Manufacturing during COVID-19: Ramping up again
June 4, 2020 at
Most manufacturing executives understand that we are in a period of industry disruption so sweeping that it has already earned the weighty title Fourth Industrial Revolution. The source of this disruption has been a wide range of new and emerging digital technologies that have the ability to radically transform processes and even render them obsolete.
In the aftermath that follows the COVID-19 crisis we will not see a “return to normal.” This will redefine operational optimization, and consider new measures of what constitutes a good return. The urgency of dealing with today’s shock to the workforce and customers cannot be allowed to eclipse tomorrow’s needs for planning, development and deployment of the technology required to operate in the world that we must now build together.
As Canadian manufacturers contemplate the challenges facing their industry, they would do well to remember Mark Twain’s quip: “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” If manufacturers are to count themselves among those who survive and then thrive, it won’t be enough for them merely to talk about it – they too must do something about it.
Canada is currently ranked as the world’s tenth largest manufacturer, but maintaining or improving that position will largely depend on whether or not the industry seizes the opportunities provided by new technologies to transform processes, reduce costs, build better ecosystems, spur innovation, and attract highly skilled workers.
With these new technologies available to all, Canada cannot afford to be a laggard in their uptake. However, 55% of our manufacturers have not yet invested in advanced manufacturing technologies and one in five does not intend to do so in the next five years. There is much work to be done. Canadian manufacturers are already in catch-up mode, and the current climate demands an aggressive surge forward with digital transformation. To help ensure success, organizations need to transform their business models and focus on evolving the workforce to be more digital and to nurture a company culture that embraces change.
This is no small feat. Companies will need all hands on deck in order to thrive. The time to start doing something is now.