Talent Accelerates a Digital Transformation

Posted By: Jeannine Kunz, Vice President, Tooling U-SME on February 12, 2019

Smart Manufacturing: Building Talent to Accelerate a Digital
        Transformation.

According to SME’s Manufacturing in the New Industry 4.0 Era Survey, manufacturers say that two top barriers preventing smart technology are people related:

  • Lack of corporate leadership to lead and plan a smart manufacturing strategy
  • Lack of skill set to manage implementation

A quarter (25%) of companies consider lack of corporate leadership to lead and plan a smart manufacturing strategy a primary barrier that prevents or slows the adoption of digital technologies.

Smart starts at the top. Just as leadership commitment is essential for implementing digital transformation, senior management must develop a learning culture, providing the vision — and support for — a workforce development plan to sustain the new initiative.

In other words, leadership must understand the benefits of training, and invest time and resources to schedule it.

Steven Jones, Technical Material and Process Consultant, Global Technical Services & Manufacturing Engineering, Steelcase, agrees. “The leadership within Steelcase is very knowledgeable and aware of what’s happening right now,” he said. “As a result, they have made it obvious that it’s very important for the organization to manage its way through this digital transformation time period.”

Despite being a 100-year-old company, Steelcase, the largest office furniture manufacturer in the world, now has an initiative to digitally transform its manufacturing operations around the world.

A second barrier cited by manufacturers (28%) was lack of skill set to oversee and manage implementation.

Workers of all levels are now required to have new skill sets that cover both operations and IT. Are your teams up-to-speed on skills like instrumentation, data analytics, and systems engineering practices?

To meet these needs, forward-thinking manufacturers are investing in training programs and using competency models to build the capabilities they require to remain competitive.

It starts with putting a system in place to codify knowledge and skills required for job roles, aligned with training curriculum, and tied to business goals.

For Arizona-based LAI International, a premier provider of highly-engineered, mission-critical components, smart manufacturing started off as a natural extension of business as usual. To begin with, they developed a beta test case and rolled it out across one line.

After some initial resistance to change from his teams, Patrick J. “P.J.” Gruetzmacher, Chief Executive Officer and President, LAI, decided to “burn the bridge behind us.”

LAI literally ended the old system by flipping the switch. “We stuck to our guns and we made sure we put a bunch of resources out on the factory floor, and we trained, trained and trained,” said Gruetzmacher. Success followed.

It’s important to know that early adopters are not letting those challenges stop them. They have already moved forward, transforming their operations, by investing in technology, equipment and people.

With nearly half (47%) of manufacturers planning to invest in digital technology solutions in the next 24 months — now is the time to determine needed competencies, ramp up recruiting, and bolster training of both new hires and incumbent workers.

To learn more about the Steelcase and LAI success stories, and find proven strategies for building a smart workforce, download our complimentary report, “Smart Manufacturing: Building Talent to Accelerate a Digital Transformation.”

We know it is hard, but implementing a strategy to maximize technologies and people sets organizations apart from their competition. It’s worth the investment, and our experts are here to help.



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