It is hard to believe, that just a little bit over 2 months ago, Italy had only 3 cases of Covid-19 infections.
It was at that time when we had just finished installation of ZOOMFAB® at OMR Spa, one of the largest Italian automotive component manufacturers in Remedello (Lombardy) and at Belia Sarl, sheetmetal fabricator in San Giorgio in Bosco (Veneto), when hardly anybody spoke about the virus. Only a few days later, both regions were the first ones to go into lock-down. Imagine, only 2 months ago! It is frightening to see the speed at which the situation can change. And 2 months later, we are still barely grasping the nature of this global calamity.
Interestingly enough, despite the huge impact Coronavirus has had, the majority of sheetmetal shops in hard hit northern Italy region had almost uninterrupted operation. This reflects not only the huge momentum this industry has but also the fact that sheetmetal parts are needed in good and bad times. Very few people realize, that this is the second largest industry in the world, only gas and oil industries are larger.
Seeing our Italian customers being able to work in such desperate times is really amazing. Unfortunately, the majority of them are running with only limited resources, which makes it more difficult. With an ad hoc arrangement, skeleton crew, a reduced number of machines and remotely working administration and management, running business under those conditions is a real challenge.
In this scenario, with limited administration and management resources, it is very hard to monitor, analyze and adjust production to achieve optimum results. With the reduced number of factory workers, when machine operators perform multiple tasks, it is difficult to maintain data collection discipline and accuracy. ERP reports are inaccurate and almost useless for serious analysis. Those using MES suffer from similar problems, as data entry depends very much on operator input.
As our Italian customers tell us, ZOOMFAB® provides an uninterrupted and accurate real-time information about machine utilization and work center performance. “It is not only an irreplaceable tool in good times, but a true savior in bad time like this”.
Being a fully automated system, which requires no human data input or intervention, ZOOMFAB® instantly shows what matters most - the available machine capacity, efficiency at which this capacity is utilized and financial impact on hourly rates, revenue and profitability. ZOOMFAB’s “What If?” future also allows managers to quickly model different scenarios of machine deployment and simulate their impact.
Our Italian experience has proven, that with a tool like ZOOMFAB®, business owners and managers can produce more with less resources, often exceed budgeted goals and maintain or increase profit.
For sheetmetal workers coming out of this dark experience, it will be important not only to return to normal, but to take advantage of new market conditions which will definitely bring new opportunities and fresh competition. There is no doubt, that only with 18 months of the true market experience and such a vigorous baptism by fire, ZOOMFAB will come on the top of the list of the most valuable business tools helping our customers not only to recover but to take on new challenges.
Machine operators and other factory workers know their workplace very well and they will easily notice even the smallest changes in their working environment. So when ZOOMFAB technicians open the machine cabinets and start installing the IoT sensors, employees usually rise their eyebrows in discomfort.