The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has exposed many issues within the global value chains and caught many companies with their guard down during the early stages of their digital transformation. Several COVID-19 mitigation measures, such as travel restrictions, social distancing, and remote work were quickly introduced, and many manufacturing companies have struggled to keep their factories operational. As a result, smart technologies, such as artificial intelligence and wearables, have been rapidly deployed on the shop floor to mitigate the COVID-19 impact with the short-term objective of keeping the workforce safe and the facilities compliant with the requirements to remain open. The majority of these newly introduced and rapidly deployed smart systems carry a significant price tag. This paper explores the impacts of this rapid adoption of smart technologies with regard to the workforce’s role in smart manufacturing systems during and post–COVID-19. Furthermore, we attempt to provide initial insights to the question: “What is the long-term impact and value of these rapidly deployed and sophisticated smart technologies in the post–COVID-19 Smart Manufacturing Systems?”
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