Reshoring and Remote Management

Supply chain disruptions prompt reshoring effort and adoption of disruptive technology, including AI, 3D-printing, and multi-streaming video for remote access. Watch this Take Five with OEM video to discover more.


Quick hits:

  • Supply chain disruptions related to COVID-19 prompts manufacturers to bring production back to the U.S.
  • Shortage of skilled labor requires adoption of automation technology, robots, artificial intelligence, machine learning, remote access software, and more, for quality control and predictive maintenance of assets.
  • Bright Machines’ Microfactory for assembly, testing, and inspection, helps contract manufacturer Argonaut Manufacturing Services ramp up production of COVID-19 test kits.
  • After-sales service provider Adtance adds Fieldstreaming to its remote access offering, enabling multiple cameras to live stream various angles of a machine simultaneously to offsite experts.

Related to this episode:

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   Read the transcript below:

Hi, I'm Stephanie Neil and welcome to Take Five with OEM Magazine.

Today I'm going to talk about two topics. One is a mega trend around reshoring and the other is something that OEMs are very familiar with and that's remote management. But there's a new twist on the technology and I want to tell you about that, which I will later on in the segment.

But first let's talk about reshoring. Of course this has been talked about for years, but I think it's just human nature that we don't do things until we're forced to do it. And the force was the pandemic. Suddenly we didn't have any materials or components or parts or PPE or toilet paper and all of a sudden manufacturers were talking about bringing production back to the U.S. and partnering with people who are here—or at least on the same continent. So whether it's Canada or Mexico, making sure that there's a nearshoring effort and we are not depending on partners that are an ocean away.

Of course there's still problems with reshoring around regulations and corporate taxes and the lack of skill set. So many of these manufacturers are looking to technology to solve those problems, disruptive technology like artificial intelligence, machine learning, 3D printing, and cloud computing. And in the spring issue of OEM Magazine we dive into this a little bit more and we look at two companies that are actually looking at these technologies and setting up shop here in the US.

The first one is a company called Intrepid Protect. It's a California based startup and they built a facility in Los Angeles in 2020. Their sole purpose is to make PPE. They're using artificial intelligence and machine learning first for quality control of the product, but also for predictive maintenance of the machines. The other company is called Argonaut Manufacturing Services and they are a contract manufacturer for the life sciences and the biopharma industry. They’re making the COVID-19 test kits, the swab and the liquid that preserves it.

They have to do the filling and packaging and needed a quick way to ramp up production here in the U.S. So they turned to a startup company called Bright Machines which has a product called microfactory. Microfactory uses intelligence software, advanced hardware, machine learning, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and robotics. All of those things are brought together in a common interface. So it's very easy to start up and very easy to scale. In fact, the executives of Bright Machines told me that they are automating automation. So it doesn't get any easier than that.

So what does this mean to you? It means that you have to start thinking outside the box and looking at other technologies and being creative about how you cater to your customers and the services that you provide. That brings me to my next point about remote management, something that OEMs are very familiar with. You give a technician a smartphone and a camera and they can start streaming images to an expert offsite. The problem is that the expert offsite can only see what that technician sees in their line of sight.

German company Adtance came up with a new product called field streaming and it's basically a kit of cameras, power supply, and internet connection, but it can work with any camera that you have onsite, whether it's your computer camera or your smartphone or a security camera or a drone or even an underwater remote vehicle that has a camera.

All of this can be streamed into a single interface so that the offsite expert can look at what's going on holistically. And the folks over at Adtance told me that, yes, they did develop this because of COVID-19, but a lot of their customers were asking for this beforehand because machinery is just getting way too complex and sophisticated, and they just don't have the field technicians with the skillset that can maintain that. And so they need help and they need a holistic view.

The platform also supports messages, documents, recordings, digital white boarding, live video chat, and it also supports translation for 147 different languages. And that is so important in today's global economy. This is a single point of connection that is perfect for virtual FATs, for training, for remote management, for customer service, and it's something that OEMs needs to be thinking about.

So if you want to learn more about the Adtance technology, go to oemmagazine.org and you can read all about it.