Industrial Shift Towards Contactless Working Operations During And Post COVID
The outburst of COVID has not just impacted human lives but has caused major disruptions in business operations across several industries, including automotive, electronics, consumer goods, etc. Massive impact on the day to day operations has occurred with the shutdown of factories, unavailability of raw material, restriction in logistics, etc. The main reason is the restricted mobility in lockdown by abiding the measures to prevent coronavirus spread, as suggested by the local government.
A large part of the world’s overall business involves direct or indirect contact for procuring the raw material from China and various other countries. Further, manufacturing and sales operations were also heavily impacted during COVID, which heavily influenced the economy. According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), the real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) decreased at an annual rate of 31.4% in the Q2 of 2020.
Immediate Impact of COVID on Economies
With restricted mobility and supply chain disruptions, the manufacturing sector suffered a downfall in the FDI. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), FDI flows will fall by more than 30% in 2020. Further, FDI flows can drop even more in developing economies like the Asia Pacific. This drop is because these sectors are affected severely by the pandemic, including the primary and manufacturing sectors. It is noteworthy that these sectors hold a larger share of their FDI than in the developed economies.
The manufacturers of chemical, electronics, automotive, and aircraft face difficulty regarding the availability of raw materials. In the electronics sector, consumer electronics and smartphone companies have decided to reduce the production operation amid COVID. They have also postponed introducing a new product, which has limited the supply of components in the industry ecosystem. Therefore, companies present across various sectors are planning to formulate strategies to sustain the industry ecosystem by integrating solutions that can trigger contactless working in the manufacturing industry across multiple stages. Most of the companies are in the phase of identifying and prioritizing risks associated with contactless methods. This method involves adopting and shifting towards such solutions for resuming safe operations and gaining a competitive edge in the market over its competitors.
Need for Contactless Operations
In the current situation, technical support to identify and resolve failures in the absence of manual operations at the plant level is essential. Therefore, technologies like AR/VR, remote assistance, etc., can contribute towards analyzing critical bottlenecks in the processes in advance to avoid failures, so this ensures that operations run smoothly.
Contactless working solutions offer enhanced customer experience. An instance of this is the ‘click-to-buy’ online sales platform launched by Honda. This feature has provided its customers with a complete end-to-end online car buying solution that enables them to purchase cars from their homes’ convenience and safety. Such solutions are not just enabling continuous operations during COVID by following the government guidelines of social distancing but are also building their brand image by offering unique solutions to customers.
Increasing Acceptance for Contactless Solutions During COVID
For instance, with mobility restrictions, logistics operations faced immense difficulties during the lockdown, which led to factory shutdowns and heavy losses to the companies. Businesses that were reluctant to adopt technology-driven solutions have resorted to new supply chain tools. These tools have many benefits like improved visibility across the entire distribution network, intelligent routing, logistic cost optimization, and contactless deliveries.
Technologies, including artificial intelligence, machine learning, etc., have brought a fresher outlook to logistics operations by including smart analytics to enhance efficiency without an additional cost.
Continued Adoption Post COVID
Contactless solutions are serving businesses to normalize the situation by ensuring safety by low or no contact and at the same time helping companies achieve operational efficiency and enhanced customer experience. Businesses are also planning long-term strategies to move forward with completely digitalized solutions for their operations, even post COVID. It will help the companies gain a competitive edge in the industry ecosystem over its competitors, a primary goal for any company.
With the advent of this megatrend in the manufacturing sector, with companies gradually adopting and integrating such solutions across various operations, it is expected that digitalization will trigger in the upcoming years. It will improve operational efficiency, cost efficiency, accessibility, and enhance safety and security. All this will enhance customer experience, which will benefit the companies in a highly competitive environment.