In June, Cisco returned to the global manufacturing show at Hannover Messe. We showed 100,000+ attendees how Cisco and its partners are using digital transformation to help our customers deliver operational efficiency, security resiliency, and sustainability in manufacturing.  I was honored to share some of these stories on stage at Hannover Messe. As we gear up for autumn, I am pleased to share these stories here.

Industrie 4.0 and Digital Transformation Allowed Manufacturers to Overcome Challenges During the Pandemic

The manufacturing industry is the economic engine in the world’s leading industrial economies, accounting for nearly 16% of global GDP.

For over a decade, manufacturing leaders and technology partners like Cisco have been working to accelerate industrie 4.0 and digital transformation strategies to deliver business outcomes: operational efficiency, reduced unscheduled downtime, security resiliency, and environmental monitoring and sustainability.

While the business case for investment in digital transformation is compelling, of course, companies need to balance their capital investment decisions each year.

Necessity as the mother of Investment!

Fast forward to March of 2020 and the declaration of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

As countries around the world locked down overnight, global manufacturing output fell by 6% in the first quarter of 2020, and 3.6% over the full year.

Even where the manufacturing industry was declared to be an essential service, manufacturers had to suspend or scale back operations throughout the pandemic to accommodate employee outbreaks, physical distancing on the plant floor, remote work, and disruptions in public transportation and supply chain.

Manufacturing companies needed to shift quickly to allow employees working from home to remotely operate and manage their systems. They needed to connect with new suppliers. And they needed to ensure these connections were secure.

As a result, like in many industries, manufacturers increased their investment in digital transformation almost overnight.

In part due to these investments, factories were able to continue to operate, employees were able to work safely and, in many cases, remotely, and exposure to COVID19 was mitigated.

In fact, data from IMD World Competitiveness Center shows us a K-shaped recovery, where digitally savvy companies recovered faster than other organizations since the economic downturn in March of 2020.

It might be said that digital transformation presented a silver lining in the dark cloud of the pandemic.

The question remains: How is this driving long term change?

Over the next three blogs, I will examine some of these changes, starting with how the shift to hybrid work is helping manufacturers build a bridge to improved productivity and operational efficiency!

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Sean Caragata

Director, Sales Business Development

Industrial and Infrastructure Group