COVID-19 reveals the critical role of automation across industries

Automation across industries

In light of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, countries across the globe are scrambling to protect as many lives as possible. Within workforces, this means a major push towards automation, with tech companies stepping in to bridge the gap and implement the necessary solutions.

Technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and intelligent automation (IA) are already being put into practice across industries.

Workflow automation and supply chains

COVID-19 has clearly impacted global logistics with increased shipment delays, labor shortages, and flight cancellations, and manufacturers are transitioning towards better workflow automation.

With the lack of transparency and information about raw materials, AI technologies focused on end-to-end tracking are assisting manufacturers, supply chains, and even consumers. Yet, despite the positive influence of automation, industries aren’t as well prepared as they could be.

Access to immediate information

Previously, regulations were set to protect consumers from unwanted robocalls by requiring prior consent. Amid COVID-19, public health authorities, including hospitals, health care providers, and local officials can effectively communicate important emergency information to the public without any concern about violating regulations. For example, health officials with time-sensitive health and safety information that would help citizens slow the spread of COVID-19 are now considered an acceptable emergency, as stated by the Federal Communications Commission.

In a more general sense, businesses are also looking to automate their call centers as rising wait times and dropped connections are becoming inevitable in these overwhelming conditions. In order to deliver quality customer care and reduce operating costs in times of economic uncertainty, AI and IA-based virtual agents are becoming a popular option. These virtual agents can provide automated answers to common questions, inform citizens about current updates, and replace live agents as much as possible.

A new era for restaurants


For one, restaurants have begun implementing contactless and facial recognition payment systems. Some establishments are now attaching devices to their doors to digitally screen staff and guests for fevers, after which they automatically unlock the entrance door.

Other restaurants have implemented Miso Robots, autonomous kitchen assistants, to take charge of their grilling and frying stations.

Contactless interaction with devices


Consumer human-machine interfaces (HMI) like ATMs and info touch screens have become a heated topic as the public begins to view them as possible health risks. Companies are now considering voice and gesture-based interactions in consideration of safety, privacy, and cleanliness. For example, a hospital in China’s Hubei Province recently installed a voice-activated elevator to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Another leading AI firm SenseTime deployed its contactless temperature detection software in underground stations, schools, and community centers in Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen.


A wake-up call for industries?

This pandemic has exposed existing problems in the way we currently do business. Industries worldwide may need to consider necessary reforms and long-term solutions when it comes to automation and digitalization to withstand crises in the future.

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