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Monday, November 14 2022

Preparing Your Employees for Industry 4.0

manufacturing operations Industry 4.0

Change is scary for many people, especially in their work environment. When a company decides to implement new technology, employees might worry how it will impact them. How much of their job will change? Are they in danger of losing their job? Will they have to learn how to use the technology? There are ways to prepare your employees to embrace new technologies.

  • Include and empower your employees early. Employees should be included from the earliest stage of your Industry 4.0 journey. Front-line workers and managers are responsible for performing the work. They have an important perspective and can provide a wealth of information about which processes work well, where bottlenecks exist, and where there are areas for improvement. Their early involvement ensures that the new, automated process builds on the success of the older, manual process while improving deficiencies. Small details like occasional process inconsistencies can throw a big wrench in an Industry 4.0 project. The team members who were in charge of the manual process will help head those issues off at the pass.
  • Get ahead of employee anxiety. When employees are involved in the process, they are more open to change. They’ll better understand why change is needed and how it will help them (and the company) improve. It’s important to tell your employees that the new technology won’t replace them, but that it may change the nature of their work. According to a WEF report, “Fewer than 5% of occupations consist of activities that are 100% automatable with today’s technology, while 62% of occupations have at least 30% of automatable tasks.”
  • Engage employees with skills development. Gallop’s “State of the American Workplace” reports that only 25% of manufacturing employees feel engaged. Giving your workers opportunities to learn new skills will help them become more engaged. The Society for Human Resource Management believes that investing in employees can set you up for success and ultimately save you money. Developing a strong employee development program that grows their skills will help build loyalty – and help you retain your best workers.
  • Identify an Industry 4.0 champion at your company. Implementation is just the first step. The work really begins when your team starts using the new technology. To ensure rapid ROI and ongoing success, identify an in-house champion who will work alongside the implementation team and learn the system. Make sure this person has cross-departmental authority and can broker engineering and production cooperation, which will be critical to long-term success.
  • Let go of old processes. Introducing a new technology into your facility is a big change. There are lots of variables to any project of any scale. Don’t complicate the situation by keeping the old process in place. Old and new processes running in tandem don’t work. For example, if you purchase a new ERP system to manage your production schedule, then get rid of the old production schedule spreadsheet. Spend time up front inputting data and preparing so you only use the new system moving forward.
  • Embrace a new mindset. Adopting Industry 4.0 technologies requires a new mindset. These technologies don’t simply improve an existing process. They create a completely new process. This can be intimidating for employees at all levels, but your project’s success requires that they all buy into this new mindset.

Want to learn more about Industry 4.0 technologies?

Visit our Digital Manufacturing & Technology Center (DMTC) page to discover all of the ways Purdue MEP can help!


Source: Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) NIST

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