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Innovating during COVID-19: A Story of Collaboration

Connected World’s Peggy Smedley recently sat down for a webcast with Eddy Van Steyvoort, VP, business line automotive and on-road, IGW/VCST, which is a part of BMT Group, Kevin Wrenn, EVP, products, PTC, and Filip Bossuyt, CEO, Ad Ultima, for a discussion about innovating in a time of COVID-19, a story of collaboration.

Van Steyvoort shares the smart factory project, which started in 2017, in silos and realized quickly that it needed to think in an end-to-end scenario. He says it recognizes it had to change its systems, the organization, and its way of thinking to a more end-to-end focus to improve efficiency, reliability, quality, and the way it supports customers. The question became how does it change; and which tools to use? It decided to go to PTC and Ad Ultima to help support it.

“PTC’s PLM Software was known already in the BMT Group and that was a very, very, very strong asset and also a very strong signal from the beginning that we had already the relation, which was already there,” Van Steyvoort says. “We could build on that relation. That was the reason why we established a total plan as partners, and not let’s say as a customer supplier, but as partners,” he adds.

Then the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic hit. Van Steyvoort opines the automotive industry has been shook by coronavirus, but it didn’t want to stop the strong drive on the project and decided not to change the long-term strategy.

He insists it now knows what AR (augmented reality) is and what it can bring during COVID-19, explaining that it can support people locally from a global perspective to show them how to do things. This is one of the lessons learned during this time—that it needs to invest even more in augmented reality tools.

Ad Ultima’s Bossuyt adds it is helping VCST to think end-to-end and to realize its digital transformation. “Becoming digital is a challenge today because you have to do it end-to-end. You cannot do it for only a part of your business.”

Adding to the conversation, PTC’s Wrenn says PTC can help with openness. “We are open on multiple dimensions. Our technology is open. It enables people to do digital transformation, as Eddy was talking about, connections all the way from engineering, all the way to the factory floor, and even out to their customers. Wwe are also open from a partnership standpoint. Ad Ultima is a really important partner of PTC’s and likewise of VCST. So we are used to working in these environments both from a technology standpoint and a partnership standpoint.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, PTC’s first response was to reach out to its customers and partners to make sure they could work from home. Wrenn says the technology is made to work from home and not have to be physically on site to be able to operate the technology. “It was much more important for us to figure out how our customers could create business continuity, and at the same time we were doing it for ourselves.”

In all of this, each individual learned something very important. Van Steyvoort says it is important to create a very strong sense of urgency from the very start and keep communicating this through the whole organization that it is a future-based strategy. “Instead of focusing on the change, focus on the alternative of doing nothing, because doing nothing that means you will lose the game.” Also, don’t be afraid to express the hopes and fears.

Ad Ultima’s Bossuyt notes the most important thing is the power of the network and working together with different partners where there is a lot of trust and all the stakeholders are aligned, which has created very good results. PTC’s Wrenn adds the new normal after COVID-19 is it will make people think about the kind of projects because digitalization is going to be a requirement in the new normal.

Going forward, the next steps for VCST is to link the CAD (computer-aided design) information to the PLM (product lifecycle management), that it goes through visualization in ThingWorx, and that the whole picture will be a completely integrated solution for the future. As Van Steyvoort says, “The sky is the limit. The technology is not the limit anymore.”

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Smart Home: On the Rise?

Amid the pandemic, many are wondering if the use of technology is going to continue to rise. In many instances, the answer is yes. Such is the case with smart homes.

A new report points to the importance of incorporating smart-home technology. LexisNexis Risk Solutions released an insurance claims study revealing that in-line water shutoff systems correlate with a decrease in water claims events by 96%.

The study measured the changes in the number and severity of water-related home insurance claims with the Flo by Moen Smart Water Shutoff device against an uninstalled control group of homes in the same geolocation one year before and after installation.

Here is what it found: Prior to installation, 2,306 Flow homes had an average claims severity far greater than the control group two years prior to the installation of the device. The study also found a corresponding 72% decrease in claims severity one year after installation of the device, indicating that smart water shutoff systems are working.

The key takeaway here is that water leak mitigation and the time and money saved could help drive adoption of these smart home devices, ultimately reducing loss costs, improving the customer experience, and more.

This is in line with other reports that the smart homes market, in general, is on the rise. Mordor Intelligence says the market was valued at $64.6 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach $246.42 billion by 2025, a forecasted 25% growth rate, even amid a pandemic. The research shows there is a greater need for security and wireless controls. Further advancements in the IoT (Internet of Things) have resulted in price drops of sensors and processors, which are expected to fuel automation in the home.

While there is much to consider when it comes to smart-home technologies, research points to a continued rise in the years to come.

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COVID-19 Will Force Future Supply Chains to Become More Resilient

Late last year and early this year, research was coming out about the supply chain market, and it all looked relatively straightforward. For instance, last summer, Grand View Research predicted that one slice of the global supply-chain market, supply-chain analytics, would exceed $9.8 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 16.4% from 2019 to 2025. The top factor thought to restrict growth during this timeframe was concerns over data security. And while, at the time, this analysis was solid, it didn’t—and, in fact, couldn’t—take into account what was coming just around the bend.

In the U.S., and worldwide, a curveball in the form of COVID-19 is now complicating the supply-chain picture. In some cases, it’s shedding light on how disjointed supply chains really are. In other cases, it’s throwing into sharp relief how critical flexibility can be within the supply chain. What lessons will this pandemic force the supply chain industry to learn, and will technology play more, less, or roughly the same role in future supply chains as it did pre-COVID-19? What will it take to jumpstart supply chains post-COVID-19? These are some of the questions the industry will be asking for years to come as part of the extensive ripple effects the 2020 coronavirus pandemic will cause in the next decade and, possibly, beyond.

A supply chain is a system of organizations, people, activities, information, and resources involved in supplying a product or service to a consumer. In industries like food and food service, the supply chain includes players as varied as the farmer who’s growing or producing the food products themselves to the transportation company that’s bringing things like milk and eggs to grocery stores and restaurants that ultimately cater to end users: consumers. Several trends during the past several years have been shifting how supply-chains operate, including an overall diversification of consumer preferences, consumer demand for traceability (especially in food and food-service supply chains), consumer and regulatory demand for sustainability in the production and transportation of all kinds of goods, and the use of technology to manage supply chain operations.

Since COVID-19 began to hit the U.S. hard in March, some supply chains were immediately and directly affected by the illness as workers became sick and were quarantined. Many more were affected as supply and demand began to shift in topsy-turvy ways as the economy underwent a major and swift transition. Restaurants and retail stores shut down, and consumers flooded grocery stores for essential items like canned goods and paper products. As businesses were forced to lay off workers, consumers closed their pocket books to entire categories of products and services.

The apocalyptic sense felt upon entering grocery stores with empty shelves left many wondering what was going on in the supply chain. While on the surface, it looked like food shortages, the problem really was and is with the supply chain. On one hand, demand from restaurants has plummeted, and on the other, consumers stockpiling food to avoid coming back to the store as often as usual (or, in worse-case scenarios, hoarding food), are throwing historic data and trends’ value out the window. And yet, technology will be key to both managing this rough spot and jumpstarting supply chains once economies begin to go back to “normal”—whatever the new normal will be.

Supply-chain players prepared to offer transparency, communication, and flexibility are best positioned to limit the disruption to operations during times like the current COVID-19 outbreak. Lessons learned during these hard times will hopefully encourage more supply chains to adopt practices and technologies that will make their link in the chain more resilient next time around.

Want to tweet about this article? Use hashtags #IoT #sustainability #AI #5G #cloud #edge #digitaltransformation #machinelearning #supplychain #foodservice #analytics #COVID19 #coronavirus #retail

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5G and Cybersecurity Risk: Two Opposing Trends in Manufacturing

In just a few years, by 2023, the IoT (Internet of Things) in the manufacturing market is expected to reach $994 billion, according to Allied Market Research. Emerging technologies will encourage this growth, including in areas like AI (artificial intelligence), AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality), and, importantly, 5G. However, cybersecurity …

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Manufacturing and the COVID-19 Pandemic

Technology-industry professionals are used to things changing quickly, but the changes that have occurred in life and business during the past few weeks thanks to the COVID-19 virus are nothing short of astonishing. Just earlier this month in the U.S., it was business as usual, but, today, entire industries …

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Who’s Eyeing Quantum Clouds

There has been a lot of talk, as of late, that the cloud has become a resource to turn to when a company needs large amounts of digital storage, constantly updated SaaS (software-as-a-service), or high-performance computing capabilities. Couple this with the expansion of AI (artificial intelligence) in applications, even smaller …

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Honeywell Solution Makes Smart University Even Smarter

Commercial buildings are voracious consumers of energy. The buildings and building construction sectors contribute around 30% of global energy consumption and almost 40% of CO2 emissions (direct and indirect), according to the IEA. Sustainable buildings are more than trendy, they’re key to reducing humans’ carbon footprint on the planet. Building owners …

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Top Data Center Concerns and Priorities

As 2020 kicks off a new decade, and one of the questions the tech space is asking about the years ahead is what will happen to traditional data centers? The data center market is expected to reach about $10 billion by 2023, while the global data center market could reach $174 billion by 2023, according …

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Overcoming Hurdles to Autonomous Cities

The technology to power connected cities exists today—and continued growth is predicted. Will all our cities soon be connected? Or do hurdles stand in the way? Perhaps one of the biggest challenge will be overcoming regulatory hurdles that could slow the progress down.Technavio says the autonomous bus market, …

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Cybersecurity Best Practices: Key Properties of Highly Secure Devices

High up on companies’ list is protecting their data, privacy, physical safety, and infrastructure. This is true across the board. No matter the industry, sector, or business, any enterprise looking to develop and deploy secure, connected devices has a similar list of concerns. Microsoft’s latest answer to this need …

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