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As COVID-19 continues its course, businesses who have started to reopen have had to significantly adapt their operations to adhere to social distancing and other safety concerns. Many companies are turning to automation and technology to remain productive during the current pandemic and to protect themselves from future disruptions.
There is no doubt that most workplaces will implement new policies and practices to keep employees and visitors safe. In the world of manufacturing, we might see early adoption of predicted trends take off.
OSHA and the CDC have released guides to help companies develop new best practices. Their recommendations include some basic measures where possible such as phasing workers back into operations or creating additional shifts to limit the number of workers on-site at a given time. Setting up operational standards like working six feet apart where possible is another recommendation. These recommendations simply are not possible for many operations in manufacturing facilities. So, where does this leave the industry? With the need for early and accelerated adoption into many manufacturing trends that started some time ago. Here are some trends that will gain attention as a result of the virus.
Automation and robots in the world of manufacturing are nothing new, but the rate of implementation will likely increase because of the coronavirus pandemic. Robots will continue to gradually usher new ways humans and machines collaborate. Replacing old assembly lines and repetitive low-skilled labor with automated technologies boosts efficiency and can save resources, but post-COVID, it can also help distance your employees to create a safer working environment.
The sky is the limit when thinking about augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) in manufacturing. For some time, AR and VR have been explored to help make processes more efficient, improve product development, or help service or maintain equipment. A global pandemic certainly challenges companies to dig deep into finding other ways to reach new efficiencies while keeping employees safe. Offering “hands-on” training or remote assistance and maintenance are two ways these technologies might be utilized in the coming months.
Many industry experts coined wearables as an identified trend for 2020. In recent years we’ve seen a shift of many industries incorporating handhelds into daily work. The next step from here is on-demand data and information that can be shared within an organization to make real-time decisions. Wearables could help keep distance between employees on shop floors, report temperatures, or identify high traffic hotspots. Identifying these potential harms will help management make more informed decisions and prevent a hazardous situation within the facility.
Whether jumping on some of these trends or implementing basic measures is top of mind for your company moving forward, we can help you. We are operational and our team is standing by to support your needs.