Rethink manufacturing: You need more agility than you did before Covid-19

  • Posted on April 29, 2021

Because so many businesses adopted remote working, collaboration, and other technologies to cope with COVID-19, the speed of business is now faster than before the pandemic. Responding to that greater speed as COVID-19 winds down is a particular challenge for manufacturers.

Manufacturers have already started leveraging new technologies to help them recover from COVID-19 disruptions, which are transforming how manufacturers operate. For example, Gartner predicts that by 2024, 50% of factory work will be done remotely. But now manufacturers need to scale these solutions quickly to spur the enterprise-wide innovation and faster speed of business required for competitive advantage in this new era. These are advances you can put in place now. The tools and expertise are here. You can do this.

As the pandemic recedes, it leaves behind an array of transformative challenges for manufacturers to confront. Avanade groups these into three categories: enhancing the workplace and worker experience, strengthening operational and supply-chain resilience, and creating agile and adaptable enterprises. We discuss these in detail in our new guide on solving urgent manufacturing challenges. In previous blogs, we introduced our perspective on worker and workplace evolution and operational and supply chain resilience. Now, is the time to discuss creating agile and adaptable enterprises.

Your customers’ needs have shifted as a result of the pandemic, and their expectations of you have shifted, too. To meet these new needs and expectations, you need to identify the product and service insights that can drive your opportunities, be a catalyst for innovation, increase customer value and maintain your competitive advantage.

For example, many manufacturers have accelerated their evaluation and adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies such as extended reality (XR). Avanade research finds 54% of organizations increasing XR testing or adoption in the wake of the pandemic and the shift to remote working. Augmented and virtual reality are enabling virtual worlds that help improve training efforts, deliver the right skills and expertise exactly when and where they’re needed, and connect employees to each other in rich, previously untapped ways, increasing empathy and engagement.

There are a lot of innovative technologies out there and you need to focus on using the right ones in the right ways for you. Avanade looks at these key scenarios when helping clients:

  • Enhanced client experiences: Intimately understand your individual clients to deliver exceptional, personalized experiences.
  • Integrated supply chain: Quickly integrate new partner and supply chain ecosystems to minimize disruption.
  • New innovative production methods: Advanced analytics enable streamlined planning and production, Mixed Reality supports remote working for sustainable, safer, cost-effective production, and collaborative automation improves efficiency and enables workers to focus on high value add activities.
  • Enhanced employee engagement: Provide access to information exactly when it is needed, train and reskill workers to provide the ability needed to quickly scale and adapt to changing needs, establish a collaborative, inclusive culture of innovation
  • Analyze: Advanced analytics provide the foundation for agile manufacturing, from in depth market analysis, to supply chain and materials planning, through optimized production, and customer engagement.
  • Security: Meet ever increasing security threats with advanced, integrated and secure cloud platforms.

Admittedly, it’s a broad brush of scenarios. But the benefits that forward-thinking manufacturers are already seeing is just as broad. Achieving 40% to 50% faster time to market is just the start for many companies. They’re also gaining increased efficiencies and insight, improved connections with the partner and supply-chain ecosystems, enhanced upskilling and collaboration, and greater resilience with accelerated and sustainable product development.

Earlier in this series, we mentioned how Avanade helped the UK’s National Health Service to produce over 15,000 ventilators in 12 weeks to treat COVID-19 patients, down from the 20 years of normal production time it otherwise would have taken to build them. Remote collaboration on a worldwide scale, which we discussed before, was only one of the innovations used to promote this unprecedented agility. Amazing even to us was our ability to deploy a Dynamics 365 Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system in two weeks that could manage all the parts, ship them and bill them. As our lead on the work, Chris Bingham, noted at the time, “this project was a showcase of speed, acceleration and breaking with tradition, combined with thinking a bit differently.”

Another example: we helped China’s Linde MH, which manufactures counterbalanced forklifts and warehouse trucks and provides related services, transform its analytics process with Power BI and SQL Server running in Azure. Executives now have personalized, self-serve dashboards that deliver exactly the insights they need for more agile decision-making. The 18% to 25% reduction in operating costs is icing on the cake.

Manufacturers around the globe are becoming more agile and adaptable post-COVID with help from Avanade. Could you benefit from our Microsoft Dynamics 365 Rapid Start (Express ERP) for Supply Chain Management. In 10 to 16 weeks, it delivers a Dynamics 365 implementation based on a fit-for-purpose assessment that identifies your priorities. How about our Mixed Reality QuickStart solution, which in two to four weeks delivers a three-phased mixed-reality proof of concept that includes Guides, Remote Assist and HoloLens 2.

Want to know more about the best solutions to address your immediate manufacturing challenges? Download our new guide, Manufacturing Industry 4.0 Solutions or you can contact us today to discuss the best solutions for you or simply click over to our manufacturing website for more.

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