Digitalisation in the manufacturing sector is not a new topic. Many medium-sized companies have already gained experience with Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM). Almost all companies already work with ERP systems that digitally map all processes in the company. In addition, there are now Big Data and platform technologies.
However, it is also a fact that some SMEs lack the financial resources to implement Industry 4.0 consistently. Many of the companies are family businesses that feel committed to their employees and shy away from job losses. At the same time, we are seeing an increasing shortage of skilled workers, a trend that plays into the hands of digitalisation.
Practice shows that the pace of digitalisation in industry varies greatly. Roughly speaking, I observe that large companies are pressing ahead, developing a digitalisation strategy and implementing it consistently. This is where the transformation of work is most evident. Many medium-sized companies are selectively pushing ahead with digitalisation, focusing on technological changes. Existing processes are mostly maintained, a change in work rarely takes place. In my view, valuable and important opportunities are being wasted in this way.
Work in industry will change – also and especially in medium-sized companies. Companies that quickly and consistently rely on digitalisation need more highly qualified skilled personnel. Machines and robots take over standardised tasks, jobs are lost. This is because the existing employees are mostly unable to perform the tasks that are now required, despite all the qualifications and further training. In addition, there is new potential for conflict with employees when assistance systems are introduced that are supposed to reduce sources of error and/or increase the speed of work. The keyword here is the “transparent employee”.
Depending on the industry and product, digitalisation and automation can also lead to a dwindling of the middle qualification level. In these companies, in addition to highly qualified activities, there are almost only simple routine activities that are paid so favourably that possible automation potentials do not need to be fully exploited.
Man – machine
The Bermuda Triangle of digitalisation and automation moves between the poles of people, technology and organisation. External consulting can support SMEs in developing ideas for viable solutions and a consistent implementation strategy together with all parties involved.
Among other things, it is necessary to,
- Change organisational and management structures, from more agility to a complete redesign,
- Retain experiential knowledge,
- introduce new forms of project work
- promote new competences, responsibilities and soft skills (e.g. improving resilience in the face of stress) through further training,
- if necessary, outsourcing one or the other to specialised companies.
I would be happy to support you on this path. A phone call or an email is all it takes. I look forward to hearing from you.