As the current pandemic continues, we see the effects of COVID-19 on productivity and costs in the manufacturing sector. Mandatory lockdowns have caused major disruptions with assembly lines forced to curtail or halt operations due to a lack of workforce and parts. Protecting employee health has become an even greater concern during the outbreak.
However, there is a silver lining. Manufacturers can adapt to the changes, following steps to ensure faster recovery when conditions improve.
Importance of cloud and 3D printing prospects
The pandemic has highlighted the importance of technology for business continuity. Digital technology has helped create a sense of normalcy via online collaboration.
Research indicates that companies that are digitally mature have higher resilience especially in areas like employee engagement and supply chain operations. The manufacturers that have moved critical business applications to the cloud are enjoying a smoother functioning as employees can access what they need from the comfort of their own homes. Enterprises that have invested in advanced analytics have adapted to the changes far better.
Not only did the pandemic change the norms for remote working, it is also accelerated the move toward digital manufacturing. 3D printing technologies will now be pursued more aggressively given that additional use cases have emerged. 3D printing technology has proven to be an added value in the manufacturing sector as it allows for the rapid conversion of designs to finished products, even for challenging designs.
What is important to note is that manufacturers should hurry in moving their systems and data to the cloud if they haven’t already done so. Cloud-based solutions allow businesses to scale costs to revenues and hit a tighter demand-supply agility.
Maintaining employee motivation
No matter the advances made in technology, ultimately, its humans who make the decisions and perform the work. The current pandemic has created personal health concerns – a never seen before spike in unemployment – and anxiety regarding the future. To try and keep employees motivated, several organizations announced a 90-day window of no layoffs, using this period as an opportunity to reskill their employees for post-pandemic needs.
Large enterprises must aim to protect health and the employment of their employees. They can do so by using automation to decrease risk infection and to improve their operations. With more people working remotely, and as the flow moves towards digital as a primary mode of interaction and transaction, it has become imperative to foster an operating environment that ensures workforce health and productivity. This will also be critical to attract and retain the best employees as conditions improve.
The need for a digital nerve center
The pandemic has ignited a heightened awareness for more efficient analysis and response.
This detect, analyze, respond framework is essential for an enterprise to exist and thrive. A suggestion would be to establish a nerve center for the organization that that can collect data from multiple types of equipment to help form clear recommendations later. When the crisis fades, this nerve center concept will be extended to become the digital brain for the entire enterprise.
The pandemic has highlighted the importance of supply chain management and remote work, it also gives players in the manufacturing sector new meaning and perspective on how to run their operations.
High-tech mobile labs hitting the streets of China
A team of researchers from Tsinghua University in affiliation with CapitalBio, have developed high-tech mobile labs equipped with advanced medical and communication technologies. The latest innovation will be hitting the streets of South China’s Zhuhai with orders coming in from Shenyang and Qingdao.
Among the worst aspects of testing – besides having a 6-inch swab in one’s nasal – is getting there and waiting in line for a turn. For many, the fear of driving though or sitting in what may seem to be a virus hotspot, may be enough to discourage people from opting for a test.
The biggest hurdle is that all those samples must later be taken in bulk to adequately equipped testing labs, usually far away from the testing facilities. Thus, the process is made riskier and result processing made less efficient, which may also prolong the risk of transmission.
“It realizes the point-of-care rapid testing and is particularly useful for frontier ports, communities and villages,” said Lead Researcher Cheng Jing, also a professor at Tsinghua University.
A mobile lab would solve both of these problems, with test results obtained within 45 minutes, and messaged to people’s phone devices. According to Cheng, the high-tech mobile labs are equipped with sampling robots, automatic microfluidic chip analyzers, virus deactivators and even a 5G communication system for fast and effective reporting.
The lab is capable of operating to full effect with only 3 staff members including the driver. Cheng added that employees need only go through a 2-hour training program to effectively operate the entire system.
“One person is responsible for operating the sampling robots”, said Liangbin Pan, Vice President and CTO at CapitalBio, “while the other is tasked with adding inactivated samples into detection chips and reading the test results on the computer.”
High-tech mobile labs seem like an inevitable development in these challenging times. The ability to use technology to bypass physical hurdles and increase efficiency is a trademark of Chinese innovators, as we’ve seen throughout the pandemic.
Geographic information systems: advancing technology for COVID-19 response
With technology leaping to the forefront of the battle against the pandemic, Inside Telecom examines GIS technology, one of the most recent developments to help mitigate the spread of the virus.
Geographic information systems, or more commonly known as GIS technology, combines location with real time or static data. In turn, the technology analyzes, manages, collects and shares data to achieve what is known as location intelligence.
Deeply rooted in the science of geography, GIS technology incorporates several types of data. It has the ability to utilize large data sets from various sources and represent them meaningfully in real time dashboards, analytical tools, and application.
Visualizations can be produced immediately, which shed light and give insights into critical cases. Geographic information systems can be used for several problems and has the potential to better handle complex situations with a purpose of enabling smarter decision making.
Public Health Agencies and governments have started to use GIS technology in addressing COVID-19 issues. On a global level, geographic information system technology is being used to show the spread of the virus over time and across the world. It is also being applied in contact tracking and tracing.
GIS technology can also forecast health needs and spikes, and can support the delivery of vital PPE and can facilitate the delivery of medicine to the elderly population. In addition, mapping data is being implemented to provide local authorities with key information. It can tailor data and general reports regarding local demographic, health, and economic health statistics.
Government use of geographic information system technology has additional communication purposes. By sharing a situation assessment through maps, apps and dashboards the public can aid in locating more cases. Local governments are also producing story maps that keep citizens up to date with all that’s going on around them.
GIS technology is also used to communicate emergency information about public notices, school closures, and other pandemic related measures.
The latest COVID-19 information hub
The World Health Organization and the nonprofit administration of Wikipedia have announced their commitment towards making critical COVID-19 information accessible to everyone.
The latest collaboration between the two organizations will ensure equitable, free, and available information amidst the ongoing pandemic. The information will be available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license. This allows any outside organization to freely share the COVID-19 information on their own platforms, further spreading essential knowledge.
“Access to information is essential to healthy communities and should be treated as such,” said CEO at the Wikimedia Foundation, Katherine Maher. “This becomes even more clear in times of global health crises when information can have life-changing consequences. All institutions, from governments to international health agencies, scientific bodies to Wikipedia, must do our part to ensure everyone has equitable and trusted access to knowledge about public health, regardless of where you live or the language you speak.”
In addition, people can also access Wikimedia Commons digital multimedia library, containing videos, infographics, and other public health-related content. Now, Wikipedia’s 250,000 independent editors and volunteers can be used to push more extensive Covid-19 information. There are currently over five thousand virus-related articles, with many Wiki volunteers able to translate the content into numerous languages.
Wikipedia and WHO teams have been busy tackling and fending off misinformation, which has caused significant damage over the past few months. Users can now access the WHO myth busters’ infographic series.
As one of the most viewed sources on the internet and around the globe, Wikipedia has the power to hold its COVID-19 information up high for ‘those in the back’, so to speak. Coupled with the reach, resources, and expertise of the WHO, this collaboration could make a significant difference in protecting the vulnerable in the coming years.
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