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Key considerations for working remotely within the supply chain

12 Feb 2021

Digital technologies are enabling new levels of effective remote and flexible working

The change in remote working culture in 2020 changed expectations for both businesses and individuals. But while remote working has become the norm for knowledge workers over the past year – how have company’s accelerated digitalisation plans affected the rest of the workforce?

From warehouse to ports, many would think that home working wouldn’t be an option – but that is not always the case. A production manager, for example, is no longer tied to the shop floor. Using IoT and cloud, production managers have access to all the data they need without having to go into the office.

Robotics and IoT on the factory floor and around ports means that workers can monitor production equipment remotely, minimising the need for emergency repairs and allowing carefully managed preventative maintenance schedules in line with safe distancing guidelines.

Innovations such as virtual reality, tactile sensors and haptic communications allow them to experience and feel sensations remotely so that, through robotics, machines can be repaired without the individual being physically present.

Data changes jobs

Of course, many individuals are still required to be out and about.

Digital technologies can be used to give workers in warehouses or factories rapid access to information that not just improves their efficiency and safety – in some cases, it is changing the day-to-day job.

Companies are using IoT to automate processes, freeing up people to focus on knowledge-based tasks – such as handling exceptions. Machinery operates autonomously, creating a ‘light touch’ production environment that demands minimal manual intervention.

When employees know where the goods are, how they are being stored and when they are due to arrive, they can rapidly deal with any problems as they arise.

For example, temperature and humidity sensors are increasingly being used to control the environment and minimise product damage. Workers are alerted immediately if there is a problem and can step in and mitigate the risk of wasted stock.

Individuals can also know exactly what they have to do for each job before they start. With photographs of an item that needs to be repaired or video feeds explaining where equipment is located, individuals can have far more confidence in their ability to fulfil the task. With 100% reliable communications, they can check information in real-time and collaborate with colleagues anywhere in the company if needed.

Future opportunities

Digital technologies are changing the way people work – and not just knowledge workers. There has been a cultural shift and a change in attitude - remote working is now widely recognised and accepted.

What is exciting is that we now have a remote working culture that is unlocking the door to innovation throughout the supply chain. It’s this innovation that is keeping workers safe and providing them with the information they need to get the job done, right the first time.

According to our IoT Spotlight Research, 84% of IoT adopters now view the integration of IoT devices and data with remote workers as a high priority. From wearable devices that provide workers with real-time information, including video, to the way people and robots will work safely together, we are on the cusp of a remote working revolution that will touch every part of work and business.

Find out more about transforming your supply chain with digital technologies and preparing for the world of tomorrow.

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