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Why Industry 4.0 Represents the Future of Manufacturing

Posted by Carlin Culbertson on Dec 21, 2021 9:36:07 AM

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Recent technological and digital advances are fueling the rise of smart, automated manufacturing facilities. Known as Industry 4.0, these advances represent the future of manufacturing and industry.

Also referred to as the fourth industrial revolution, Industry 4.0 is causing massive disruption to the manufacturing industry and its workforce. Digital transformation of the industrial and production environment lies at the heart of Industry 4.0, which represents a new stage in the organization of the industrial value chain.

Origin of Industry 4.0 - History of Industrial Revolutions

The First Industrial Revolution resulted in large-scale production of goods through the use of water, coal and steam power. The Second Industrial Revolution came about through the invention of electricity and development of mass production through assembly lines. And the Third Industrial Revolution resulted from the development of computers and massive gains in the processing and sharing of information that emerged.

Now, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is centered on the merging of human and machine capabilities. Through the use of new technologies – such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning), the internet of things (IoT), augmented reality (AR), robotics (including industrial robots, collaborative robots and autonomous robots), additive manufacturing, data analytics, predictive modeling, cloud computing, etc. – manufacturing is being transformed into a highly connected, intelligent, and more productive industry.

Facets of Industry 4.0 - Skilled Workers Are in Short Supply

The skilled labor gap is not a new concept to today’s manufacturers – this has been a challenge for quite some time. However, as manufacturing evolves and becomes more automated and digital, the labor gap for these tech-savvy jobs will likely be even more pronounced.

Manufacturing already suffers from a reputational bias — many high school and college students consider it unsafe or dirty. Attracting and retaining the best and brightest talent in these new areas will become even more competitive.

There are two primary ways manufacturers are bridging the labor gap:

    • Hiring from the outside. Many manufacturers are building relationships with academic institutions (local high schools, community colleges, trade schools and universities) in order to promote manufacturing and develop internships and apprentice programs that generate a pool of qualified candidates with these new skills.
    • Training and promoting from within. Other manufacturers are developing or outsourcing training programs for their current workers in order to provide them with the new skills needed for the future — whether teaching them how to manage automated processes or take on creative jobs that are less likely to be replaced through automation. These companies understand that Industry 4.0 requires not just a major investment in new technologies, but also a major investment in their people.

Most manufacturers will find that they need to undertake a workforce strategy that combines hiring from the outside and training and promoting from within.

Now is the Time to Implement Effective Change Management

As factories change and adapt to Industry 4.0, so must their workforces. As Baby Boomers continue to retire, the manufacturing workforce will naturally become younger and more tech savvy. However, companies will need to implement effective change management throughout the organization to educate, train and upskill workers for the high-tech profession manufacturing is becoming. Contact us to learn more.

Carlin Culbertson

Carlin Culbertson

With over 15 years in public accounting, Carlin has extensive auditing experience serving a wide variety of clients in various industries, including construction, manufacturing, mining, biotechnology and distribution.

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