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Manufacturing Smartly in Changing Times
November 17, 2020 News


The amount of technology used in the manufacturing industry today is mindboggling. From automated machinery using AI to robots to operational technology software, technology can be applied to almost any part of the factory.

As such, manufacturers themselves are now realising this in their journey to achieve IR4.0 and are relying on much less human labour for most of their tasks. While the journey is still ongoing, the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything. Businesses soon found themselves not fully prepared to have their employees working remotely, especially in plants which still required some form of manual labour.

Those that were prepared were also concerned as most of their business continuity plans were not planned for the long-term. Eventually, manufacturers found themselves struggling as supply and demand was changing rapidly. There were still issues with downtime, maintenance that affected productivity, causing delays in output.

At the same time, the pandemic saw demand for other products. Businesses that were resourceful were able to switch to producing market demand products. According to Alex Teo, Managing Director and Vice President of Siemens Digital Industries for South East Asia, the focus before was more on efficiency and not much on resilience. However, when the pandemic struck, a lot of things changed.

For example, companies that were manufacturing goods like vacuum cleaners, cars, soon found themselves manufacturing ventilators. The manufacturers had to start thinking whether they could build a line not just on flexibility but on resilience.

To help businesses deal with these problems, Siemens had to also be able to switch the mechanisms of their machinery provided to these manufacturers, to be able to support the changes in the industry, especially in dealing with the supply of such products.

Yet, manufacturers switching from building cars to ventilators is no easy task. Businesses need to make some investments to be able to ensure they have the right tools and technology. And the challenging bit was getting this sorted out in a time when most employees were working at home. Siemens made sure they were able to provide the support needed for businesses in ensuring they are resilient towards the changes.


The Right Choices 

“One of the misconceptions of digital transformation is the move from a cost mindset to an investment mindset. By leveraging technology, they are actually able to reduce and save costs. The ROI will be beyond just dollars and cents as it also opens up new business models and opportunities”, said Alex.

True enough, Siemens themselves saw an increase in demand for their products and services during the pandemic. Although the skills shortage was a challenge, most businesses were able to adapt and make use of their resources smartly, ensuring there was minimal disruption.

The digital twin, technology once thought only applicable to large enterprises were now also being sought by SMEs. Alex pointed out that Siemens are able to cater to customers based on their needs, ensuring they have the right technologies.

“People are going to rely more on the digital twin concept because you can’t make physical changes fast enough to cope with market demands. With every crisis, there comes an opportunity. Those that are able to leverage on this crisis and turn it into an opportunity will be the eventual winner”, said Alex.

While it’s uncertain how the future may end up, resiliency is key for businesses. And Siemens is there to provide businesses with the technology needed to ensure they remain relevant. In the video below, Alex explains more about how Siemens is making it possible for businesses.