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Understanding the Impacts of Industry 4.0 on Manufacturing Organizations & Workers

The manufacturing industry in North America is undergoing its fourth evolution into a high-technology, digitalized, and data-driven industry. This Industry 4.0 period began long before the COVID-19 pandemic affected global society but has been accelerated in response to many of the challenges associated with it. In this report, we examine and explore the current manufacturing industry in North America and the challenges and opportunities it faces as adoption of Industry 4.0 thinking, tools, standards, and processes becomes more widespread.

Included in the Report


Workforce Dynamics & Industry Trends

Overview of the North American manufacturing industry in its current state in terms of three main elements pertaining to workforce dynamics, production efficiency, and inter-organizational volatility highlighting the relative stability of employment in the manufacturing industry. 


Estimates suggest the manufacturing industry needs to prepare for double-digit output growth within the next 10 years while simultaneously managing a projected shortfall in available, interested, and highly skilled emerging talent. There are real workforce-related challenges facing the current manufacturing industry and these challenges cannot all be addressed with the technological elements of Industry 4.0.


Industry 4.0 Impact on the Worker

The industry-changing impacts of Industry 4.0 advancements can only be fully realized when there are corresponding changes in the manufacturing workforce. In general, these impacts are likely to be seen and experienced in terms of changes to the design of manufacturing work, the manufacturing worker experience, critical worker knowledge, skill, ability, and competency requirements, and numerous other talent management considerations involving talent acquisition, retention, and training/development needs. The positive impacts of Industry 4.0 technologies on manufacturing will only be realized if the existing workforce can be reskilled and retained, and if the size and training of the emergent workforce is also tuned to meet the new demands and respond well to the new opportunities presented by Industry 4.0.

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Achieving Industry 4.0 Organizational Success

Shifting attention to why and how Industry 4.0 makes “smart manufacturing” possible, we examine the evolution of manufacturing from Industry 1.0 to the anticipated Industry 5.0 and the ways in which Industry 4.0 is affecting manufacturing organizations of all forms. The digitalization and associated technologies of Industry 4.0 will positively affect design and manufacturing processes, and ultimately increase productivity and efficiency for organizations that are able to make this transition.  The core Industry 4.0 elements that make “smart factories” possible can change the very nature of how manufacturing companies communicate with and meet the needs of their customers.  Explore the anticipated return on investment associated with taking steps to prepare for and address the workforce-related impacts of Industry 4.0, and important future considerations that will hopefully guide manufacturing organization leaders to make better decisions in their own organizations.

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Get Access to Live Event Recordings

Visit our PEAK Workforce Training Center to view all recorded sessions and presentation slides from the Transformation of Manufacturing live event.


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Former Executive Director, Smart Factory Institute
Peak Performance Inc.

President & CEO, Manufacturing Consultant
Peak Performance Inc.

UC Foundation Professor of Psychology
University of Tennessee Chattanooga

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