The global automotive industry is reeling under the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. Though a lot of companies are looking forward to resuming the operations, regulatory uncertainties, labor shortage, and growing concerns about health will remain a point of concern to ramp up efficiently
The automotive industry, on the other hand, is facing a slowdown as compared to the previous decade. This will result in a reduction in margins and additional pressure on various cost elements. If you observe the trend, manufacturing advancements are one of the vital aspects influencing the industry growth, positively stimulating the economy by attaining significant productivity and cost improvements.
Thanks to the technological shift over the past two decades, including the introduction and evolution of Industry 4.0 technologies. The industry is no win a better position to handle these challenging times. It is important to note that Industry 4.0 is not just about upgradation of technical, automotive advancements, and data protection. It is also about the stability and security of workers and industrial assets.
The usage of large data applications, collaborative robots, and automated transport robots has increased as companies begin to implement the 4.0 practices and technologies in their plants. Implementation of Augmented Reality (AR) for remote assistance and problem-solving, AI for facial detection of quality inspectors, Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) for material movement on the shop floor, and Cobots to undertake repetitive tasks is becoming prevalent.
In simpler terms, Industry 4.0 is to reinvent industrial processes to boost efficiency, productivity, optimize costs, and provide value to customers, among others, by using advanced technologies. The evolution of industry 4.0 has inspired the industry to be more competitive and innovative, thus contributing to the manufacturing value chain.
Adopting Virtual Workplace
The automotive industry features vast process control systems followed by enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and IT systems. As India begins to resume operations, we need to consider what more could be done to ensure that we can continue to function effectively and ensure we can work optimally in similar situations in the future. The industry must have more efficient tools to mitigate the impact of the lockdown or to handle the ripple effect of COVID-19 in the long run.
Post lockdown, to further maintain social distancing, few roles would be working remotely from home, while the critical production resource enabling the operations, will be on the shop floor,
it might become challenging to track and monitor operations. With the adoption of the virtual workplace and using an integration platform to merge data from these tools, automakers can generate real-time views for the business and operations remotely. Data can circulate across supply chains, which might help the partners to spot the most recent trends. The efficacy of supply chain management is crucial in every sector. Virtual Workplace Systems integrate all the ERP systems and business processes into one system, which entails end-to-end supply chain planning from customer demand planning,- suppliers’ order seeking, to customer order fulfillment.
Establish IoT Enabled Sensors And Devices
Over the years, the Internet of Things (IoT) adoption has done miracles. IoT adoption can show every device, including the components of the device, into a knowledge creator. Rigorous implementation of sensor technology on the factory floor can remove blind spots. This may give a holistic view of operations to the management, helping them in monitoring and operating from anywhere. IoT will pave a new way for the future mobility era and the upcoming economy.
Deployment Of Cobots
The automotive industry features vast process control systems followed by enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and IT systems
Cobot, or Collaborative Robots, are complex machines that conduct complicated mechanical operations and are designed to work alongside and together with humans. Unlike traditional robots, which are autonomous in their operations, cobots are designed to share the workspace with humans. They are generally employed to perform tasks that can result in being repetitive, burdening, hazardous, or unergonomic, such as assembly, carrying heavy components, and quality inspection.
As manufacturing slowly resumes in India and across the world, the primary challenge will continue to be the labor force, which is a critical factor in ensuring that a company can meet its deadlines and honor its production commitments. Cobots can be very useful in these situations, collaborating with humans and assisting them with critical tasks. In a situation like social distancing, cobots can help in areas where the density of workers in the manual lines is high to maintain line efficiency. In such cases, enough cobots can be deployed to maintain productivity and social distancing between workers.
Use AR/AI Tools.
The application of AI in the manufacturing industry is growing at an exponential rate. The use of collaborative Robots, AI-enabled quality checks, AGVs, remote assistance, automatic replenishments, etc. are some of the use cases of AI and AR in the Indian manufacturing sectors. Soon, we might also see the implementation of Virtual Reality and Connected Technologies in product planning, quality designing, solving frequent shop floor problems, and much more. The possibilities are infinite.
The implementation of lockdown might have been instant but getting back to “normal” might be a long journey for all the industries. However, technological advancements can take us there faster. Newer technologies are addressing the inhibitions raised due to COVID-19 through less human-to-human contact and need to travel, increasing the ability to work with the lesser on-site workforce, etc. However, onemustbe wary of the barriers to embracing these technologies. Lack of skill, data security, culture change, availability of capital investment, etc., are few of the challenges which need to be tackled. Migration to Industry 4.0 would be more acceptable if it is focussing on all aspects of business and not just addressing few necessities which have come out of COVID-19 situation.
The transition towards industry 4.0 has always been one of the priorities for the manufacturing industry, but post lockdown this will be rapid.