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Smart Factories Connect Industries to the Future

By Alfonso Núñez | Thu, 12/02/2021 - 17:50

The pandemic accelerated the need for companies to turn to automatization and data collection to stay afloat. Those who adapted robotic automatization with flexibility were the companies that remained in the market, explained experts during INFOR’s “Technology Trends 2022 in Manufacturing and Distribution in Latin America” online event.

 

“The value in the process of digitalization as a crisis response is becoming more and more evident,” said Abraham Sosa, Director Latin America, Universal Robots. Sosa is all too familiar with offering companies new technological services and the reasons why they might be hesitant to adopt them, even though not doing so has been proved to mean a company likely will not stand the test of time.

 

This is increasingly pressing as the days when Mexico and Latin America had the upper hand in the global market due to cheap labor are over, said Sosa. The adoption of these new technologies will ensure the region’s industries remain relevant and competitive. Sosa suggests focusing on replacing tasks of low value with automatization to avoid the loss of jobs in the country and ensure that employees are not tasked with meaningless work, increasing their sense of value for the company and individual productivity.

 

Corporate is often averse to new technologies, a paradigm that Universal Robot tries to break with its technological services, training and understanding of new technologies. Universal Robots offers a program that accompanies users through the first and most difficult implementations to make sure they have a basic knowledge that allows them to stand on their own and solve any issues that may come up independently.

 

“Every time there is an advancement in technology, people are conservative by nature. The first reaction is not to adapt… but when people see that the new technology is beneficiary for everyone, it starts to be adapted more and more,” said Antonio Brito, Director of Value Engineering Latin America, INFOR. Companies have to have faith in the long-term benefits these adaptations will bring, Brito said, as early adaptation will give months to years of advantages to the companies who take the leap.

 

INFOR has observed an improvement in the organization of staff members working in plants as a result of post-pandemic technology adaptation. These adaptations are mostly welcomed because they bring large opportunities for indirect long-term benefits beyond immediate returns. Brito is a big proponent for the data collection and facilitation behind digitalization, stressing the benefits of automatically collecting and analyzed data using in order to make better decisions. This technology, however, must be accessible in order to be efficient.

 

Established companies can efficiently adapt new technologies to remain competitive, said Mauricio Brito, COO, Heartbest Foods. To do so, he suggests not reinventing the wheel but instead using with existing tools and standards that will allow companies to save money. Noting this adaptation of has been very valuable for investors.

 

However, companies should not “lose sight of our reason for existing. Technology should not divert that reason… of solving a problem,” which in Heartbest Foods’s case is hunger. To not let technology overpower the company’s motives, Heartbest foods built in layers and turned data into information that was later integrated into more sophisticated models for machine learning.

 

Small and medium companies can also join the race towards digitalization even without the spending budgets of more established companies, said Octavio Jiménez, CEO, Arvolution. To do so, they must understand their needs as a company and budget over the project and the estimated payback.

 

“One of the primary benefits aside from data collection is that you can create a data link… this brings a transition in which you stop viewing each chain separately and instead start to see a connection,” said Jiménez. The adaptation of these technologies “simply works” for companies willing to take them on, even if they do not necessarily know what they are doing or why it is working. Arvolution’s services looks to aid these companies so that they are able to reach the next level of benefits and form a channel of technological advancements for the entire industry.

 

Many smaller companies wonder why they should invest in new technology if their methods of manufacture currently in place already work. However, the pandemic led some to change this vision. Jiménez, for example, said that this was a time of introspection for companies, in which many identifies areas they could improve on.

Photo by:   Unsplash, Jonas Morgner
Alfonso Núñez Alfonso Núñez Journalist & Industry Analyst