and social distancing on the factory floor.
AI facilitates predictive maintenance of machines, so you can handle potential problems even before they happen. It can prevent industrial disruption, which can be a killer for any organization. Similarly, IoT-powered devices and machines let workers operate them from anywhere.
It will be much easier to enforce the rules of social distancing when you have sensor-powered machines that rely less on the human workforce.
4. Invest in supply chain resilience
When it comes to reinventing industries, supply chain resilience deserves special attention. You must invest in holistic industrial automation that extends beyond automated devices and covers supply chains too.
A complete redesign of geographically dispersed supply chains will give you a good start with the vision. Investing in an intelligent material handling solution is a great way to build supply chain resilience for your factory.
You will have better control over warehousing, backlogged goods, and fluctuating inventory volumes with supply chain automation. It gives real-time visibility and insights to help you adapt decisions according to changing circumstances on time. You will be in a better position to handle disruptions if they do happen again in the future.
Further, these solutions reduce the cost of ownership, which is another plus point for pandemic-ridden businesses.
5. Empower your workforce
Empowering people is as crucial as modernizing operations if you want to build a resilient business in the new normal. Equip them with the latest manufacturing technology and skills they need to keep pace with the changing trends.
A team that can adapt to current challenges can lead your business towards success. Investing in training and re-skilling initiatives that make your team tech-driven is the best move for any business owner.
Consider investing in high-end training solutions with Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality solutions. These technologies enhance the levels of training and engagement with lifelike projections of industrial processes.
Further, you can leverage them for remote training of employees without getting them at one place at the same time.
6. Connect sales and service
Industries need to think beyond plant and manufacturing right now. It is vital to connect sales and customer support services to ensure the delivery of top-notch services and support to the customers.
At this point, you need a bigger team that extends beyond the labor directly engaged in the manufacturing processes. It is equally important to have smart sales and service resources on board.
Your contact center employees should be trained and equipped to provide consistent, personalized support even as they work remotely. They must also have the right tools and resources to pass on valuable information to customers.
Further, these tools enable them to resolve customer queries and complaints. Overall, a robust customer support team ensures customer engagement throughout a product’s life cycle rather than only at the time of sales.
7. Keep pace with digitization
More than anything else, keeping pace with digitization is the most crucial aspect of industrial revival in the new normal. The leadership must have a viable digital transformation strategy that drives business towards relevance and resilience.
It is equally important to be agile when it comes to adopting new technologies within Industry 4.0. Unless you do it before the competitors, you will end up losing the competitive advantage.
Business disruptions such as the pandemic show the significance of digitization for manufacturers. Learn the lesson and stay ahead of technology, even if you haven’t taken it seriously before. Digital transformation is not just for survival but a viable investment for the long haul. So you must go ahead with it without thinking twice because it can be an opportunity to grow and thrive in the future.
The need of the hour is to rebuild and realign your industrial operations with the new normal. You cannot expect to stay operational and profitable with the traditional way of work.
Innovation gets you there, and you must embrace it at all levels, from core operations to supply chain, employee training, and customer support. It will make your business ready for the challenges and opportunities ahead.
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I am Adeyemi Adetilewa, a media consultant, entrepreneur, husband, and father. Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Ideas Plus Business Magazine, online business resources for entrepreneurs. I help brands share unique and impactful stories through the use of public relations, advertising, and online marketing. My work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Addicted2Success, Hackernoon, The Good Men Project, and other publications.