Written by Denise Rice. Denise is the CEO of Peak Performance and the Manufacturing Consultant to the Tennessee Manufacturers Association.She is a former plant manager with nearly 30 years of experience in the manufacturing industry.
It’s a fact that automation will assume more of today's tasks changing manufacturing jobs in all areas, meaning we must redefine labor within in the workplace. It is critical that leaders are responsive to the changes from I4.0 by taking an active role in supporting their existing workforces.
Organizational Readiness. Preparing your workforce for the changes that technology is going to bring is crucial. Employees will feel that their livelihood is threaten by technology. The job that they were hired to do is not being done with automation. Including people in the change can help to make them feel that they have a stake in the changes. It is important for leadership to create a culture of continuous improvement, acknowledging that technology will reshape the way work is done but will not replace individuals. Investing in training is the single best way to offset discomfort over the longer term. If people understand that their management is willing to invest in their future, they’ll be happier to come along for the ride.
Cyber Security. If you don’t have a Cyber Security policy, you need one before investing in Industry 4.0 technology. One of the big advantages of I4.0 is the ability to share data in real-time, even with third party suppliers and administrators. With that sharing comes a need to ensure that your data is secure. Cybersecurity is a core pillar when it comes to Industry 4.0, with cloud-based data storage, management and wireless connectivity. Getting that set up from the beginning will ensure that you don’t have future breaches.
Predictive Maintenance. Why Maintenance as one of the first areas? Because it’s usually one of the largest cost centers and most resource constrained. Improvements here can yield large returns. Before Industry 4.0 and lack of machine connectivity, big data and cloud-based analytics, maintenance was by default reactive. There was some ability to plan maintenance, but the typical plan was to wait for failure before fixing a problem. With solid data analysis, manufacturers can leverage Industry 4.0 to not only predict patterns and trends for the purposes of scheduling maintenance and increasing Overall Equipment Efficiency, but can also reach a stage of autonomous detection, self-correction or repair by machines.
Working with companies that are well versed and experienced in managing the change from traditional manufacturing practices to Industrial IoT and Industry 4.0 concepts is essential to a smooth transition, at all levels of the organization. Make sure you have the support you need to qualify your employees and prepare your company for the challenges of digital production.