Unveiling Business Spend to Unlock Manufacturing Growth
Manufacturing has been one of the hardest-hit sectors during the pandemic – and despite , there is still a long way to go on the road to recovery. Since March, the sector has been battling a range of challenges – from operating with reduced workforces to implementing social distancing measures in typically worker-dense settings. This is whilst firms have been facing ongoing pressures to innovate and make use of new Industry 4.0 technologies.
Amidst worsening factory slow-down and rising job cuts, normal trading levels are not anticipated any time soon. In fact, findings by revealed 37% of companies believe it will take longer than 12 months.
The biggest challenges keeping the manufacturing c-suite up at night at present are issues surrounding cash flow and liquidity following a downward turn in demand, production and revenues. In such an uncertain and pressurised economic environment, these business leaders are under increasing pressure to make immediate cost savings. This is where leveraging strategic cost measures will be crucial to mitigate the impact of the short-term pandemic fallout – whilst cost optimisation will be essential to rebuilding the sector and long-term success.
A rocky road ahead
Never before has the industrial world been confronted with so many simultaneous challenges, and options to innovate. Whilst the pandemic has been more than enough for businesses to deal with, ongoing turbulence is set to send further shockwaves through the economy, and for manufacturers in particular. Brexit is likely to bring major global supply chain disruptions – affecting suppliers by driving reduced demand and impacting the ability to fulfil orders on time. Manufacturers will also need to consider potential charges and tariffs for cross-border trading – which are likely to add increased pressure during an already volatile economic climate. And though the UK’s official withdrawal is just weeks away, .
Balancing survival with innovation
Focusing on the now is all well and good – and necessary – but ensuring future growth will rely heavily on implementing the right people, skills, and industrial technologies. Never has there been a greater need for manufacturers to embrace a range of industrial technologies to not only navigate current market challenges but to future-proof themselves in a rapidly advancing landscape. IoT, AI, analytics, augmented reality (AR), digital twins, blockchain and cloud computing are just some of the Industry 4.0 technologies available for today’s manufacturer, but current economic fears are seeing some firms turn away from such tools to focus purely on survival mode. Where cost pressures continue to mount, innovation can often be deprioritised – tech-fit manufacturers will be the strongest in the survival of the fittest.
Building agility by minimising and reallocating cost
Even before the arrival of COVID-19, business support functions within manufacturing were under pressure from senior management to shift their modus-operandi from being . And for manufacturers committed to success in the new normal, uncovering the truths behind current financial and operational situations, and adjusting both spend and strategy in light of that knowledge, will be essential.
To accomplish this, manufacturers need Analysing this information must lead to a clear understanding of costs vs value, to inform effective investment planning – which in turn enables the right, data-powered decisions. Responses, whether they be to financial challenges, operational or market changes, customer demands or specific business cases, should be automated where possible – to drive up efficiency while driving down both error and cost.
To build resilience in an uncertain time, it is necessary to have the means to allocate, track and accurately declare costs, while simultaneously transforming the business model, organisational design and staff working patterns to that required of the ‘new normal’.
In uncertain times, data-led decisions are critical
Whilst the solution may seem obvious, cutting costs and fostering transparency is often more complicated than . However, financial management tools for enterprise services are vital in enabling manufacturers to gather vital real-time operational, project and vendor cost data – in essence, to uncover the truth around IT costs and make smart financial decisions. These tools enable fact-based scenario planning and in turn, help ensure that innovation and digital strategies take centre-stage in optimising services and refining processes – ultimately leading to further long-term cost savings.
During the pandemic, supply chain challenges – including the stockpiling of food and the need for vital medical equipment and PPE – have highlighted just how essential manufacturing is to our country’s survival. Firms must therefore buffer themselves against further forthcoming uncertainties – and, rather than just battening down the hatches, prepare for future growth. Because, whilst investment may be the last thing on the agenda for manufacturing firms battling through currently stormy seas, on the agenda, it must be. In these extraordinary times, the benefits of data acquisition and management across the enterprise, and the application of that insight to all business decisions, cannot be overstated. Comprehensive, current and, above all, transparent data, along with decisions and operational pivots made in light of that understanding, can provide a vital lifeline for manufacturers and protect British businesses.
Siemens: Providing the First Industrial 5G Router
Across a number of industry sectors, there’s a growing need for both local wireless connectivity and remote access to machines and plants. In both of these cases, communication is, more often than not, over a long distance. Public wireless data networks can be used to enable this connectivity, both nationally and internationally, which makes the new 5G network mainframe an absolutely vital element of remote access and remote servicing solutions as we move into the interconnected age.
Siemens Enables 5G IIoT
The eagerly awaited Scalance MUM856-1, Siemens’ very first industrial 5G router, is officially available to organisations. The device has the ability to connect all local industrial applications to the public 5G, 4G (LTE), and 3G (UMTS) mobile wireless networks ─ allowing companies to embrace the long-awaited Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
The router can be used to remotely monitor and service plants, machines, as well as control elements and other industrial devices via a public 5G network ─ flexibly and with high data rates. Something that has been in incredibly high demand after being teased by the leading network providers for years.
Scalance MUM856-1 at a Glance
- Scalance MUM856-1 connects local industrial applications to public 5G, 4G, and 3G mobile wireless networks
- The router supports future-oriented applications such as remote access via public 5G networks or the connection of mobile devices such as automated guided vehicles in industry
- A robust version in IP65 housing for use outside the control cabinet
- Prototypes of Siemens 5G infrastructure for private networks already in use at several sites
“To ensure the powerful connection of Ethernet-based subnetworks and automation devices, the Scalance MUM856-1 supports Release 15 of the 5G standard. The device offers high bandwidths of up to 1000 Mbps for the downlink and up to 500 Mbps for the uplink – providing high data rates for data-intensive applications such as the remote implementation of firmware updates. Thanks to IPv6 support, the devices can also be implemented in modern communication networks.
Various security functions are included to monitor data traffic and protect against unauthorised access: for example, an integrated firewall and authentication of communication devices and encryption of data transmission via VPN. If there is no available 5G network, the device switches automatically to 4G or 3G networks. The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and autoconfiguration of the devices,” Siemens said.
Preparing for a 5G-oriented Future
Siemens has announced that the new router can also be integrated into private 5G networks. This means that the Scalance MUM856-1 is, essentially, future-proofed when it comes to 5G adaptability; it supports future-oriented applications, including ‘mobile robots in manufacturing, autonomous vehicles in logistics or augmented reality applications for service technicians.’
And, for use on sites where conditions are a little harsher, Siemens has given the router robust IP65 housing ─ it’s “dust tight”, waterproof, and immersion-proofed.
The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. “With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and auto-configuration of the devices,” Siemens added.