According to Plato, “necessity is the mother of invention”. The news proves him right once again: it took a pandemic to force companies to rethink their operating methods! Many of the changes made were certainly in line with trends that were already emerging, but the transition processes have been accelerated to maintain competitiveness in a transformed world.
This was particularly the case in the logistics sector. As part of the automation and digitization of Industry 4.0, a large number of new production processes had already been adopted. However, more marginalized activities were not yet taking advantage of the latest innovations.
Break between operations and information
The pandemic has precipitated fluctuations in supply and demand, forcing businesses to transform faster. Transparency and real-time information are essential not only at the heart of the company, but also at all levels of the supply chain. Without this transparency, being competitive and efficient in today’s world becomes impossible.
Currently, there are still disruptions in the transmission of information at the ends of the logistics chain. For example, a manufacturer who receives parts from a supplier must sort them, store them, and sometimes transfer them to a production site. These operations are always labor intensive. The entry of information into a digital system, if the company has such a tool, is generally only carried out after the operations of receiving, sorting and storing the parts. This inevitably gives rise to errors and disruptions between operations and information.
From production to shelving
At the other end of the supply chain, automation and greater transparency also deliver benefits for businesses. In the retail sector, for example, price management software and electronic shelf labeling significantly reduce the workload of employees, improve the accuracy of information and may even help increase sales.
In addition, existing technologies, such as security cameras, are now being used for new purposes. Thanks to artificial intelligence and machine learning, camera users can have new smart applications. This ranges from analyzing customer needs and preferences – in order to offer them marketing offers, for example – to respecting social distancing in the workplace, for example.
The necessary cohesion between technologies and human resources
Technology is not the only variable in the equation. The implementation of innovative and promising solutions requires a good knowledge of the existing processes. As such, employees have an important role to play: they must get involved and want changes to see the light of day. The cohesion between human work and technologies is a source of innovation. Thus, the automatic updating of price tags on the shelves allows employees to devote more time to customers and increase sales. The advantages of the solution then take on their full meaning.
In addition, companies and the new technology sector must constantly gain agility. For the former, it is a question of adapting better to the changes taking place in society and to new consumer behavior. In the tech sector, it is the organizational methods that are at stake. Society and businesses change so quickly that a technology company that acts alone cannot keep pace. Tech companies must collaborate and integrate solutions from an open architecture to develop their ideas as quickly as possible and make them available to everyone.
The world is struggling to keep turning despite the upheavals underway, and companies are unlikely to revert to their old ways. Transformations will continue to occur at a rapid pace. Technology providers and their customers will need to work hand in hand to innovate and deploy effective technology solutions for the benefit of society. We can no longer work individually. Technologies will need to be increasingly open, as solution providers combine and integrate the best available technologies to deliver efficient systems to every business. The current transformations are exciting and we can look forward to contributing to them.