We do not know for sure if the worst is over in the COVID-19 pandemic, but the lessons learned have been many, and those who are not applying them now risk being overwhelmed by the fierce competition expected in the shrinking markets we will see in the coming months.
The pandemic, as a side effect, accelerates the transformation process of the industry, opens opportunities for technology adoption and requires adaptation to new consumer needs
The impact of the pandemic has been particularly hard on industry, one of the sectors most affected by the containment measures. Industry, which had already embarked on its particular transformation – towards more sustainable and technology-based models – is seeing how the new scenario is accelerating change and redoubling its commitment to innovation.
Although the evolution of manufacturing had already become an unstoppable process, the Covid-19 is going to accelerate that transformation: what was going to happen in ten years is now going to happen in three or five because companies have to adapt to new needs. In this acceleration of the process, innovation is a key element as an engine of transformation, new solutions and competitiveness.
In recent months, with the exception of the agri-food and cleaning product industries, it has experienced one of the worst situations in its history with an unprecedented drop in sales. This is something that has never been experienced before; now, reactivation is a challenge and innovation will play a leading role. The Covid-19 is an opportunity to accelerate projects that were pending of mature technology, bringing innovation from the future to the present.
The positive side is that technology and digitalization will be key tools for rebuilding the economy. These are not magic solutions that will immediately cause an Oh my God! among those who know them, but the intensive application of existing technological tools that will allow companies, in addition to increasing their productivity, to become more flexible and to employ their workforce more efficiently.
There are many manufacturing companies that had pending the revision of their processes for the introduction of machine tools (conveyor belts, welding robots, warehouse robots, etc.) not only to gain in productivity, but also to be able, at a given time, to stop all or part of the machinery (or control it remotely during a confinement) without having to stop the rest of the company.
The management processes will be equally affected and the methods that have been used up to now to manage production will be displaced by integrated management systems that will allow us to control at a glance from the status of our raw material order and the expected reception date to the outstanding invoices from customers, including the level of by-product generated or its possible amortization or the stock levels in the different distributors. In this way, something that we could call corporate intelligence (in no case artificial intelligence, as fashionable as it may be) will be applied to decision making. In this way, knowing that a supplier cannot attend to our order because it is in a confined area, we will be able to organize the working days in advance, or direct the efforts of our commercials towards products that we will be able to serve.
Those, on the other hand, who think that all this was just a simple stumbling block and that everything will be the same again in a few months, will be faced with the market, when the market hits, hits hard; better to be prepared.