The core of the European industry is still running at full speed, data shows.
The restart of that part of the economy which has not fully switched to teleworking is dominating the headlines. Several scenarios to ramp-up activities are considered.
Governments are trying to determine what companies are given priority and what measures must be taken to ensure that such a restart proceeds safely. This means endless days and nights of work for domain specialists and politicians, but specific task forces were also set up within the companies themselves to ensure the restart will be as smooth as possible.
Digital tools will also play an essential role in re-igniting or re-accelerating the manufacturing industry.
But not all has to start from zero!
"Data shows us that the majority of primary production companies are still running at full speed today," says Yves Van Ingelgem, CEO of Zensor. In companies that started digitization before the Covid-19 crisis, the critical production installations are monitored via a specific monitoring platform that continuously collects data and translates it via smart algorithms into numbers that quantify their efficiency and health status. This approach allows them to continuously and remotely monitor whether everything is still running smoothly and will receive a warning when a machine comes to a standstill.
The data on the Zensor platform was used to analyze the degree of utilization of a number of installations spread over 3 countries (Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands) and over 3 basic sectors (metal, minerals and glass). This comparison generated very interesting insights. It turned out that their occupancy, determined by counting the number of operating hours at full load, hardly changed! The study compared data from early February this year to the situation in early April.
"The number of hours per day that the critical installation was used was at best 4.1% higher than in February. The largest measured decrease was 1.2% compared to February” says Van Ingelgem.
This shows that the production of primary goods continues to run at full speed, which is very good news: the core of the economy has not yet been affected.
Conversations with production managers and maintenance specialists allows us to paint a more complete picture. “The companies we contacted do everything in their power to remain fully operational in a safe manner. They switched quickly to a hybrid working model: the people essential for the production work in a turn role on the site, all support functions are performed remotely”, Van Ingelgem said.
Given that the end of the pandemic is not expected any time soon, companies will have to ensure that they can remain operational for a long time with a reduced occupancy on site. The businesses whose data were included in the study all had already implemented a smart approach. By remote monitoring, they receive early notification of an upcoming breakdown or standstill, but also get the necessary context about what exactly is going on. At that time, a maintenance team can be sent on site who already knows what to do and who performs the necessary repairs. It is therefore no longer necessary to have a team permanently on location and the intervention is also short-lived, because the situation was already estimated remotely.
In this way, the companies from these sectors often perceived as not very advanced, set a good example: by smartly following up the production installations, the number of people required for a minimum occupation of a company can be markedly reduced. This makes it easier to apply the best safety practices to prevent the virus from spreading. By applying the principles of the tools currently deemed indispensable for working remotely, such as Zoom and Teams, not only for the employees, but also for production installations, the exit from the lock down will be a bit smoother and safer. In this way, technology will once again contribute to ensure a prosperous future for the European economy.