Manufacturers to turn to predictive technology following 2020

03 December 2020 Consultancy.uk

The last 12 months have been a major learning experience for the manufacturing industry, with the coronavirus pandemic and continued uncertainty surrounding the Brexit process putting up a number of major roadblocks for the sector. According to Rafi Billurcu, Head of Manufacturing at Infosys Consulting, the series of disruptive events will likely see firms investing in predictive AI to better prepare for future crises.

Issuing a number of predictions for manufacturers in 2021, Infosys Consulting  Partner Rafi Billurcu stated that Brexit will likely act as a roadblock for manufacturers into next year, “even if a deal is reached.” The majority of the UK’s export markets are based in the European Union, but uncertainty relating to export regulations mean that many of the continent’s leading economies – including France and Germany – are prioritising internal demand ahead of UK orders, something Billurcu said could be an on-going trend.

“Deal or no deal, we expect to see manufacturers struggle to drive efficiencies as a result of supply chain issues caused by shipping delays and lack of easy access to raw materials or intermediary goods,” he explained.

Manufacturers to turn to predictive technology following 2020

At the same time as Brexit has continued to place pressure on manufacturers, the Covid-19 pandemic has also shunted the sector into uncertainty, and prevented a number of key developments from accelerating in 2020. Most notably, the pandemic has delayed the roll out of 5G internet, something key to the development of Industry 4.0. From big data analytics to connected devices, 5G in particular will provide the key building block to next-generation factories, providing the ultra-reliable low latency connectivity on which Industry 4.0 depends.

Billurcu commented that in 2021, things should be “speeding up again” as the industry tries to get back to pre-Covid levels, however, to mitigate the impact of further crises, manufacturers will be considering new ways of planning for disruption. He suggested that to mitigate the impact of further “black swan” events, leaders should consider predictive tools such as AI, automation and blockchain to speed up time to market and reduce costs caused by slow, rigid and outdated IT ecosystems. 

“These digital tools will undoubtedly play a big role in 2021, allowing manufacturers to drive operational efficiencies at scale, and help them weather the dual-sided storm of Brexit and Covid-19,” Billurcu concluded. “A key lesson from the coronavirus crisis is to think of risk as inevitable… The use of AI tools will help bring automated insights in a fraction of a second – insights like how to manage the logistics network, how to re-route the fleet, and how to make a delivery happen. There will also be greater uptake in other digital technologies like 3D printing and blockchain, as organisations look to better prepare themselves in anticipation of future, similar black swan events.”