NEVER BEFORE HAS A PANDEMIC AFFECTED economies and collapsed businesses so badly as Covid-19. There are several channels through which the outbreak has affected various parts of the economy, and the disruption of supply chains is the major one. Unemployment is on the rise, along with a slowdown in the manufacturing and services industries. Workers are back at their home in faraway places, thereby leaving the coming harvest in uncertainty. Lack of orders may eventually lead to massive trade contraction. Besides, disrupted air travel, collapse of the tourism industry, contraction of outdoor entertainment industries, rise in bankruptcy and NPAs, even though these are short-term effects, these shocks can spill over to other sectors and economies via trade and production linkages.
For the Indian manufacturing sector, COVID-19 crisis presents a watershed moment. As conversations around local production gain steam with the call for “Atamanirbhar Bharat” (a self-sufficient India), companies are looking to ‘think global, act local’ in a bid to push for resilient supply chains and sustainable businesses. As social distancing becomes a norm, the companies will need to reconsider raw materials sourcing, supply chain optimisation, floor management strategy, manufacturing cycles, transportation of raw, part, finished goods along with workforce welfare.
Nikhil Kumar, country head, India, HERE Technologies, says, “In the aftermath of the pandemic, one of the critical lessons learnt is the need to accelerate the ‘digital-first’ approach. Leveraging connected technologies such as IoT (Internet of things) and cloud computing in the supply chain to transform every touch point into a sensor thereby providing real-time business insights as well as addressing concerns (even before they arise) is now a must-have. Something that could help the manufacturers develop a better understanding of how the systems work or why they fail in addition to providing valuable insights to make informed, on-the-go decisions related to demand forecast and products the customers want.”
At the heart of the entire manufacturing operations of an organization, however, sits rich and intelligent equation of ‘location’ that can help tremendously to improve the efficiency and safety of the entire resource structure of an organization. Real-time, precise and detailed insights into the ‘where’ component of any step in the process can allow manufacturers to locate and track the movement of any connected object or people (indoors or outdoors) with an unprecedented level of precision. This can contribute in enhancing and optimising production output, last-mile delivery, operational efficiency as well as rebuilding resilient & sustainable supply chains worldwide. Location technologies such as geofences, routing algorithms, API trackers and digital indoor maps are today opening up exciting opportunities that can, in fact, enable safe operation of autonomous guide vehicles (AGVs) such as forklifts and inventory carts. Amit Kumar Alsisaria, co-founder & MD, Polestar Solutions & Services India, says, “All businesses across the globe are facing unprecedented levels of uncertainty, and it has become extremely difficult for them to keep their financial wheels running smoothly. Indian businesses have to work on multiple fronts to be able to ride through the storm. Firstly, they need to design an agile and adaptive supply chain to help react to changing demand and supply scenarios better. This will help companies maintain their customer service without incurring high costs.”
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