Don’t Fear What’s Ahead for Smart Workforce

Posted By: John Hindman, Director of Learning Services, Tooling U-SME on January 22, 2019

Don't Fear What's Ahead for Smart Workforce

As the Smart Manufacturing revolution transforms the industry, some are concerned that technology will end up trumping human capital. That is unlikely to happen and here’s why.

Technology, including artificial intelligence, robotics, Internet of Things (IoT), is already changing how business is done. Yet with all these advancements, people are still a critical piece of our collective success in the manufacturing industry.

The technology is not about replacing people. Instead, it will provide the opportunity for workers to move into more value-added roles.

A recent paper from the World Economic Forum and McKinsey & Company, “ Fourth Industrial Revolution: Beacons of Technology and Innovation in Manufacturing, identifies top-performing factories which they designate as “lighthouses.” These are 16 of the world’s most advanced sites implementing technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, selected from a survey of over 1,000 manufacturing sites globally.

These lighthouse factories (from companies such as Johnson & Johnson DePuy Synthes, BMW Group, and Sandvik) are well into their Fourth Industrial Revolution journey, adopting technology at scale, and are seeing significant financial and operational benefits.

In a recent blog post about the paper, the McKinsey team writes that these companies demonstrate “how forward-thinking engagement of technology can create a better, cleaner world through new levels of efficiency in manufacturing.”

That is certainly aspirational! Now see what they say about the effect on the workforce: “Likewise, they [lighthouses] illustrate how Fourth Industrial Technology at scale can transform the nature of work itself by upskilling and engaging human workers with minimal displacement.”

As I travel around the country, I see the same thing. I am having more and more conversations with manufacturers about developing a vibrant smart workforce. Partnering with these companies, we are actively identifying job roles, building competencies, and defining a new organizational chart.

Early adopters are taking a leadership role by creating and implementing a talent strategy to train team members on the integration and use of technology throughout the supply chain. And all of this is tied directly to business goals.

Technology can bring your teams exciting new opportunities and clear career pathways. Fortunately, one of the best recruiting tools is a standardized learning and development program. Focusing on your people will help differentiate your company.

As the McKinsey paper notes, lighthouses emit “powerful light that pierces fog and darkness.” These best-in-class companies can serve as excellent examples to help us develop the next generation of manufacturing workers while navigating the new world of Smart Manufacturing, aka the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Tags: "artificial intelligence", "BMW Group", "Fourth Industrial Revolution", "Fourth Industrial Revolution: Beacons of Technology and Innovation in Manufacturing", "Internet of Things", IoT, "Johnson & Johnson DePuy Synthes", manufacturing, "McKinsey & Company", robotics, "Sandvik training and development", "Smart Manufacturing", technology, "Tooling U-SME", workforce, "World Economic Forum"