The manufacturing industry has always been at the forefront of innovation. The industry is already leveraging a wide range of new and disruptive technologies such as AI, IoT and automation, among others, to make smoother manufacturing processes and drive efficiency eventually. However, in the onset of COVID-19, all industries across the world have deeply impacted, especially manufacturing, causing uncertainties and delay in operations.
The outbreak has not only delayed manufacturing operations, but also disrupted operational, social and financial consequences. This is forcing manufacturers to reconsider risk management and contingency plans, workforce safety protocols, and manufacturing operations as well as to explore new approaches of working opportunities in the chorus. This has also led them to adapt to data-driven business and leverage digital technologies to address the challenges induced by the pandemic.
To this development, China is already leading in terms of spending on AI in manufacturing. According to a Deloitte report, the market of AI in the manufacturing sector in China is projected to exceed US$2 billion by 2025, growing by 40 percent since 2019.
AI has the potential in predictive maintenance in manufacturing, identifying and reporting a fault in parts, machines, or manufacturing process and reporting them in real-time. The technology can also assist in the optimization of supply chain by envisioning demand and returns. Currently, in the face of an adverse situation, manufacturing companies are actively turning to Industry 4.0 technologies more than ever, accelerating the speed of leveraging artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation and seeing these as potential solutions in order to thwart challenges of the crisis.
As the COVID-19 outbreak has exposed the vulnerabilities in supply chain networks, the use of blockchain has the potential to help manufacturers recognize the point of disruption. It connects all stakeholders in the network, enabling them to prepare for any future challenges. In addition, manufacturers are also shifting their focus to address opportunities for hypergrowth, and transitioning and repurposing legacy lines to make new products to support the community in the time of crisis.
The governments all over the world are already taking substantial steps to prevent COVID-19 pandemic. Japan, for instance, has set an economic stimulus package of US$2.2 billion to help its manufacturers shift production out of China. Additionally, the Indian cabinet has also announced a production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme with an allocation of over INR 40,000 crore for the electronics sector.
Companies like Blue Star, TVS Motor Company, JK Tyre & Industries and Asian Paints are some of those forward-looking businesses that are already using AI-powered solutions and analytics platforms in their manufacturing units in India.
During the crisis, businesses that can quickly adapt to change can emerge as leaders. Hence, manufacturers must think to leverage AI-enabled solutions that can work 24/7 and assist in driving operational efficiency. In this way, making use of IoT will be effective as it can glean data from multiple machines to deliver real-time data that will enhance performance and reduce workload.