Industry 4.0

How can you prepare your workforce for the future?

 We are not sure anyone can honestly answer that question!

Who could have predicted the speed of technological change that has happened in the last 15 – 20 years when most of the current industry leaders were studying for their futures?

The last 5 years have seen the advent of Industry 4.0 that has been termed the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This builds on the Third Industrial Revolution which was represented by the digital revolution, and the Fourth is marked by emerging technology breakthroughs in a number of fields, including robotics, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, quantum computing, biotechnology, The Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing and autonomous vehicles.

At the most basic of levels many homes now have active remote control of facilities and Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Dot will be making many a Christmas wish list this year. These latest home innovations will eventually change how we interact with intelligent data and it isn’t hard to see how we could develop a reliance on this new technology.

Predicting trends and managing production and dispatch amongst other things, will all be easier as this never before captured data feeds into the supply chain in a way that it can be successfully managed.

And the bigger picture is even more exciting!

So why is Industry 4.0 such a game changer?

From the originally predicted sorrows of automation in the 70s showing many production lines operated only my robots, it is clear that vision has moved on. The German government’s Industry 4.0 strategy has moved towards the strong customisation of products in a highly flexible mass-production setting.  This means that the world of production will become more and more networked until everything is interlinked. Up to now, networks and processes have traditionally been limited to one factory but with Industry 4.0, these boundaries can be broken.

Imagine the economies of scale and the shared knowledge larger networks will offer.

Utilising data to improve performance at least-required-cost will allow factories to increase their profits as well as their service and quality. Utilising data to better understand operating conditions, detecting and predicting faults and failures and production effectiveness will generate long-term benefits.

In an Industry 4.0 scenario, systems will be able to grow and become self-aware, which will provide management with more insight on the status of the factory. Communication between various componentry will allow factory management to trigger required maintenance at the best possible time to give near-zero downtime.

Amongst all this development the implications for workforce training and development are considerable. Duties and responsibilities of almost every occupation in manufacturing will be affected. Everyone’s job is going to change, because workflow is going to change.

In a world of competing theories about the job-creating and job-destroying potential of this technology the fact that no one knows what will happen is in itself informative. The lack of clarity at this point tells us that the future requires workers to train to be more flexible. To state the obvious – it has never been easier to find training that is quickly out-of-date and never has ‘life-long learning’ resonated more. In order to keep up with the phenomenal growth in this technology, flexibility, a strong willingness to embrace change and grow with the future will be a must. Successful players will be those that can see the changes coming and keep learning; the qualifications needed for the future are not yet being taught, instead they are being developed; keeping an open enquiring mind is going to be crucial.

The problem solvers of today will be the top future employees of tomorrow; the key is in recognising that we haven’t begun to imagine just how far this technology will take us and what skills we are going to have to develop to take us there.

One thing you can be certain of however is that whatever the future brings, you can be sure that Horwood Kohler will be keeping a close eye on the skills needed and identifying the best and brightest candidates to be your future star employees of tomorrow.

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