COVID-19 Drives Digitization Of Operational Excellence Initiatives At Industrial Firms
According to the Verdantix annual survey of 259 managers within operations, maintenance, engineering and process safety roles, 44% noted that they are accelerating digitization programmes across multiple areas following COVID-19 and the recession and 36% reported making new targeted digital investments.
Many businesses have treated the pandemic as an opportunity to modernize processes through expedited digitization programs. Firms left exposed due to lockdowns, travel restrictions and social distancing measures have integrated promising digital technologies within previously analogue processes. Technologies including mobile apps for inspections and augmented reality solutions for remote assistance such as Prometheus Group’s mobile EAM software or CARE4D’s augmented reality solution, Telepresenz, have been instrumental in the continuation of worker activities. Fugro, a Dutch geo-data specialist, recently incorporated RealWear’s HMT-1 line throughout its fleet and Siemens selected Librestream’s Onsight augmented reality platform to field service workers and external contractors in its power and energy installations. Drones and robotics received a boost in investment during the pandemic as firms searched for non-human alternatives to perform tasks such as inspections and data collection. Drone investment included $45 million in a Series B funding round by Percepto, an industrial drone manufacturer. In robotics, Aker BP deployed Spot, Boston Dynamic’s robotic dog powered by Cognite Data Fusion at its Skarv installation for autonomous inspections.
With virus mutations and logistical issues with vaccine rollouts keeping COVID-19 challenges front of mind, digitization efforts within operational excellence programs will continue to accelerate. However, only a portion of technologies and solutions which gained traction during the pandemic will maintain momentum beyond it. Solutions which service use cases such as contact tracing will offer limited utility to firms when COVID-19 outbreaks are less frequent, while technologies for remote working such as industrial wearables will provide key functionality to firms across industry regardless of a pandemic situation.
For more information and research, visit the Verdantix website.