We are facing an unprecedented global catastrophe. At the time of this article, the COVID-19 virus has infected millions of people worldwide and claimed the lives of a quarter of a million. Human ingenuity, creative problem-solving, and a lot of bravery have helped to keep us moving forward. Smart machines and artificial intelligence have played a significant role in maintaining factory operations with minimal human presence while the majority of us quarantine daily.
So-called “Lights Out” factories, a key part of the Industry 4.0 revolution, are equipped to handle the crisis we find ourselves in today. And COVID-19 may be the necessary impetus for all companies to convert old practices into new, incorporated and networked solutions that can operate with little or no direct human intervention. Let’s look at how automation processes and robotics are helping the world to continue functioning during a global lockdown.
How COVID has affected industry and supply lines
In almost every grocery store, shelves are bare and vital items are out of stock. This isn’t just because people are hoarding; the real culprit is the disruption to inventory supply lines. Human workers are self-quarantining and complying with stay-at-home orders, and this has slowed down shipping and delivery. What can we do to minimize the impact of stay-at-home orders on our distribution chain? Luckily, the solution already exists in many factories: Industry 4.0.
Simply put, robotics and automation can protect us from COVID-19. Businesses that incorporate Industry 4.0 practices reduce the need for on-site human presence in factories and distribution centers. Humans workers can monitor and even calibrate machines from home. As the name “lights out factory” suggests, these facilities can be run entirely in the dark because humans are not needed on-site. By converting to a lights-out factory and utilizing other automation processes, engineers and technicians are able to work remotely. People are able to minimize contact with each other and potentially contaminated surfaces. By reducing the number of people in the same place at the same time, automation processes can protect us from transmitting COVID-19 and other communicable diseases.
Advantages of moving forward
Scientists and doctors predict that this current global crisis will likely reappear in the winter, coincident with flu season. Factories and industry leaders have an opportunity, and maybe even the responsibility to, build the infrastructure for automated facilities. They can take advantage of the products and methods already available to switch to Industry 4.0. In doing so, not only do factories protect their workers and preserve the integrity of production flow, but they take advantage of energy-saving and resource-saving measures that will improve the environment.
At DIY-Robotics, we offer autonomous robots and cells that will help you convert your factory into an automated, Industry 4.0-ready facility. Check out our website at www.DIY-Robotics.com for more information on how to get your business COVID-proof by incorporating cutting-edge, self-regulating products and machines.