Automation, AI, connectivity: keys to addressing pandemic disruptions in manufacturing

Cisco Philippines gathered industry leaders to provide solutions to challenges in manufacturing.

Health measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 have heavily affected many industries, most especially manufacturing companies. They heavily rely on physical work to keep the factory floor afloat. But in order to adapt to the new normal, a shift toward digital is necessary.

Adapting to the new normal

In an online webinar series titled “Manufacturing in the New Normal: Moving Beyond the Disruption,” Cisco Philippines gathered innovative leaders to provide solutions to complicated challenges in the manufacturing industry.

One challenge felt, not just by the industry but by the whole country, is the lack of transportation services. For Microchip Philippines country Manager Greg Fisher and Allegro MicroSystems Philippines Inc., Asia IT Head Rhett Ramos, the inability of employees to reach their places of work due to restricted public transportation has caused business disruptions. Nevertheless, Ramos noted that government measures to ease the disruptions have been a great help.

As a top priority, however, health and safety measures in an highly physical workspace were the biggest challenge. But for businesses like Amkor Technology Philippines, Inc., the ability to manage costs and immediate pandemic response allowed them to continue business as usual.

“We continue to execute our digital transformation initiatives and I am ensuring that our I.T. infrastructure is stable and capable to support any new requirements,” said Amkor Senior Director and Head of IT Jonathan Mondero.

Shifting to digital

Of the numerous adjustments done by the companies, a few measures proved to be keys to transformation amid the pandemic: system integration, automation of services, and innovating supply chain management.

“Making changes on a factory floor is very common but it requires a lot of time,” said Cisco Philippines Manufacturing Industry Lead Carlos Rojas. “In the pandemic, you need to be agile and you can’t make mistakes. If you don’t have people looking to implement new processes and technologies pre-emptively, such adjustments will take more time and will be more challenging to implement remotely.”

“You have to look at ways to automate processes for greater connectivity from remote locations in a very sophisticated and speedy way, so that those changes that you make on production rounds are as easy as plugging a machine in and plugging it back,” he added.

Amkor Technology turned to full digitalization at the onset of the pandemic. “We designed the whole integrated and secured architecture for a hybrid workspace, and we developed and deployed it in just two days,” shared Mondero.

Meanwhile, for Asurion, these developments were a natural part of their business.

“Even before the pandemic situation, our Fort Bonifacio site already supports remote working, and our management team had the necessary technology platform and framework available then,” said Asurion IT Director Lito Espacio.

“Many platforms like digital currency and online transactions which have long been available are going to be appreciated further and will be part of the new norm. Opportunities like this will even continue to evolve in the supply chain businesses through the use of augmented or virtual reality. All the different branches in the supply chain including the end consumers will embrace this technology naturally.”

Despite the promising advances in the industry, experts acknowledged that not all companies and countries are capable of digital transformation right away. Cisco’s Rojas sees the world moving towards using AI in supply chain management and automation of network systems in connectivity as the future of remote management.

“Flexibility is the buzzword I see around the world. Creating spatial separation but still keeping people connected is possible with technology. Businesses should consider how they’ll manage their supply chain. Data is also very critical in the connection to the assets, to the machines, to the systems,” Rojas concluded.

To learn more about the recent webinar here.

Read more: Cisco launches UGNAYAN 2030 digital acceleration program for PH

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