Manufacturing Plants: The New Normal

Manufacturers have always prioritized quality, efficiency, and productivity, relying on human capital to produce products that meet customer demand. Some innovative plants have invested in Industry 4.0 technology, including connecting CNC machine tools, industrial automation, 3D printing, and manufacturing analytics, but it has been far from ubiquitous. In the new normal, this must change. Managing through the recovery of COVID19 is making digital transformation mission-critical. Large and small companies must look to automation and data analytics to succeed in the ‘new manufacturing normal’ to ensure workforce safety, operational flexibility, and to keep factories running.

Challenges in the New Normal of Manufacturing

  • Highly dynamic shifts in demand and unexpected disruptions in the workforce, operations, and the supply chain make managing productivity difficult
  • Risks to employee safety requires new work procedures, social distancing, fewer workers on the floors, and new ways of working and managing.

Drive Workforce Productivity & Safety with Smart Manufacturing

Managing Through Disruptions in the Workforce and Operations

Today, some manufacturers see a surge in demand, while others are managing efficiency framed with lower demand. Factories see disruptions in the supply chain with suppliers, materials, and transportation. However, everyone seems to be managing workforce unpredictability. Daily worker temperature screenings may result in quarantines, so juggling schedules in real-time and capacity planning becomes pivotal to keep the factory running.

Manufacturing analytics provides real-time operational data for:

  • Enterprise manufacturing visibility to increase line of sight across the globe.
    • Monitor and manage production performance and increase flexibility with an understanding of capacity in terms of human resources and asset availability. Make decisions on where to manufacture products to meet demand and adjust production with insight into supply chain delays.
  • Insight to inform decision making for staffing, scheduling, and to enable lights out machining.
    Use a data-driven approach to:


    • Reassign employees to run an entire line or multiple machines for social distancing.
    • Stagger shifts and plan assets to operate without workers.
    • Respond to last-minute workforce shortages and to remain productive.

Keep your employees safe and productive

To protect employees, plants have implemented new policies for absenteeism, cleaning protocols, safe distancing strategies, and employee testing programs.

Manufacturing analytics and shop floor digital productivity solutions include:

  • Remote asset monitoring for insight into operations from anywhere. Don’t rely on ‘being on the floor’; operations leaders should use analytics to manage and control workforce performance, assets, and line efficiency remotely.
  • Advanced analytics, anomaly detection, and AI-driven alerts to understand root causes of problems and predict risk to the operation.
  • Customizable data visualizations for real-time insight into machine and operator performance against their goals to help them self manage their productivity.
  • Powerful ticketing system, designed specifically for manufacturing employees, enables workers to communicate production bottlenecks for quick, closed-loop problem solving without face to face interactions.
  • Dynamic, digital work instructions train employees on the job to operate assets and manual stations without human intervention.

Take a Simple, Cost-Effective Approach. Don’t Over-Engineer the Analytics Solution

The time is now to prepare for the ‘new manufacturing normal’. Delivering productivity, efficiency, and quality in the new normal will require advanced analytics to solve traditional problems, optimize assets, lean processes, and shorten the path to recovery at the lowest costs.

Companies that survive long term will invest in predictive analytics and manufacturing productivity tools to keep their employees safe and be responsive to the rapidly changing environment.