by Greg Harper
That might be a question you’ve asked yourself lately as the world moves in warp speed, adopting new technologies in manufacturing and supply chain. In case you’re new to the game, Industry 4.0 refers to the fourth generation of the Industrial Revolution – including the digital transformation of processes in manufacturing, production and related industries. Take a quick human capital inventory of your own team and ask yourself whether the right people are in place for the present and future.
There’s a misconception that organizations need to bring in a Silicon Valley-approved tech wizard to fully immerse their teams in this latest industrial revolution. While it’s sometimes the best method to achieve that goal, you might need a professional with a slightly different background – or perhaps you already have a team member who has what it takes.
Be sure to retain team members, especially more experienced pros, who have the knowledge to help your organization transition manual aspects of the shop floor to a more automated environment. When those individuals are identified, it’s imperative that your organization foster or sustain a culture of knowledge sharing before training gets underway. It’s not uncommon for a company to be overly reliant on a single team member simply because it has no mechanism in place to distribute that professional’s knowledge as it increases automation.
Process implementation requires organizational buy-in from the highest levels of senior leadership to the team members on the floor. Companies making a successful transition to Industry 4.0 ensure that accurate data consistently enters a shared digital platform. An organization can spend a small fortune adopting the most sophisticated system, but it won’t do much good if its team members aren’t using updated information in communication with one another.
This is why much of the retraining in organizations today revolves around the fusion of digital technologies with lean principles, according to professional services network Deloitte. Each organization needs access to experts – in house or outsourced – who can properly merge two sectors which traditionally have operated separately from each other: information technology and operational technology. Companies which do that successfully enjoy reduced costs, quick turnaround times, integrated supply chains and, most importantly, customer and supplier access to data to adjust in real time.
Even when organizations are able to retain and retrain capable team members, quite often they’ll need to bring in outside assistance to continue on their journeys. One underused way to do just that: interns and apprentices. Setting your organization up for success for generations to come means fueling it with budding professionals who can gain hands-on experience before transitioning to your team in a full-time capacity.
None of this is possible without effective senior leadership. If you’re seeking help from the outside, there are vital qualifications any such professional should have: digital fluency; an understanding of automation; comfort using data to drive decisions; and the wisdom and willingness to react accordingly.
Regardless of where your organization stands along the digital transformation path, positioning the right people and systems in the right places is an ongoing process. It’s a journey that never ends, so ensure you continue to crush the competition by regularly evaluating your talent and access to more of it.