Whether it’s called Industry 4.0, smart factory or Manufacturing 4.0, the new era of industrial transformation is upon us and many entrepreneurs are jumping feet first into this project to increase their competitiveness and maintain their added value in their markets. However, once their project is underway, some are faced with issues they hadn’t anticipated at the start. Implementing a 4.0 project has its set of challenges and operational impacts that you need to be aware of before beginning.
Employees risk becoming unsettled by the changes caused by the 4.0 shift and these hesitations need to be identified right off the bat. It’s important to manage change by communicating and informing staff about upcoming projects, and by actively involving them in the implementation, whether it is choosing technologies, reviewing processes, etc. The support of positive leaders in the organization, who are able to motivate and identify possible resistance, is also a key success factor for efficient change management.
Train your employees
The addition of new machines and connected systems changes the nature of positions, makes tasks more complicated and requires that employees have new skills. While recruiting new talent might be a way of meeting this need, current employees need to be trained to update their skills. Internal and external training plans and professional development programs must be established quickly to ensure that your resources evolve and that you keep them.
Transform your processes
Integrating technologies into operations causes processes to evolve and affects the way things are done. Be careful! The right computer or technological tool isn’t enough on its own to make you more efficient and agile. You need to take the time to map out the key steps of the business and management processes to understand how technology can enhance and improve them and thus, optimize your activities.
Review your costs
Automation and robotization in the production process changes a business’s activities and consequently, your costs. You will have to adapt in order to have a reliable measure of your costs and determine a fair price. Fortunately, the data acquired from digitizing the company’s processes will help deploy production costs more quickly and often more accurately.
Protect your data
The increased connectivity between management systems and the factory’s machines generates data and poses a security threat. Often, the current IT structure is no longer sufficient to protect the business. It’s important for management to put security measure in place that are adapted to this new reality and the needs it generates if it wants to ensure the company’s longevity.
Lastly, the implementation of the 4.0 shift goes beyond a simple technological choice. It means all activities need to evolve and humans must be at the heart of change in order to maximize the impacts of this future transformation.
About the author
Suzanne Breton is Senior Manager of the Management Consulting team at Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton. She helps many Quebec SMEs determine their business strategy and 4.0 transformation project.