The COVID-19 pandemic has influenced the whole planet with its major impacts on the economy and businesses across the globe. The COVID-19 spread worldwide in unprecedented ways due to its high infectious and contagious nature and lack of availability of its vaccine. As a result, the greatest medical challenge in the 21st century is yet to be faced by physicians worldwide. Though the emergence of the virus can be traced back to Asia, many European countries along with the U.S. have been struck massively by the pandemic. The virus has spread across all regions ranging from North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Middle East, and Africa up to South America. The COVID-19 has been declared as a pandemic by World Health Organization (WHO) due to its increased spread across the globe. After the declaration of the pandemic, various countries announced the complete lockdown such as India, China, and other Asian countries to decrease its spread. The economies have been affected adversely as most of the trade and economic activities came to a halt. The unemployment rate has grown due to the impact and the global GDP fell down by -3.5%. According to the situation report of 7th June, 2021 by WHO stated 174 million cases of the corona have been reported globally and 3.7 million patients are dead due to the coronavirus. On a slightly positive note, a total of 157 million people have recovered and total of 1.9 million vaccine doses have been administered as well.
Smart factory is a highly digitized shop floor that continuously collects and shares data through connected machines, devices, and production systems. The data can then be used by self-optimizing devices or across the organization to proactively address issues, improve manufacturing processes and respond to new demands. The system uses sensors and interconnected machines to better control and data collection by connecting the physical and digital world. Smart factories can monitor the entire production process, from manufacturing tools and the supply chain to individual operators on the shop floor.
These factories optimize efficiency and productivity by:
-extending the capabilities of both manufacturing devices and people.
-focusing on creating an agile, iterative production process through data collection, smart factories can aid decision-making processes with stronger evidence.
-continuously improving the productivity of manufacturing processes, smart factories can lower costs, reduce downtime and minimize waste.
-identifying and reducing misplaced or underused production capacities mean opportunities for growth without investing in additional monetary and/or physical resources.
COVID-19 has impacted various forces of smart factory market, globally. Let’s study its:
The smart factory components consist of various sensors and communication electronics to smartly collect data and monitor machines to efficiently run the factory. The demand for smart factory has gone up along with the cost for the transformation as there is increase in demand to cope up with the COVID-19 protocols.
Most of the electronics required for this purpose is manufactured in China which is the origin of COVID-19 virus. Most of the industries are facing electronic components shortage due to this reason. That is why; companies are setting up new plants outside of China and due to these reasons, prices have increased.
The smart factory industry demands have seen a rise well before the pandemic started with the adaptation of industry 4.0 and IoT but the pandemic has pushed this transformation further as industries try to keep up with the challenging economic times.
The industries are forced to work with minimum workforce and the obvious solution is smart factories. So, the demand has increased but the issue lies in the supply side as the components required are electronics and sensors which are sourced from China and Asian countries. The supply chain is impacted as trade restrictions and protocols are placed on a country to country basis for safe trade. This has affected the supply chain of the services and components required to be sourced from various places.
More than 40% of U.K. manufacturers saw their orders decline between 26% and 50% during the past year. Yet manufacturers with fully automated production lines have fared better than most. Shanghai-based steel manufacturer Baoshan Iron and Steel, for example, continued operations around the clock through the application of intelligent technologies like remote maintenance operations, big data and artificial intelligence (AI).
Manufacturers are rethinking competitive advantage for the post-pandemic landscape, applying AI and hybrid cloud to build agility, automation and intelligence across key functional areas. Smart factories can help the post pandemic world as the factories can run with minimum human intervention and the processes can be carried out by following the COVID-19 norms. Manufacturing facilities which have implemented the smart factory technologies continue operations complying with the safety norms. Due to these advantages many manufacturing facilities are looking forward to implement this technology.
Pandemic has taken a toll on every aspect of life, including the global economy. With the significant downfalls in many sectors, a collaborative effort of government, industry players, and consumers can win the fight against COVID-19.
It still continues to inflict the world with appalling economic and social dilemmas, capable enough to leave severe backlash on the economy for the next several years. The first wave had already inflicted severe blows to the population as well as the economy. The currently experiencing second wave is expected to be more disastrous not only to the masses but also to financial markets.
The smart factory technology has a very promising future with the use of connected machines with IIoT and remote management. Due to the pandemic, the manufacturers are realizing the importance of this technology as the industries equipped with this continue with their manufacturing services and have been less impacted in contrast to the facilities having traditional operating practices. That is why many manufacturers are considering equipping their facilities with smart technology.
The smart factory market had a steady growth before the pandemic but post pandemic manufacturers have realized that this is the only way to keep up with the changing times and this has increased the demand of smart factory technologies exponentially but the supply side is still affected as the components are sourced from various countries which has put a strain on the supply chain, increasing the prices.