As factories shutdown across the world, manufacturers should use this opportunity to work on their digital transformation strategy

With the global semiconductor shortage impacting the automotive sector, vehicle makers and their suppliers across the globe have had to significantly reduce production or temporarily close down factories due to the impact of the shortage. InfinityQS believes that manufacturers need to effectively capitalise on this rare downtime opportunity to focus on shop floor digital transformation initiatives which have previously proved challenging due to potential production disruption, workforce training scheduling and scarce resource availability.

As the automotive manufacturing sector enters a phase of caution and uncertainty, operations executives and production leaders must think more innovatively about how to optimise production, reduce costs and maximise the use of available resources. Re-evaluating legacy systems and processes which are outdated is imperative, and a way for manufacturers to remain more competitive and resilient in the future.

Jason Chester, Director of Global Channel Programs at InfinityQS said: “For those automotive manufacturers and their suppliers who have had to reduce production or shut down temporarily, they will struggle to find a time better than now to seize the opportunity to work on their digital transformation initiatives. Doing so will provide new technological innovations that will be invaluable for manufacturers trying to navigate unpredictable and unstable markets. Although we have seen unprecedented disruption to global supply chains, manufacturers need to effectively adapt their busines models and prioritise digital transformation initiatives to overcome these challenges.

“Digitalisation for example, is a great way for manufacturers to increase real-time visibility into their operations as a it can provide important insights into each stage of the production process. These valuable insights can then be leveraged to fuel performance improvements, continue improvement efforts and to help make more informed and tactical decisions to secure long-term resilience and growth.”

Often many challenges to digital transformation lie in the implementation and cultural changes, as well changes to work practices that have become embedded over many years. Therefore, addressing the time, cultural and people-centric barriers and concerns can be a critical, but often overlooked, aspect of successful digital transformation.

Chester continued: “The manufacturing environment requires consistency for production to flow smoothly and if this is prevented the consequences for output can be severe. This is a key reason why some business leaders are nervous to give the green light to digital transformation initiatives. The time it takes to implement all the new technology, then teach the employees how to effectively use it, and change the workplace culture around it takes patience. However, with factory output now reduced because of the semiconductor shortage, the technology can be implemented and taught to workers in the right way without it being rushed. It’s a golden opportunity that rarely comes along.”

Chester concluded: “The long history of manufacturing is filled with periods of disruption and innovation. Now we’re in the midst of the latest massive shift, and it’s time for manufacturers large and small to make the investments necessary to thrive in the future. Ultimately investments in digital transformation should come down to putting real-time data and insights into the hands of those who can leverage them for effective decision making, from wherever they are. Organisations that do so will be able to solve (and even prevent) problems, reduce costs, best utilise resources, optimise operations, and keep producing top-quality products—even during times of crisis.”