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September 2020: Manufacturing Outlook

Tech that Bridges the Manufacturing Skills Gap and the Connected Worker During COVID-19 and Beyond

There has been a lot of talk about the Connected Worker in the manufacturing sector. The Connected Worker converges different technology trends such as Cloud, mobile, web, chat, social, wearables, AI/ML (artificial intelligence/machine learning) to change the entire working life of a companies’ front-line workers. During COVID, it is more important than ever that manufacturers enable workers with important ERP (enterprise resource planning) operational data, as well as empower them with step-by-step guided work instructions that ensure the job is done faster, more accurately, reducing costs, and enhancing safety.

By 2050, the world population is estimated to grow from 7.6 billion to 9.6 billion. This growing population will boost consumer demand across all industries. This growing demand means that investments in production and manufacturing facilities, will create many new jobs and have positive impact on the economy.

Sundeep Ravande, CEO of Innovapptive Inc. believes in a better way of running operations. In most manufacturing enterprises, operations are a set of tedious linear steps – slow, inaccurate, and highly inefficient. Ravande believes field work can be done faster, cheaper, and safer. By digitally and autonomously connecting humans, machines, and workflows in the 21st century economy, a Connected Workforce will be part of the global manufacturing experience.

Ravande identified the four significant challenges that manufacturing operations will face:

Digital Natives – The New “Front-Line” Worker – The growth in population translates to new front- line workers born digital natives. They expect everything in their lives to be digitally presented. These new front-line workers will be expected to perform highly complex jobs and processes with minimal human interactions. This has become abundantly clear during the pandemic. Experts will not be available to handhold these front-line workers, which makes things harder to keep machines running and spare parts available at the right time at the right place.

Disappearance of Tribal Knowledge - The tribal knowledge held by current expert front-line workers will disappear very soon. The average age of the front-line worker is currently 44.1 years and most of these workers will leave the workplace over the next decade, creating a significant skills gap. Despite the current unemployment rate due to COVID, there are critical skills and talent gaps impacting the ability of asset-intensive industries to recruit, train, and retain a workforce with suitable competencies.

Shrinking Profit Margins - The growing pressure on profit margins and talent challenges are felt across all aspects of the manufacturing sector. Industries are facing increasing demand from customers to deliver higher value at a lower cost.

Worker Safety - During the pandemic, manufacturers have implemented new safety procedures, risk assessments, and contact tracing. This new normal has become an integral part of running a manufacturing operation with fewer interruptions. Social distancing requires awareness of workers' health and physical location within a plant. Both regulatory compliance and litigation mitigation are part of the new Connected Worker model.

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