COVID-19 Impact on Predictive Maintenance in the Information and Communication Technology Industry
The pandemic began with its epicenter in China in 2019 and has been continuously spreading by then to all over the globe. So far, 216 countries and territories have been affected by COVID-19. The COVID-19 cases reached various countries that have strong dominance in the worldwide market and have adversely affected economic growth globally. The spread of coronavirus has led to severe disruption such as global recession. Many organizations are being forced to take stringent actions for their employees and staffs, as small and medium businesses are being shut down, and manufacturing and production facilities are being put on hold for a longer period of time. However, the demand for food and beverages witnessed huge growth, but this has also, increased the shortage of supply chain owing to the panic among people.
Similarly, the demand for the pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and healthcare industry also increased as new solutions and medicines are introduced for preventive measures. There has been disruption in the supply chain of many industries due to restrictions in logistics and closing of manufacturing facilities. In addition, the slowdowns in the economy have lowered the spending capability of individuals, and people are saving money for emergencies.
Predictive maintenance refers to the data-driven, pro-active maintenance methods to analyze the condition of equipment and help predict when maintenance should be performed. The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on the technological sector as well. The disruptions in the production and supply in the hardware sector have significantly impacted the developments in the IT industry. The pandemic has resulted in health threats for humans in the manufacturing sector which incurs severe disruptions and complex issues to industrial networks. The initial part of the pandemic witnessed the slowdown in the businesses providing solutions and services. But the latter part saw increasing investments in analytics, collaborative applications, security solutions, and AI by many players in the market to sketch out a sustainable way of carrying on business activities amidst the pandemic threat.
The pandemic has disrupted the industrial networks and manufacturing, including supply disruptions and demand-side shocks. Quarantines and health risks impacted the suppliers and global transportation, which affected the manufacturing sector.
For the year 2020, manufacturing, and production was affected in 938 of the Fortune 1000 companies in China due to the disruptions faced by the tier 1 and tier 2 suppliers. This has affected the abilities of many companies to ramp up production.
This created the need in the market to enhance manufacturing processes to make them robust and sustainable to the market anomalies. These factors increased the demand for analytics professionals, business intelligence professionals, and applications of technologies such as AI and ML for predictive maintenance to make the manufacturing system agile and increase the production capacity.
IMPACT ON DEMAND AND SUPPLY CHAIN AND LONG-TERM STRATEGIES ADOPTED BY MANUFACTURERS
Digital transformation has been the area of focus for a long time now for businesses. The COVID-19 pandemic has led many manufacturers and organizations to intensively invest in technologies across multiple business lines to sustain themselves in the disruptive market. For instance, a 2020 Deloitte Industry 4.0 survey states that out of the 361 executives surveyed across 11 countries, 94% report digital transformation as their organization’s top strategic initiative. With the easing regulations and life coming back to normalcy, the manufacturing sector is witnessing growing demand to ramp up production around the globe. Businesses are looking to maximizing throughout and increasing efficiency. Industries are increasingly adopting analytics to make manufacturing more resilient. Preventive maintenance is one of the important processes helping businesses to optimize efficiency. To meet the growing demands and to make up for losses, the industries are looking to produce in 9 months what they earlier did in 12 months. This has made it important to reduce downtimes in manufacturing plants, and the adoption of predictive maintenance is believed to play an important role in the direction.
For instance, according to an ITIF research report, manufacturing productivity increases by 10-25% with IoT applications for monitoring machine utilization and maintenance. The increasing adoption of this technology will produce up to USD 1.8 Trillion global economic value by 2025.
Industrial automation had been the focus of many manufacturers around the globe. The incorporation of IoT and technologies such as AI, Big data, and ML has been at the forefront for business owners and organizations to transform their business digitally. Manufacturers are gaining a strategic edge in the market in uncertain pandemic times, and are increasingly adopting predictive maintenance technologies to reduce the company’s maintenance costs, reduce unplanned outages, and extend machinery life by years.
For instance, according to a 2020 survey by Deloitte, factory equipment maintenance costs can be reduced by 40% using IIoT based predictive maintenance technologies. This will help generate an economic value of USD 630 billion annually by 2025. 55% of the businesses surveyed have already implemented pilot predictive maintenance projects.
The pandemic has forced employees to work from remote sites complying with social distancing norms. The manufacturers are intensively implementing IoT devices and digital transformation for providing the employees the ability to share and receive data and insights of the manufacturing floor in real-time to handle operations and monitor machine conditions. This has enabled agile decision-making, efficient operations, and avoiding unnecessary human presence on the site. The manufacturers are continuously developing new products, partnerships, collaborations for the predictive maintenance market.
The initial stages of the pandemic saw a disturbance in the global supply chain. Limited manufacturing capacity and congested transport routes disturbed the supply ecosystem and impacted the costs of the end products. The disturbance has also been due to the restrictions imposed on logistics by various governments which affect raw material supply. The trade war between the U.S. and China has put a strain on the supply chain of electronics in the market, which is an important raw material for the home automation product manufacturers.
In 2020, according to a survey by IPC, a trade organization dedicated to advocacy, education, and support for the electronics industry, around 69% of survey respondents had received warnings from their suppliers about shipment delays. The average delay between February to March 2020 was about three weeks.
The COVID-19 lockdown imposed by the government of the world had impacted the prices of predictive maintenance services. The increase in supply chain costs automatically increased the hardware cost around the world, in the beginning of the pandemic due to congested shipment routes and other factors. The lack of workforce and restriction on travel impacted the service sector and hence impacted the prices. The increased demand for the predictive maintenance in multiple sectors of the industry will impact the prices of the service.
The COVID-19 has not only attacked the health of human lives but has adversely affected the economy globally. There is a recession worldwide, and various industries have been affected due to it. Many manufacturing industries are being temporarily closed, and workers are being advised to work from home. Organizations and enterprises had to make a difficult decision in regards to staff, which are often unavoidable if businesses need to reduce costs quickly. Machine maintenance became harder in the manufacturing sector due to lack of staff in the pandemic, travel restrictions, and the shift to working from home as a standard procedure, making it difficult to have routine inspections and on-site maintenance. This forced the organizations to move towards technologies such as predictive maintenance and develop a more resilient manufacturing unit. The focus was diverted majorly towards remote maintenance, manufacturing cost efficiency, and preventing unplanned downtime. This boosted the adoption of preventive maintenance practices in industries.
For instance, according to the UpKeep 2021 report, maintenance and reliability teams have remained financially stable during the COVID-19 period. Of all the maintenance teams surveyed, 66% say their budget is either staying the same or increasing in 2021.