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Managing Factories from the Beach: Myth or Reality?


Much has been written and said about the pandemic and its global ripple effects on everything from employment to the supply chain to the economy, and more. We’ve all lived this in real time, so we won’t rehash any of those details with you here. The oft-repeated looming question in everyone’s mind is “After this crisis, what will the ‘new normal’ look like?”

With every crisis comes opportunity. In a recent series of articles titled “Beyond coronavirus: The pathway to the next normal,” McKinsey experts described five qualities that will be critical for business leaders to find their way to the next normal: resolve, resilience, return, reimagination, and reform. McKinsey suggests that in order to come back stronger, companies should reimagine their business model as they return to full speed and that those who step up their game will be better off and far more ready to confront the challenges—and opportunities—of the “next normal” than those who do not. The series goes on to describe four strategic areas for businesses to focus on: recovering revenue, rebuilding operations, rethinking the organization, and accelerating the adoption of digital solutions.


We all know that the COVID-19 crisis has accelerated digital transformation in almost every market sector and vertical. But McKinsey indicates “the best companies are going further, by enhancing and expanding their digital capabilities, using advanced analytics to combine new sources of data with their own insights to make better and faster decisions and strengthen their links to customers.”

Providing solutions that equip companies, particularly manufacturers, to automate and digitalize their operations toward better, faster decisions and superior customer outcomes is our forte. In the manufacturing environment, the ultimate ideal of automation―“dark factory”―the idea of a “lights out”  smart factory that can run autonomously on the power of AI and connectivity with little human intervention, and effectively managed “from the beach”―is still largely conceptual. Yet we have been building and deploying aspects of this very model for our clients for the last 4-5 years.  Because of where the world is heading, we believe this is no longer just vision or theory―it will be a widespread reality in the “next normal.”

The digitalization process cannot replace all of the immense knowledge and expertise of people. The objective is to make this operational knowledge actionable from the outside-in so the plant manager can easily control and make adjustments from a remote location. In post-pandemic factories we believe there will be increased automation and AI and fewer people on the shop floor to reflect the ongoing need for social distancing. The more people interact with the shop floor from the outside, the less opportunity there will be for future healthcare crises to impact production and supply chain.


If you are a manufacturing enterprise that has been sitting on the sidelines deciding whether digitalization is something you need to do now or later, this message may be for you. To be counted among the best, most innovative and competitive in your area of expertise, we believe you must digitalize your entire operation.  It’s just as essential in this day and age as having a website for your business (could you effectively compete without an internet presence today?).

What better time than now to begin designing, implementing and working toward the goal of the lights-out factory ideal? We can provide you the elements needed to fully digitalize your operations and show you how to get there faster than you think. What makes our approach unique is that we provide a true end-to-end solution that can be built and modified visually by even business stakeholders in a fraction of the time and cost.  You can readily create an operational digital twin of your entire operation, fully leveraging your data and ending in action that ultimately benefits your operations and your end customers.

There is still a long road ahead to fully managing factories “from the beach” but the outcome is becoming within our grasp at an increasing pace. We are looking forward to helping make the dream reality.

View a case study of how Decisyon’s Digital Factory Solutions improved effectiveness across multiple manufacturing plants and geographies.