By Manuel Sandoval Ríos, CEO of ProMX
In my previous essay, I spoke about how the COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating processes like digitalization and blockchain, and how a coordinated network of experts can greatly facilitate our transition toward a shared vision of the future. REDi-Mx is a network that promotes cooperation between the different actors involved—government, industry, academia and society—, with a view to designing a comprehensive strategy that addresses the pandemic in an orderly fashion. The challenge facing our nation comes down to cooperation and coordination, and the role of REDi-Mx is to focus on actions that add value to, articulate and complement the tasks and goals of others.
On the international front, we have seen that the practices of South Korea appear to have yielded the best results and can serve us as a model. Via ProMX’s offices, we requested the support of Korea’s open innovation networks and together developed a manual of recommendations for local governments that will be distributed in Spanish-speaking countries.
Likewise, we have identified the need to coordinate groups of experts in advanced data analysis and artificial intelligence for the application of predictive modeling techniques that can provide relevant information for decision-making purposes. It would also be advisable to create an open data site that provides relevant data for a real-time analysis of the status of the pandemic, while guaranteeing the privacy of citizens’ information. This idea of this site would be to gather as much information as possible from applications and platforms, companies, civil society, the health sector and government without infringing data rights,
It is important we coordinate actions. For example, diagnosis and measuring apps are laudable efforts, but they would acquire a lot more value if the data obtained were shared on a common database. The analysis of this information by experts could facilitate triage and treatment strategies.
Shortages of personal protection equipment are common knowledge, but what the public is perhaps not aware of are the titanic and altruistic efforts of the Makers and Fablabs networks in Mexico to come up with solutions, and the contribution of large corporations to these efforts. Once again, coordination is essential. We need to pair capacities with needs and decide on viable designs that can be mass manufactured. Another central task is to identify critical components and their availability. This is not the time for waste. We cannot afford to leave hundreds or thousands of ventilators half-manufactured and unusable because they’re missing valves, sensors or other components, or worse yet, stockpile finished ventilators due to a lack of hospital beds or trained technicians.
As part of our efforts, we have teamed up with Project N95, a marketplace for health sector suppliers and users, whom we aim to connect directly, thereby eliminating middlemen and speculation. We need to define priorities for the use of medical supplies and make projections as to needs and supply programs. There is no way to justify the use of top quality surgical supplies for low-risk patients, while medical personnel are forced to use equipment of dubious quality.
To improve the efficiency of production processes and associated logistics, we need to synchronize supply chains and the health system, so that production orders can be issued based on projected needs and suppliers coordinated accordingly. This is where Industry 4.0 technologies come into play and where Mexico’s companies have the opportunity to showcase their world-class manufacturing capacities.
In the case of finished products, we will need to develop smart distribution and last-mile delivery systems in coordination with the supply chains of companies that have the capacity to reach the farthest-flung corner of the country.
In the health sector, traceability is central, from manufacturing inputs to finished equipment, from the moment patients are admitted until they are discharged and all the procedures performed on them in the interim. All this structured information is the basis for decision making and is our contribution as a nation to knowledge of this disease and its treatment. It is information that should be distributed globally, so we can create a memory bank—the COVID19 Resource Center—to spread knowledge of the virus and its treatment, best practices and errors.
From an economic standpoint, during the actual emergency our goal should be to provide companies with the tools they need to continue operating in this new environment. The use of digital tools to complete tasks and processes, smart contracts and teleworking are just some of the solutions that need to be implemented in the coming days. In coordination with the IT industry, our network has come up with a set of digital transformation solutions and proposals that are available to Mexican companies free of charge and for an unlimited period to help them ride out the crisis.
Once we have dealt with the health emergency, Mexico needs to rapidly switch into reactivation gear. The new post-COVID19 global economic structure will open up unsuspected opportunities, but now is the time to start defining domestic and international strategies for the country’s enterprises and regions. Companies, clusters and regions should be looking to create business models that give them a foothold in these new value chains.
COVID19 has plunged us into a wartime economy, and while it is a lightening (blitzkrieg) event, it has the same disruptive impact as a full-fledged war—and the potential to produce the same positive outcomes as postwar, provided we rapidly enter reconstruction mode. Most importantly of all, we need to tear down old models and paradigms and use what we have learned to empower a more digital, more collaborative country that isn’t afraid of technology and that is capable of effectively joining new value networks and turning the economy into a source of wellbeing for its citizens.
What we need is an Economic Reactivation Roadmap, a collective vision of the direction we want to take as a nation. Hopefully, the use of technology to fight the pandemic and the rapid reconversion of large portions of the heath sector to 4.0 will serve as an incentive to companies to adopt these platforms and develop 4.0 innovation ecosystems.
These are just some of the issues that will be analyzed in-depth at Industrial Transformation Mexico 2020 (www.industrialtransformation.mx), the first Hannover Messe in Latin America and the leading Industry 4.0 tradeshow in the region, scheduled to take place on October 7-9 at Poliforum León, Guanajuato.