Google Cloud: UK manufacturing, operating in the new normal
The UK manufacturing industry has shown the first signs of recovery since the initial disruption caused by Covid-19, after a survey showed that factory output had declined at a slower pace in May than it had in April.
The monthly industry snapshot from indicated that the downturn in the manufacturing sector eased last month due to lockdown measures gradually being lifted. Prior to this, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the steps taken to mitigate the spread of the disease caused the steepest decline in output, new orders and employment in the survey’s history. Public lockdowns, company shutdowns and social distancing measures all presented significant challenges for the industry.
Pockets of growth were seen as manufacturers who traditionally haven’t served the medical industry responded directly to the increasing pressure on the health system and associated shortage of critical care equipment such as ventilators and personal protective equipment (PPE). And in certain circumstances, consumer and commercial electronics device manufacturers were able to provide key components from their inventory to medical device manufacturers.
Despite the first signs of recovery being positive, the industry still faces a number of challenges that may take longer to solve than first expected. As manufacturing companies plan for the longer term, it will be critical for them to adapt in a way that both strengthens operations and builds business resilience.
Accelerating digital transformation in a changed world
Digital transformation is a concept that has been around for years. Whilst manufacturers have been utilising automation and robotics for a long time, following Covid-19, the industry acknowledges the need to fine tune a long-term digital roadmap to improve foresight and agility, especially when it’s been difficult to predict demand and supply.
It’s no longer enough to rely solely on historical data. Enterprises must put their data to work at very high granularity to improve foresight into different factors that affect both demand and supply. These companies should leverage a combination of both internal data and external influencing variables to improve forecast accuracy and inventory turns, all to optimise their operations in real-time.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) – and utilising data – is central to this solution. Manufacturing benefits from experiential learning that uses knowledge to automate processes. By recording what works or doesn’t work, manufacturers can easily use a digital-first approach. Additionally, AI can optimise manufacturing by applying knowledge from automated processes, or from interpreting huge datasets. By removing the guesswork and predicting disruptions from externally sourced data, (such as weather, traffic, transportation cost, and competitive and raw material pricing), AI can help operational teams make informed decisions.
The new paradigm that the manufacturing industry needs to adapt to has brought into plainsight the importance of digital technologies and platforms to stay operational. But it’s no longer only data insights that manufacturers gain from digitalising and adopting emerging technologies. Health and safety, communication and collaboration, minimising human touch, and ensuring business continuity have become critical considerations, too.
In the short-term, another consideration is how to keep businesses running in an environment of reduced worker capacity and increased worker safety requirements. Some companies, such as Google Cloud, are developing easy-to-use solutions based on interoperability, analytics and machine vision, which is an engineering-based system using existing technologies to mechanically 'see' steps along a production line. These solutions help customers to remotely monitor and manage their operational technology, mitigate risk of health-related absenteeism, ensure worker safety and reduce the amount of manual labor needs in a factory, particularly for quality control processes and procedures.Manufacturers can also further leverage these AI-based tools to enhance worker capabilities and drive greater optimisation both now and in the longer-term.
Driving smarter productivity in new ways of working
The industry’s “recovery mode” will rely heavily on how well it overcomes the challenge of operating efficiently with social distancing measures in place and without any certainty around how long public health measures will continue. Now more than ever, it’s essential that manufacturing organisations provide employees with the right tools to foster collaboration amongst a distributed workforce, particularly when there may be skeleton crews at factories and more people working from home.
Organisations also need to consider communication and collaboration between different time zones, ensuring that employees can easily and quickly access company files and participate in virtual team meetings. Employees need to effectively communicate – whether that’s through a live stream for the whole workforce, supporting an interactive team meeting for a department or facilitating urgent one-to-one or team communications. Most importantly, it’s not only about having the foundation to manage, but it’s about using technology that will drive smarter productivity.
The ‘new normal’ will be one of the toughest recovery environments many manufacturers will ever have to face, lined with changes to working environments, uncertainty about how long the pandemic will continue for or what demand will look like in the next recession. While a number of challenges threaten to derail the industry’s rebound, leveraging data intelligence, advancing technologies and the industry’s learned experience from Covid-19 will give the manufacturing sector the best chance of overcoming the barriers that lie ahead.
NetNumber: Time for a cloud-native transformation
NetNumber is accelerating the transition in the telecom industry to 5G as it starts a shift to cloud-native architecture to address the fast-paced demands of global subscribers and businesses.
NetNumber is offering the industry’s first cloud-native platform designed to ensure InterGENerational™ network performance addresses both the legacy and next-generation requirements of telecom networks.
“NetNumber has developed the industry’s most robust cloud-native, InterGENerational platform that addresses both the legacy and 5G requirements of telcos,” said Matt Rosenberg, Chief Revenue Officer of NetNumber.
The platform provides vertical and horizontal scale-out with low latency, coupled with a suite of data replication capabilities, which provide flexible architectural options that can evolve with the changing network over time.
“Cloud-based solutions from other vendors tend to be limited in terms of supporting particular network generations or protocols. We’ve created our latest platform TITAN.IUM to allow customers to take any generation of applications, any generation of legacy services and protocols and move them into the new world of cloud-native architecture,” said Rosenberg.
“This is a really important part for a carrier to harmonise their network, bring data services together, bring legacy with new together in order to make a more effective and efficient network, as well as reduce their cost as they scale forward,” he said.
Established in 1999, NetNumber has fostered a strong team environment that leverages the industry’s best skills to offer software solutions tailored for carriers of all dimensions. Based outside of Boston and with presence in over 20 countries, the company delivers a range of products that address all generations (2G, 3G, 4G, 5G) of network functions in the core network, deep rooted security products and services, STIR/ SHAKEN and set of options around data services in more than 90 countries.
Steeped in experience in building telecom solutions, software, protocol stacks, and integration of third party tools, the company’s development organisation has proven to supply to the industry with the most reliable and flexible solutions on the market.
“At NetNumber, we focus on our core competencies – we are dedicated to providing industry expertise in signaling, routing, security, subscriber management and data services. We provide customers a strong ROI through platform-based solutions that reduce Capex and Opex in the long-term,” commented Rosenberg.
Five reasons why customers choose NetNumber:
- Expertise - NetNumber has experts with deep knowledge in signaling/routing, security, and subscriber database management.
- Integration - An industry-first platform brings together domain services, applications, security, and global data services.
- Scale - NetNumber has the ability to seamlessly increase network efficiency using vertical and horizontal scaling.
- Speed - World-class solutions have the power to help companies create new service offerings and accelerate time to ROI.
- Savings - Customers enjoy significant savings in capex and opex, flexible deployment models, and investment protection.
NetNumber and Virgin Mobile MEA
“We're very proud of our partnership with Virgin Mobile MEA as they've taken the concept of the InterGENerational platform into their regional network strategy,” commented Rosenberg. “That’s accelerated how they develop exceptional services across the Middle East and Africa region.
“We work with them hand-in-hand to deliver multiple applications onto our platform which has enabled them to provide exceptional, advanced and innovative services to their customers across the Middle East, who demand high quality services.
“What they've really taken advantage of is scale. What I mean by that is they are putting multiple generations of applications and services onto the same platform and distributing that data across their network. That has resulted in an advantageous position of time to market and operational savings.
“Rather than having different applications for many different vendors that cause operational chaos, they've been able to consolidate that and reduce their operating costs by having everything on one common architecture. We’ve had a long-term relationship with Virgin Mobile in Saudi Arabia, and recently signed an agreement with Virgin Mobile in Kuwait.”
Rosenberg says that with these solutions, Virgin Mobile MEA can take advantage of getting to the market much quicker and faster—which is what today’s discerning customer demands.