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Monday, December 19, 2022

Thoughts on Remote Factory Supply Chain Work

 Thought is not new,   a step towards the Metaverse?   Increases in security concerns an issue,  it canbe done, but will it be?   Most supply chains are remotely automated to some degree today. 

Will the next industrial revolution bring the factory floor home?

By Robert J. Bowman,  in  SupplyChainBrain.     December 19, 2022  

The COVID-19 pandemic sent millions of office workers to the shelter of their homes. And while we’re well past lockdown status (at least in this country), many have yet to return to the traditional workplace, full- or even part-time.

We quickly learned during the crisis that most office and administrative tasks could be performed from home — never mind the kids, pets, laundry and battles to carve out private workspaces amid the bustle. In the process, we sacrificed certain positive byproducts of an office environment, such as social interaction and the building of a solid corporate culture. But the job was still getting done.

What couldn’t be brought home during the pandemic was, to no one’s surprise, factory work. There’s simply no substitute for having people present on the production line (notwithstanding a growing dependence on automation to pare their numbers). Now, however, even that assumption about work practices is being challenged.

Jerry Foster, chief technology officer and founder of Plex, maker of a “smart” manufacturing software platform, see the potential for a shift of at least some factory duties to the home. The number of people working from home tripled between 2019 and 2021, he notes, from 5.7% to 17.9%, although approximately 60% of all work, including most manufacturing jobs, couldn’t be done remotely.

Until now. The key to the dream of remote manufacturing, Foster says, lies in virtual and augmented reality, which effectively puts the worker on the assembly line for all purposes short of physically touching the goods.

In fact, the first building block in making that possible — cloud computing — has been with us for a number of years. But VR and AR are the final elements that will, in Foster’s opinion, transform the very nature and practice of manufacturing.  .... ' 

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