Accenture: industrial manufacturing post COVID-19
With COVID-19 evolving at unprecedented speed and scale, we take a look at the ways industrial equipment manufacturing can manage the effects on operations.
In its most recent report, Accenture stresses that “no industry is immune and the industrial equipment is no exception.”
“Industrial equipment companies are grappling with the immediate impact of COVID-19 as both their manufacturing and supply chain operations are being disrupted, and their customers’ own operations face similar challenges. This is having an exponential effect down the whole supplier network, hitting industrial equipment companies with a lag, but at full force nonetheless,” comments Accenture.
With industrial equipment companies already facing economic uncertainty, the COVID-19 pandemic has further added a layer of complexity to the challenging environment.
Current global industrial equipment industry statistics:
US$3trn in revenue, representing 25% of manufacturing GDP (21% in the US, 25.4% in Europe and 32.9% in Japan)
Its workforce represents up to 30% of all manufacturing employees
“Industrial equipment manufacturers must act now to preserve the integrity of their operations and protect their people while preparing for the ramping back up of their operations and the future post COVID-19,” says Accenture.
How to manage the current situation
“There is no 'one-size-fits-all' solution,” highlights Accenture, due to the scale and diversity of the sector. With global operations relying on international supply chains, which are currently under immense pressure, business continuity and prioritisation should be the main focus for organisations.
“The scale of the impact on supply chains eclipses anything most Industrial companies have had to deal with. And right now, companies must ensure the most resilient supply chain possible whilst protecting their workforce,” says Accenture.
Three key requirements for organisations:
Establish a command center and begin rapid response deployment
Rapidly adjust operations and continue response cycle
Establish an ongoing operating capability
“All of this must be done with a specific focus and prioritisation on their customers' core needs, as client-centricity continues to be of the essence.”
At the same time, organisations need to harness virtual working where possible to keep people safe whilst maintaining the highest level of productivity.
“This change in the current ways of working will clearly stress existing IT infrastructure and systems. System resilience is of the utmost importance putting even more pressure than before on technology teams and IT infrastructure across the whole enterprise,” says Accenture.
“Digital channels must be leveraged to their fullest extent to keep commercial links with customers and partners as well as the products, machines and assets in operation.”
With lockdowns emerging all over the world, current cash reserves within industrial equipment organisations “can only afford a full lock-down of business for a maximum of 2-3 months. Yet those same cash reserves are also vital to prepare the company to ramp up business and go back to industrial markets.”
Requirements for companies:
Repriorities investments and put on hold all non-essential investment programs
Establish cost reduction initiatives across the enterprise with immediate and longer term impacts
“This makes managing the Covid-19 crisis a timeline battle: the remaining cash buffer vs the necessary financial demands to revive the company,” comments Accenture.
Reinventing the industrial equipment industry
Accenture states that, while focusing now on maintaining their customers’ core operations, companies should also start anticipating the ramping back up of the business. “They must take a longer-term view and think through the post COVID-19 implications.”
“There are several critical business capabilities industrial equipment manufacturers will have to adjust,” adds Accenture.
Anticipated changes to the industry:
Differentiated and resilient supply chains by customer segment
Resilient and distributed IT infrastructure and systems
Digital channels and ecommerce platforms.
“Industrial Equipment companies will need to scale their leverage of digital across the enterprise and its ecosystem – from PoC to scale deployment. But this requires rethinking the portfolio of products with an acceleration of the development of digital services,” says Accenture.
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Fluent.ai x BSH: Voice Automating the Assembly Line
Fluent.ai has deployed its voice recognition solutions in one of BSH’s German factories. BSH leads the market in producing connected appliances—its brands include Bosch, Siemens, Gaggenau, NEFF, and Thermador, and with this new partnership, the company intends to cut transition time in its assembly lines.
According to BSH, voice automation will yield 75-100% efficiency gains—but it’s the collaboration between the two companies that stands out. ‘After considering 11 companies for this partnership, we chose Fluent.ai because of their key competitive differentiators’, explained Ion Hauer, Venture Partner at BSH Startup Kitchen.
What Sets Fluent.ai Apart?
After seven years of research, the company developed a wide range of artificial intelligence (AI) software products to help original equipment manufacturers (OEM) expand their services. Three key aspects stood out to BSH, which operates across the world and in unique factory environments.
- Robust noise controls. The system can operate even in loud conditions.
- Low latency. The AI understands commands quickly and accurately.
- Multilingual support. BSH can expand the automation to any of its 50+ country operations.
How Voice Automation Works
Instead of pressing buttons, BSH factory workers will now be able to speak into a headset fitted with Fluent.ai’s voice recognition technology. After uttering a WakeWord, workers can use a command to start assembly line movement. As the technology is hands-free, workers benefit from less physical strain, which will both reduce employee fatigue and boost line production.
‘Implementing Fluent’s technology has already improved efficiencies within our factory, with initial implementation of the solution cutting down the transition time from four seconds to one and a half”, said Markus Maier, Project Lead at the BSH factory. ‘In the long run, the production time savings will be invaluable’.
Future Global Adoption
In the coming years, BSH and Fluent.ai will continue to push for artificial intelligence on factory lines, pursuing efficiency, ergonomics, and a healthy work environment. ‘We started with Fluent.ai on one factory assembly line, moved to three, and [are now] considering rolling the technology out worldwide’, said Maier.
Said Probal Lala, Fluent.ai’s CEO: ‘We are thrilled to be working with BSH, a company at the forefront of innovation. Seeing your solution out in the real world is incredibly rewarding, and we look forward to continuing and growing our collaboration’.