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Your Answer for Managing Major Manufacturing Disruption

Smart Manufacturing, Supply Chain Management, Production Management
September 27, 2022

In past decades, business continuity was mainly considered to respond to the dangers of natural disasters like fires, floods, or hurricanes. The dawn of the internet brought a new focus to continuity; it broadened its definition as companies raced to protect data from cyberattacks and breaches that could shut them down and leave them without critical information.

That definition has been re-challenged with significant disruptions that began with COVID-19 and continued with trade wars, stuck cargo ships, jammed supply lines, and more. These disruptions caused businesses to pivot to new solutions to stay afloat. Many businesses also made frequent raw material substations to address supply chain shortages.

Navigating the “New Normal”

Many commonalities impacted traditional operations and posed challenges for the continuation of businesses:

  1. Less Face Time – Face-to-face interaction has always been a given in work environments. Meetings, collaboration, and shared tasks kept people close. The pandemic shifted massive numbers of workers to remote work - and not just office workers. Sales, technicians, assemblers, and others found themselves in a new environment away from their peers.
  2. Staying “Over There” – Even in industries where contact was critical, such as manufacturing, distancing requirements and other new safety protocols made it more challenging to communicate and collaborate. The production flow of many industries was upended to keep people safe.
  3. Product Changes – Many whole product lines disappeared due to shortages from supply lines or trade wars. And many others saw substitutions for previously reliable ingredients or components. As companies shifted to new products or changed to different packaging formats, work for many operators changed yet again.

The Negative Impact on Efficiency

Before these new realities, companies had been moving toward lean operations. These methodologies were adopted in manufacturing and supply chains to create as little waste as possible. But the type of changes above meant that elements of these methodologies could no longer be practiced effectively.

In companies with traditional monitoring and tracking of production or with a heavy reliance on manual activity, this resulted in problems like:

  • Less communication
  • Poor collaboration
  • Delays in quality checks
  • Shipping irregularities and failures
  • Lags in cycle times due to poor distancing layouts

Using Modern Technology to Manage Disruption

Many of these disruptions aren’t going away anytime soon and will continue to influence business at some level. That’s why so many companies are now looking for a way to manage disruption efficiently into the future and prepare for whatever comes next.

The single best option for manufacturers lies in IIoT technology and digital manufacturing. While disruption interrupted the collaboration, communication, and workflows necessary for close adherence to lean and other methodologies, a smart manufacturing platform can fill those gaps and improve them to a point better than before the disruption occurred.

With a continuity plan and the digital technology of a solution like Plex, companies have the innovative tools needed to maintain and drive business. Because data is real-time, everyone from operators to executives can access the same analytical insights regardless of their physical location.

Smart manufacturing platforms also enable visualization of production so that managers, technicians, mechanics, and operators have a true picture of machine condition and production as it occurs. This capability allows them to be proactive and manage their tasks, even with distancing and other relatively new safety measures in place.

Modern technology also helps manage disruptions to the supply chain. As demand changes and disruption occurs, an innovative solution allows transparency throughout the supply chain to grant planners time to react and mitigate the impact. Plus, with a smart manufacturing platform, many machines can be connected to allow for autonomous or semi-autonomous operations that can be monitored from a distance. This enables automation at a scale not possible before.

If you’re ready to better manage disruption and improve business continuity no matter what comes at you next, then click here to learn more about the Plex Smart Manufacturing Platform.

About the Author

Plex Team

Plex Systems, Inc., a Rockwell Automation company, is the leader in cloud-delivered smart manufacturing solutions, empowering the world’s manufacturers to make awesome products. Our platform gives manufacturers the ability to connect, automate, track and analyze every aspect of their business to drive transformation. The Plex Smart Manufacturing Platform includes solutions for manufacturing execution (MES), ERP, quality, supply chain planning and management, Industrial IoT and analytics to connect people, systems, machines, and supply chains, enabling them to lead with precision, efficiency and agility.