The COVID-19 pandemic has hastened the transition to digitalization in electrical engineering. As a result of the pandemic, many businesses instituted telecommuting policies and started using online tools for communicating with employees. This transition has led to a rise in the need for electrical engineers specializing in digital technologies such as automation, artificial intelligence, and machine learning(Chang and Gomes). Many businesses have placed significant bets on 5G technology in response to the rising demand for secure and dependable communication networks. It is anticipated that the trend toward digitalization will persist long after the pandemic has ended as the world continues to rely on technology.
The interruption of international supply chains is another way the pandemic has impacted the electrical engineering sector. Many countries had to close their borders because of the pandemic, which caused supply delays and shortages. Many electrical engineering components are made in China and Taiwan, which means the industry relies heavily on international supply chains(Frieske and Stieler). Decreased productivity, higher costs, and postponed project delivery result from disrupting these supply chains. Many businesses have responded by establishing regional supply chains and forming partnerships with vendors in the same area. The current tendency toward using local resources and manufacturing is anticipated to last long after the epidemic has passed.
Even in the field of electrical engineering, the pandemic has highlighted the significance of resilience. The pandemic caused delays and increased costs by affecting project timelines, supply chains, and workforce availability. Businesses prepared for these changes had a distinct edge over their competitors. Companies are expected to invest in technologies that increase their resilience to disruptions due to the growing importance of resilience in the industry. Two examples are automation technologies, which allow for more efficient manufacturing and less reliance on human labor, or predictive analytics, which help foresee and manage disruptions before they happen.
The Impact of COVID-19 on the Electrical Engineering Industry
In electrical engineering, the pandemic has hastened the uptake of cutting-edge innovations. Companies have had to embrace new digital technologies to keep operations operating smoothly as remote employment has become the standard. As a result, resources have been redirected to developing IoT, AI, and automation tools. Thus, professionals with these skill sets are anticipated to be in high demand in electrical engineering. The epidemic has also highlighted the need to invest in digital infrastructure, such as high-speed internet and smart grid technologies, to facilitate remote work and improve energy efficiency. In sum, the electrical engineering field has felt the repercussions of the COVID-19 epidemic in both the immediate and long term. It is anticipated that the sector will recover. Still, to stay competitive, it must adapt to the new normal brought on by the epidemic and embrace new technology.
Four Likely Permanent Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Electrical Engineering Industry
- Remote Work Policies
Siemens is a good example of a corporation that has adopted rules allowing employees to work remotely. The business announced in July 2020 that it would allow its workers to work remotely for two or three days each week. The business said it had undertaken a poll in which it discovered that most of its workers favored a model that combined working from home with time spent in the office(Jha). Roland Busch, the firm’s CEO, noted that the epidemic had expedited the adoption of regulations for remote work, which he thinks will be a permanent shift in how work is done.
Despite this, electrical engineering has encountered several obstacles because of rules about remote work. One of the most significant difficulties is ensuring that workers have access to the tools and equipment needed to operate remotely. For instance, to carry out their duties, engineers may be required to use specialized software or gear that is not always easily accessible outside of the workplace. To guarantee that rules regarding remote work are successful, businesses must invest to ensure their workers have access to the appropriate tools and technology.
Keeping open lines of communication and fostering cooperation among team members is another problem brought up by regulations permitting remote work. When workers are dispersed over several locations, it may not be easy to guarantee everyone is on the same page and contributing to achieving the same objectives(Jha). It will be necessary for businesses to make investments in communication technologies and tactics to guarantee that their workers can successfully interact and keep a feeling of community and belonging in the workplace.
As a direct consequence of the pandemic, the field of electrical engineering has seen a substantial shift toward implementing remote work rules. Even though they come with many benefits, such as decreased overhead costs and increased productivity, they also come with several challenges, such as ensuring that employees have access to the necessary tools and equipment, maintaining communication, and working together among team members. Businesses must invest in methods and technologies to guarantee that their rules about remote work are successful and that their staff can work effectively and collaboratively from any place. This will need the companies to make such investments.
- Increased Demand for Automation and Robotics
The ability of automation and robotics to carry out jobs that are risky, time-consuming, or need a high degree of accuracy is among the most significant advantages offered by these fields. As a result of the epidemic, businesses have been forced to cut down on manual work and adhere to standards about social distancing (Coombs). This is becoming an increasingly important consideration. The advent of automation and robots has made it possible for businesses to go on with their operations without jeopardizing the welfare of their workforce. For instance, in the manufacturing business, robots may do operations like welding, painting, and assembling, which significantly lowers the need for human employees to be in close contact with one another. It is possible to lower the risk of infection for patients and healthcare staff by using robots in the healthcare business to conduct tasks such as disinfecting rooms, delivering medicine, and even performing procedures.
Productivity and efficiency can potentially increase thanks to automation and robots. Robots can work nonstop without pauses, rest, or sleep, enabling them to complete jobs at a pace that is far higher than that of humans. They also have a high degree of accuracy and precision, which lowers the possibility of making mistakes and increases the overall quality of their job. Automation and robots can reduce the time and resources needed to complete an activity, which may lead to cost savings for businesses.
Despite this, the rising need for automated systems and robots offers several issues for the sector. Ensuring that the technology is adequately integrated and used is one of the primary problems that must be overcome. Because of this, businesses need to invest in the education and professional development of their staff members to collaborate successfully with new technologies(Coombs). Also, businesses must ensure the technology is properly integrated into their systems and procedures, which may take time and effort. Also, businesses will need to examine the ethical and social consequences of automation and robots, such as the possible effect on employment and the displacement of employees. This is one example of an ethical and social implication.
As a result of the epidemic, there has been an upsurge in demand for automated systems and robots within the field of electrical engineering. The implementation and integration of these technologies, as well as the training and upskilling of employees, as well as ethical and social considerations, are all challenges that must be overcome to fully realize the numerous benefits these technologies offer, such as increased productivity, efficiency, and safety. Businesses that make significant investments in automation and robots and successfully handle these difficulties are likely to be better prepared to maintain the continuity of their businesses and achieve greater levels of success in the future.
- Digitalization of Operations
The use of Internet of Things (IoT) devices is essential to digitalizing processes in electrical engineering. IoT devices allow businesses to monitor and operate their equipment remotely, eliminating the need for on-site visits and significantly lowering the likelihood of infection. Devices connected to the internet of things also provide important data, which businesses can utilize to enhance their operations and save expenses(Ashima et al.). For instance, data collected from Internet of Things devices may be analyzed to determine which aspects of a process need to be improved, which maintenance schedules can be optimized, and which equipment failures can be anticipated before they occur.
The use of technology that creates digital twins is another domain in which digitalization has had a big influence. A digital twin is a virtual clone of a physical asset or system, enabling businesses to mimic and evaluate the performance of assets in a virtual environment. A digital twin may be created from any asset or system replicated in a virtual environment. The technology of the digital twin helps businesses improve their assets’ performance, lower their maintenance costs, and cut their downtime. For instance, digital twin technology may be used in the manufacturing industry to replicate and improve the effectiveness of production processes, therefore cutting down on waste and maximizing productivity.
The digitization of operations also gives new chances for businesses to provide value-added services to their clientele, which may be a significant competitive advantage(Ashima et al.). For instance, businesses may give predictive maintenance services to their clients by using data from the Internet of Things devices. This enables consumers to save downtime and enhance asset dependability. In addition, businesses may utilize data analytics to tailor solutions to meet the requirements and preferences of individual clients via the provision of personalized services.
In essence, the pandemic has sped up the process of digitalizing activities in electrical engineering. Devices connected to the internet of things (IoT), digital twin technologies, and data analytics have allowed businesses to enhance their operations, lower their expenses, and provide consumers with new services that add value to their purchases. The digitization of operations does, however, bring several obstacles, including the need for qualified staff and concerns associated with cybersecurity. To guarantee the efficient and risk-free use of digital technology in the future, businesses will have to make substantial investments in training their workforce and implementing stringent cybersecurity precautions.
- Emphasis on Cybersecurity
Schneider Electric is a good example of a corporation that has significantly emphasized cybersecurity during the epidemic. The organization has introduced a variety of different cybersecurity solutions to assist its clients in the management of cyber risks(VENDRAMIN). These solutions include cloud-based cybersecurity solutions, which contribute to protecting data and systems from various types of cyber threats. In addition, the business has created a variety of cybersecurity services, including vulnerability assessments, security audits, and penetration testing, to assist its clients in recognizing and mitigating the risks associated with cybersecurity.
Another illustration of this can be seen with the company ABB, which has introduced various cybersecurity solutions to defend vital infrastructure and industrial control systems from cyberattacks(Makrakis et al.). To assist its clients in recognizing and mitigating potential cybersecurity threats, the firm has created a variety of cybersecurity services. These services include cybersecurity assessments, penetration testing, and vulnerability management. Also, the firm has invested in the research and development of cybersecurity, where it has created new technologies and solutions to protect its clients from various cyber threats.
But cybersecurity is an issue for organizations of all sizes, not just big ones. Also vulnerable to cyberattacks are small and medium-sized businesses, generally known as SMEs. Hackers often target SMEs because they perceive these businesses as easy targets(Plachkinova and Knapp). As a direct consequence, small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) are expected to prioritize cybersecurity, making investments in additional, more robust security measures and providing workers with training on the most effective cybersecurity best practices.
The pandemic has brought to light the need for comprehensive cybersecurity measures to secure sensitive data and guarantee corporate operations’ continuation. It is expected that businesses will pay a greater focus on cybersecurity, investing in additional, more powerful security measures and providing personnel with training on the best practices for cybersecurity(Georgiadou et al.). The fact that significant firms like Schneider Electric and ABB are investing in cybersecurity solutions and services demonstrate that these companies are taking cybersecurity seriously and are concerned about the safety of their consumers.
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the electrical engineering industry, with significant changes expected to shape the industry’s future. The pandemic’s four most likely permanent effects on the industry are remote work policies, increased demand for automation and robotics, digitalization of operations, and emphasis on cybersecurity. Companies adapting to these changes will likely thrive in the post-pandemic era.
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