Organizations today are facing major disruption. Supporting employees and partners, reaching new customers, and providing innovative new products and services are only a few challenges they are facing. Many organizations are starting to transform in one way or another, and many more are currently on their way. These transformations have led to a new wave of work - one focused on emerging technology and automation.
McKinsey reports that from 39 to 58 percent of employees in labor-intensive markets, such as manufacturing, may see job structure changes due to automation. That doesn’t mean that automation will replace people - it will focus on productivity, consistency, and efficiency. In the manufacturing industry, automation allows staff to focus on the bigger picture rather than repetitive tasks. It allows for more time and energy to focus on innovation.
With the digitization of many processes, manufacturing organizations now have a huge opportunity to create a wide-scale transformation that allows for not only more innovation, but also data-driven decisions, upskilling and reskilling, retainment of talent, increased productivity, and improved workplace safety.
In any industry, this is more than a quick transformation. Any change requires a clear organizational strategy, especially one of this magnitude. The first step should be defining the needs for data collection, resources, and training to upskill those interacting with the new technologies
Introducing the future of industrial work
IoT bridges the gap between industry, Information Technology (IT), and Operational Technology (OT). Sound complicated? Have no fear - we’ll break it down for you.
To understand IIoT, you must understand IoT (the Internet of Things). IoT is a network of intelligent devices, computers, mobiles, and applications that are connected to the internet. It collects a large amount of data, stores and processes it in the cloud, and shares it with the end user.
IIoT (the Industrial Internet of Things) is a subset of IoT that specifically refers to industrial automation. IIoT connects automation devices such as sensors, actuators, and PLCs (programmable logic controllers) to the Internet and to each other.
Information technology and operational technology
IT (Information Technology) refers to the enterprise system that stores, processes, and delivers data to business management. OT (Operational Technology) refers to the operation of physical processes (machines, drives, etc.) and industrial control systems.
Let’s try that again.
Bringing it all together
IIoT bridges the gap between Industry, Information Technology (IT), and Operational Technology (OT) to create a seamless intelligence transfer in manufacturing and warehouse operations. Intertwining the accessibility of data and highly intelligent digital tools provides greater insight into what’s needed to make smarter and more efficient decisions.
This new shift in industrial automation has a significant impact on the global economy that supports not only economic growth, but also the professional growth of the global workforce. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), nearly 30% of data will be transmitted in real-time by 2025. Thanks to the emergence and integration of IoT devices and IIoT transformations, a significant amount of this cloud data will be attributed to industrial and commercial usage. As a result, the information collected can be fine-tuned and analyzed, creating a seamless transfer of machines, systems, people, and operational processes.
Components of IIoT:
Industry 4.0 is dependent on four factors that can work with any number of technologies to create a more connected and efficient workforce. These intelligent assets can be used in personalized approaches and a dynamic strategy to help transform your organization and support individuals to develop their skillsets alongside digital transformation.
The four components of IIoT are:
- Intelligent assets: the machines, technology, applications, and devices that support communications and data transfer
- Data communications: network technology, WiFi, and cloud infrastructure
- Process analytics, as well as the ability to interpret and utilize data
- The people and teams that make digital transformations possible
IIoT enables faster decision-making. It connects people, devices, and applications so they can interact with increased reliability and better operational efficiency. It promotes better working conditions and extends machine life. IIoT can also optimize the use of assets and predict points of failure.
Advantages of IIoT:
- Predictive Maintenance: Utilizing sensors and data, IIoT enables the identification of patterns and prediction of issues before they happen, leading to regular maintenance, systems optimization, and reliability in operations.
- Process Improvement and Insights: Wearables, sensors, and radio-frequency identification tags (RFID) share data about item location, status, movement, and more. With real-time inventory, progress, and timing data, IIoT optimizes the supply chain and reduces costs.
- Quality Control: Machine-equipped sensors monitor the quality of materials, look for defects, analyze equipment performance, and measure and test the finished product. If a problem occurs in the assembly line, it can be addressed immediately.
- Efficiency: Automated machinery can work more efficiently and accurately. With streamlined functions and constant performance monitoring, IIoT-enabled data systems improve operating efficiencies.
- Safety: Integrated safety systems monitor workers on the floor, line, and distribution. If there is an accident, operations are halted immediately and facility alerts occur. The data can be used to prevent a repeat incident in the future. Wearables can also use wearables to alert employees to unsafe safety procedures.
Upskilling is vital, not voluntary
The need for learning and development in manufacturing has never been more urgent. In order to remain competitive in the shifting market, fueled by supply chain challenges, the need for both streamlined processes and skill growth is imperative. As the need for manual labor may decline, there is a great need for knowledge in high-level cognitive skills, social and emotional skills, and technological skills.
The World Economic Forum reports that by 2025, 54% of employees will require upskilling or reskilling to close the skills gap due to automation, robotics, and the growing use of artificial intelligence. Digital transformation is no small feat and should be considered as part of a holistic approach to any organization’s evolving strategy.
A 2021 report revealed that 94% of business leaders expect employees to pick up new skills on the job, including training for disruptive technologies (Whiting, 2021). Upskilling and reskilling not only allow your team to grow with technological upgrades, but also help deliver on the overall ROI of our efforts. In many cases, employees may not be familiar with new technologies or will require additional training in order to confidently navigate their roles around the use of intelligent devices, applications, and processes.
There are many ways that employers can help provide newfound skills and training for their teams in the wake of digital transformation, including virtual instructor-led training (VILT), in-person instructor-led training, hybrid training approaches, job aids, and e-learning modules that help to engage, support, and grow the overall knowledge base of teams.
Success starts with strategy
Digibee’s 2022 State of the Enterprise Integration report reveals that 93% of IT leaders in finance, manufacturing, and retail believe that digital enterprise integration is a business initiative, yet only 7% have an established strategy to accomplish integration.
Managers can focus on clear and frequent communication of the organization’s core values, mission, and purpose. Organizations become places where employee development is a reality through upskilling, reskilling, career development, and workplace training. We are on the precipice of technological integration, accelerating career development.
Your organization’s digital strategy won’t be the same as your competitor’s - there is no secret formula that creates a foolproof, universal resolution. Your strategy should take great consideration of the organizational culture, transformational tools, and the needs of your team(s).
A customized approach not only helps to craft an individualized digital solution that helps integrate the best of IIoT, but also ensures that organizations have the support, strategy, and training necessary to help develop their teams alongside their new processes so that everyone performs at their true potential.
How we interact with technology is just as important as the way that we utilize the tools at our disposal. Leaders want to ensure that the return on investment With upgrades in technology, it’s important to consider the culture of learning within your organization. Do people understand the reason behind your digital transformation? Do they feel uncertainty, confusion, or excitement about the changes ahead?
With great potential on the horizon, we have the power to create a unified workforce that supports, grows, and optimizes our potential in the ever-shifting manufacturing landscape with the use of emerging technologies. No matter what our unique use of these technologies may be, it is important that we have a strategic approach that allows us to define and work towards our goals so that our people, processes, and performance are optimized.
Connecting Human Performance with Allen Interactions
Learning technology and learning are not two separate playing fields. Together, we can craft a strategy that makes the most of your digital transformation and optimizes the people, processes, and performance that you need to grow your organization and embrace innovation and drive your competitive edge.