The Record - Issue 18: Autumn 2020

143  MANU FAC TUR I NG & R E SOUR C E S Manufacturers are harnessing digital technology to build new value in the post-Covid-19 marketplace. We asked selected Microsoft partners how they are enabling manufacturing firms to innovate for sustainable success in an uncertain world Partner perspectives “Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, manufacturers were heavily engaged with digital transformation initiatives. The pandemic has amplified the benefits for those that scaled their transformation, but most of these got stuck in pilot purgatory. In the face of the pandemic, companies are also often dealing with high volatility in demand, limited access to facilities for critical operations, and an unparalleled focus on workforce health and safety. PTC is helping to address these shifting needs by accelerating the time to value for digital transformation initiatives. Built on top of Microsoft Azure, PTC and Rockwell Automation introduced Factory Insights as a Service in July. In as little as three months, companies can leverage this SaaS-based offering to rapidly build a digital transformation foundation: providing performance insights across plants, assets and the workforce.” Nicholas Leeder Vice president of digital transformation solutions at PTC “Hands-free remote collaboration through fully rugged enterprise wearables is moving from a nicety to a necessity in manufacturing. Deploying Microsoft Teams on our hands-free HMT-1 and HMT-1Z1 wearable computers puts eyes in the factory, despite continued travel restrictions. This real-time collaboration keeps operations running smoothly, empowers the first line worker, and has been part of the solution to deliver essential supplies like food, personal protective equipment and life-saving pharmaceuticals. As the CEO of Microsoft Satya Nadella recently said: ‘We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.’ We have seen evidence of this in every industry, including manufacturing.” Sanjay Jhawar President and co-founder at RealWear insights to make faster, more informed decisions for improving their buildings’ performance and carbon footprints. “Digital twins allow manufacturers to be more agile, whether they are creating a twin to model how to reconfigure their shop floor to enable social distancing, a manufacturing process simulation model powered by AI, or other twins to model the relationship and interactions between peo- ple, places devices and more,” says Sircar. While these technologies are great ena- blers, Microsoft recognises that successful transformation depends on the people using them. Its commitment to support manufac- turers includes a series of freely available expert guides to help develop the skills and culture they need, such as how to quickly streamline operations, adapt processes and build new workflows using low-code tools; how to enable an agile supply chain with the end-to-end operational visibility to adapt quickly to disruptions; and the best ways to boost employee productivity by empower- ing collaboration and remote teamwork. Nor has the company let restrictions like social distancing stand in the way of offer- ing support. “In June, we hosted our inau- gural digital manufacturing summit which provided an opportunity to come together, learn, grow and share,” says Sircar. “We discussed how digital transformation pri- orities need to adapt in these challenging times to navigate the global reality as it is now, and to reimagine the new normal for intelligent manufacturing. We’re publish- ing the keynote sessions from the event online, and we’ll be making some of the customer and partner roundtables availa- ble on-demand in September.” Ultimately, says Sircar, supporting a sus- tainable future is a collective effort involv- ing people, technology and the expertise that combines them to create true trans- formation. “Microsoft and our hundreds of thousands of partners are lighting up solutions for a diverse range of manufac- turing customers to eliminate waste and engineer better outcomes for all of their stakeholders,” he says. “Together, we’re enabling them to design for sustainability throughout the end-to-end value chain and lifecycle of their products and services.”