Industry 2021 – what can we expect?
We can’t do predictions for the next year without looking at the passing year – 2020. We all leave year 2020 behind us without regrets and warm memories, and we look with hope at the new one, questioning what the industry of 2021 will be like.
Let’s reluctantly look back (at 2020)
Deloitte has recently prepared an analysis for the American market. It confirms the slowdown in the industrial market. And this is exactly in the year when the market was to regain its balance after the economic crisis of 2008. It turned out otherwise: COVID 19 caused a significant slowdown and although the situation is slowly returning to “normal” (still written in quotation marks) it is already known that recovery will take much longer than expected. Deloitte, based on the Oxford Economic Model, predicts a decline in GDP growth in industry. For 2020, a decrease by 3.7% is expected, while the next year is expected to bring a decrease by 5.4%. During the first lockdown, the United States experienced an over 16% drop in production and over 20% drop in orders. These data do not fill us with joy and optimism. This is, of course, data for the US market. Most EU countries are slowly rebuilding their production potential, but the industry is recording a decrease of 5.8% compared to the previous year (the EU average).
This is not about Ireland – last year it had the biggest decrease, by over 14% compared to 2019. This green island is Poland. Industrial production in our country in September 2020 increased by 3.3% compared to the previous year. Portugal came second with a 2.5% positive result, but it is worth remembering that it is a country with a much lower share of industry in GDP. Slovakia, Hungary, Lithuania and Croatia also performed well, posting negative results, but at the small level of -2%. However, all these countries have a small industrial market compared to the Polish one. At the bottom of the table there is the aforementioned Ireland, but also Germany, France, the Netherlands – the industrial motor of the European Union.
So we didn’t do that badly! We quickly rebounded after the fall of 43% in April (compared to April 2019) but not completely. September was the last month of the “corona-vacation”, where the incidence was low and the situation seemed to slowly normalize. From October, the virus (as predicted) began to take its toll again. Thus, the increases recorded from May to September … could again “follow the downward spiral”.
We hope that this instability will not have a strong impact on the Polish industry and we will come out of this stagnation unscathed.
Sit down and cry or fight?
Fight of course! 2020 also proved the importance of advanced business process management, and thus industrial process management. Process automation was progressing, including the share of mobile and remote technologies. We felt it as a distributor of Proficy Webspace – a desktop and mobile client for Proficy SCADA software: iFIX and Cimplicity. Many companies have spent the pandemic setting up a financial cushion (understandably) in preparation for “uncertain times”. However, a large number of enterprises focused on internal analyzes and audits. Their results were the beginning of the “cleaning” campaign for many production plants – improving and modernizing the currently operating systems, investments in virtualization, remote access. How to prepare for an audit? We wrote about it here >>
What will 2021 bring?
Rebuilding the realized volume of orders from 2019 will take years, as our business partners say. How can this process be accelerated? What can be done to make up for the losses that 2020 brought?
- Invest in advanced analytical tool. Start with a correctly counted OEE indicator – it will verify the work and efficiency of your plant. It is best, of course, if it will be calculated automatically on the basis of data meticulously collected by database systems.
- Invest in mobile and desktop tools. During 2020, working in the home office system has become the norm for most office workers. Some of them, however, did not have access to visualization systems. Sometimes, even within one plant, an employee (e.g. chief technologist) had to go down to the production hall – while he could easily read the data without leaving his room. Many companies have already bet on this possibility in 2020. We already know that this trend will continue in the next year – it is suggested not only by the planned projects, but also by the inquiries we have received over the last few months. In addition… GE Digital offers its Proficy Webspace solution for free for 3 months – it is worth using and testing secure access to corporate data.
Look for savings by … investing!
2020 was largely a year of “staff shortages”, whether due to quarantine or an attempt to keep production with less manpower and spread over shifts. You should take care of proper production and availability of machines monitoring, as well as reporting the efficiency of the machine park.
When looking for savings, it is worth looking at the media consumption in the company. Be sure to check the tariffs, try not to exceed the declared consumption. Look at your water and gas consumption (including industrial gases – exact measurements are necessary), like e.g. here.
It is also worth taking an interest in predicting events – based on historical data, using appropriate tools, you will be able to generate alarms when e.g. temperature or pressure levels are exceeded. Importantly – using advanced analytics of historical data, you can predict the depreciation of your machines, as well as the consumption of their key elements. This will allow you to budget for potential failures and downtime.
Mobility, remote access and progressive virtualization – this trend will not be reversed by any pandemic, and what’s more, it can even accelerate the processes of digitization of industry.
Digital Twin – Many world industrial leaders have been creating this type of simulation for several years based on reliably collected data. The more data you collect – the more faithful process simulation you will get. Thanks to this type of solutions, you can avoid making investment mistakes and detect future trends. Solutions of this type would not be able to develop without …
Cloud computing – outsourcing of computing space reduces costs caused by possible failures and recovery. Of course, you can use your own storage spaces and backups, but is it safe to store the backup in one location (the same where the company is located)? Good Data Centers offer several data storage locations and more importantly very fast data recovery when needed. Cloud computing radically reduces the costs of maintaining your own IT infrastructure and its modernization.
Internet of Things – machine management through an application? This happens not only in our homes (air purifiers, light bulbs or refrigerators with an app that we can control the object), but also in industry. In addition to remote control, we receive a lot of signals and additional data that we can use to analyze the processes.
3D printing – a trend that has been going on for several years. This year’s pandemic and partial disruption of the supply chain (or its significant extension) have shown the possibilities of industrial 3D printing. Many companies have chosen to create spare parts for their machines in this way, keeping the supply chain to a minimum.
Augmented Reality – the availability of experts and on-site technical support in 2020 was very limited. In many cases, the fledgling AR industrial technology helped. Support workers performed advanced maintenance works using the ‘hands’ of employees who were in the company, perfectly seeing what was happening on the side of e.g. a broken machine, server or line.
2021 will be better?
Hopefully so. It will certainly be one of the most interesting years in terms of technology and its use in practice. Industrial analysts are very cautious in their predictions, but they agree that stopping the global COVID-19 pandemic will greatly revive the industrial market and the entire global economy.