Why resiliency matters
Operational resilience is a form of risk mitigation and management. How well does your company anticipate, adapt to, and rebound from unexpected stressors or disruptions? Chances are you found out rather quickly in 2020 as the pandemic impacted everyday life and business.
Uncertainty has always been a challenge. Manufacturers and suppliers have long faced fluctuating demands, supply-chain nuisances, escalating costs, and unplanned downtime. However, operational resiliency was likely untested to the degree it has been since the “new normal” kicked in.
One outcome has been an increased reliance on technology. If nothing else, the pandemic accelerated the demand for automation and autonomous operations to mitigate workflow disruptions. In fact, statistics indicate that COVID-19 sped the adoption of digital technologies by several years.
A McKinsey Global Survey found that companies accelerated the digitization of their internal operations, as well as their customer and supply-chain interactions, by three to four years. Priorities are also shifting. According to a recent IBM report, businesses are now focused on ensuring business security, cost management, and enterprise agility — in other words, operational resilience.
For the fastener industry, this might look like integrated software (such as an ERP system, which better connects and manages supply chains) and automated equipment or processes for manufacturing and distribution. For example, automated precision equipment, including fastener feeding and driving machines, can ensure traceability, error-proofing, and quality control. Robotic adhesive-dispensing systems also promise excellent repeatability for increased efficiency.
Although technological advances support operational resilience, mindfulness is also important. The fear of job losses has accompanied technological advances since the Industrial Revolution. Labor-saving digitalization and automation are ideal until they result in major job cuts — or the fear of job cuts — for employees.
Fortunately, these fears are often unfounded. Certainly, automation might replace some roles, but it can also lead to increases in others — including for the techs and engineers that maintain these systems. Automation can also lead to expanded production and greater productivity typically requires a larger workforce.
As 3M shares in their article on automation (see page 108) states: “It’s important to note that integrating automation and data in manufacturing does not eliminate the production workforce from the process… Labor will simply look different.” In this issue, we also share a few profiles about the employees and entrepreneurs hard at work in the fastener industry. If you’re interested in sharing your story, write us at [email protected]. We’d love to hear from you!