The panic-buying we’ve been seeing in grocery stores across America is partially due to the fact that the products we need have always been there. Until now, we’ve taken that luxury for granted.
When the coronavirus paralyzed global manufacturing and supply chains, it caused massive disruption that made us realize just how important those operations were to world economies and our own daily lives.
But it also showed us how much we depend on the efforts of factory workers and the proper functioning of the equipment they operate. And yet, in many cases, these machines are working harder than they were meant to, in order to a) keep up with unprecedented spikes in demand, and b) compensate for production that has stopped elsewhere.
What we need more than ever is supply-chain resiliency — or the food, water and other items essential for survival may simply run out. And a critical part of developing this resiliency is ensuring the reliability of the machines that matter most.
That’s why companies like Augury are so important. The New York-based startup combines the foundations of asset-performance management and predictive maintenance with the most recent advances in sensor technology and artificial intelligence to “listen” to machines, analyze data in real time, and provide accurate and actionable machine-health insights.
“As a company that supports those people and manufacturers, Augury sees its mission from a greater lens now than we did in the past,” Augury Co-Founder and CEO Saar Yoskovitz told me recently. “Our vision is to build a world where people can always rely on the machines that matter. Those machines matter more today than they ever did.”
For instance, a toilet paper supplier in the United Kingdom that Augury works with saw a three-fold increase in demand in March, shipping 63 million tons of product, versus its usual 20 million in a typical month. As the current crisis deepens, it’s critical that the supplier monitors its machines closely, as they run harder and longer than they were originally intended to.
In addition to mechanical failure, another type of disruption that Augury’s solutions can mitigate is to the global supply chain. When the coronavirus froze manufacturing in China in February, 40 percent of the world’s factory operations went offline. And this caused companies to shift manufacturing to other regions, forcing facilities in those locations to increase capacity.
“So, we need visibility into the health of these machines to be able to manage risk. And you need different kinds of tools in order to see their performance in real time, so you can make better decisions,” Saar says.
The third type of disruption that Augury addresses is the one that the pandemic has forced onto all of us. Shelter-in-place orders throughout the country have mandated that most of us stay home. Fortunately, tools like Zoom, Slack and Salesforce have eased the transition for teams that work in an office. But remote collaboration isn’t as familiar a concept for equipment-maintenance crews, which still rely largely on pen and paper, white boards and scrum meetings.
That’s why, as manufacturing facilities began shutting down around the world, Augury fast-tracked the launch of new capabilities and enhancements that enable operations and maintenance personnel to remotely monitor, diagnose and share information about the health of critical machinery.
One of these enhancements is called “Threads,” which allows existing Augury customers using its Halo sensors to share status reports, photos, analytics and actions from anywhere in the world. The new feature displays a machine’s maintenance history all in one place, while also allowing direct access to Augury’s machine health and reliability experts for consultation.
Saar says Threads is like Slack for machines. And that matters in an industry like manufacturing, where the standard team divisions — operations, maintenance and reliability — are often at odds because of different KPIs or access to data.
“Augury’s goal is to give teams a unified truth for decision-making around machines,” Saar says.
Like we’re seeing in other business sectors, the current crisis is accelerating innovation and technological transformation in manufacturing and across supply chains. But at Augury, there’s also genuine appreciation for the people who make up these industries.
Let’s not forget that many workers have contracted the coronavirus themselves, or have had to self-quarantine because loved ones may have been exposed or tested positive. To acknowledge the sacrifice and bravery of front-line workers everywhere, Augury produced this thank-you video based on a blog post honoring friends and partners in the manufacturing industry:
While our medical professionals are leading this fight, doing their part to combat the spread of illness, you’re doing all you can to make sure they’ll have the products they need, from masks and gloves to medicines and cleaning products. And to ensure that the rest of us have the products we need, from diapers and toothpaste to paper products (and even the occasional chocolate or beer).
We’re proud to work alongside you, doing our part to keep the machines upon which your production depends healthy and running, so you can do your part to keep our economy — and society — healthy and running.
Going forward, we must pay more attention not just to the men and women in these facilities, but to the machines that are working harder than ever to provide us with the essential goods for our survival.
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