Are you ready for the next revolution? Prepare your people for the Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0 is here now and threatening to disrupt your business. It’s not too late to prepare; start with your people and up-skill them for an integrated, automated manufacturing supply chain.

You’ve probably heard the term “Industry 4.0” bandied about – the fourth industrial revolution, the next thing you need to worry about. An automated, integrated and augmented smart factory sounds great in practice, but what does it mean for your people, your bottom line and the future of your business?

One of the biggest fears about Industry 4.0 is the impact it will have on your workforce; if machines are supplementing your people, that’s great for the bottom line, but what about the uncertainty around job security and the skills that will be needed for the future? The jobs most at risk are simple, repetitive tasks like pick-and-pack and clerical or admin roles.

As the research director for the service robotics market at IDC, John Santagate reminds us,

“Just because you can automate something, it doesn’t mean you should”.

Creative and time sensitive decisions will still fall to your people and currently, robots aren’t well equipped to do things like climb stairs or cope with uneven surfaces.

One thing is certain: the potential of Industry 4.0 is under-realised in Australian industry. If harnessed correctly, there is the possibility of improving operations, maximising the potential of your people, and achieving better collaboration across the supply chain.

You will need to create certainty within your teams that their jobs are secure and there will be a future for them with your company, but potentially in a different role. Take the time to educate them with skills that can be developed alongside technology.

And believe it or not, but jobs are increasing – Amazon grew their warehouse workforce with over 100,000 employees in 2017 and followed with similar increases yearly. Utilise the power of your workforce by helping them learn how to operate new technology and maintain it so they can grow with your business as technology becomes more integrated.

Identify where your organisation is lacking in skills and make it part of your five-year plan to recruit in those areas, or help your existing employees up-skill. The Australian Industry Group found in a 2018 report that 75 per cent of Australian organisations face skill shortages when recruiting for automation, big data and AI. There’s a shortage of graduates in this area, so you may need consider executive programs to support the growth of your people in these areas.

Another key skill to maximise the opportunity of Industry 4.0 is the ability of your people to move beyond the technical skills of their day-to-day jobs. Deloitte in a report published in May 2017 identified that 75 per cent of future jobs will require soft skills such as teamwork, critical thinking, curiosity, adaptability, and persistence. There’s no degree for creative problem solving, so this is something you will need to support your people with; learning on the job or going to training and short courses to help them upskill.

And this is just the people side of the fourth industrial revolution. Your people are going to be the best return on your investment, but what about technological investment and getting your head around machine learning, AI, automation, and all the other buzzwords?

To help you navigate the complex world of the next industrial revolution and what it means for your manufacturing supply chain, the ASCI2019 conference on September 17 to 19 brings together leaders in the Industry 4.0 movement and the innovators who are pathing the way to the future supply chain. Business managers will have the opportunity to fully customise your own agenda with two days of high-quality content from more than 60 speakers.