In times of crisis, it is important for the industry to still dare to invest in the future and think long-term. An important lesson from the Corona pandemic is the importance of accelerating the digitalization of production.
In the wake of the ongoing Corona pandemic, the health of the industry is becoming increasingly important. So far, the manufacturing industry, which relies on large numbers of subcontractors to screw up its products, has been a little tougher than the process industry, which is closer to the raw material and feels the deteriorating economy only when customer demand decreases. The pharmaceutical industry, on the other hand, is experiencing increased demand pressure right now.
- Regardless of industry, the great risk during this crisis is that investments in innovation and research will be ignored. When demand falls, it becomes difficult for companies to continue investing. They are simply forced to adjust their investments based on the turnover they have, says Peter Wallin, program manager for PiiA.
It is important to look ahead And right now, the industry is holding tight to its wallets, it is careful about where investments are made, the number of consultants is reduced and all forward-looking projects that include new technology and AI are postponed to the future.
- The risk is therefore great that we now get a notch in the S-curve. This is how it has always looked and it is a frustrating lesson. In times of crisis, they do not consider themselves able to afford to invest in research and development, and during booms they do not feel they have the resources or time. Here, through our innovation collaborations, we can help and support the industry even in times of crisis.
Even if the economy declines and companies are forced to hold back on their resources, it is still important that they dare to invest forward and think long-term.
- Only then is it possible to emerge stronger from the crisis than its competitors. Continued digitization of production is necessary to achieve increased efficiency and improved sustainability. The goal is to reduce production disruptions and emissions and increase control over the processes, says Peter Wallin.
The industry brings home production Another clear lesson from the pandemic - especially in the manufacturing industry - is that companies are beginning to think about how their value chains and supply chains are best designed.
- More and more people are now choosing to reduce their exposure with an overly dispersed supplier base by bringing home the subcontractors' production closer to Sweden and final assembly. This is positive for Sweden and it means´that our import dependence decreases and that our net exports increase, says Peter Wallin.
Another trend is that many in the industry now increasingly want to accelerate the digitalization of production.
- For Swedish industry, it is necessary and a matter of survival. We experience that the industry, especially in remote Asia, is more responsive and AI-mature than in Europe and North America. Competing with a more digitalized industry from low-cost countries will be a tough challenge for those companies that choose to drag their feet behind them, says Johannes Holmberg, CEO of the AI company Calejo Industrial Intelligence and concludes:
- We therefore need to create more incentives for Swedish industry to accelerate its work to become more digital and automated. Companies need more help than they get today. The government initiatives that have been implemented so far in connection with the Corona pandemic have been about support packages for companies. In the next wave, I hope that more is invested in research and development. It would really be needed.