Talent Accelerates a Digital Transformation
Jeannine Kunz, Vice President, Tooling U-SME on
February 12, 2019
According to SME’s Manufacturing in the New Industry 4.0 Era Survey,
manufacturers say that two top barriers preventing smart technology are
Lack of corporate leadership to lead and plan a smart manufacturing
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
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
“Smart Manufacturing: Building Talent to Accelerate a Digital
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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