A crucial lesson from the COVID-19 pandemic is that cost-effective digital manufacturing solutions are needed to keep factories and supply chains running smoothly while producing high-quality products. This is true for everyone in the industry, whether they are original equipment manufacturers, parts or assembly suppliers, subcontractors, or manufacturing service providers.
Most manufacturing executives seem unlikely to return to pre-pandemic working arrangements. Rather, manufacturers are looking for ways to rethink the work, workforce, and workplace to better manage disruption and uncertainty. Many manufacturers have accelerated the adoption of automation and robotics to ensure consistent production levels with reduced labor. To keep pace with technological change, manufacturers may also need to increase investment in intellectual property (IP) and exponential technologies, explore ‘industry 4.0’ digital manufacturing opportunities, increase the interconnectivity of the industrial ecosystem and rapidly adopt sensor technology, intelligent products and Internet of Things (IoT) strategies and analyzes. Additionally, many manufacturers may conclude that their ability to respond to major disruptions depends on a more agile workforce.
Employers can ensure that their production workforce is suited to achieve the desired gains in productivity, efficiency and flexibility that are promised by emerging manufacturing technologies with, among other strategies, skill building workforce and realignment of jobs. Steps to consider include the following:
- Reassess the role and capacities of the workforce. Some operational job losses during the pandemic could become permanent. Additionally, as robots, cobots, and other forms of automation in the production environment grow, so does the need for a workforce that can manage and interact with these technologies. These roles require a high level of technical expertise and a steady increase in skills.
- Develop employee development programs and the development of new skills to match changing work environments (such as automation, digital and remote).
- Evaluate and address existing employee handbook policies and, if unionized, collective agreements. Business models and digital technologies require greater flexibility and problem-solving capabilities. Manufacturers are adding sensors and machine learning to production lines to predict, prevent, and even fix problems before they happen. In addition, they evaluate vision systems with data analysis to improve the online quality of products or parts. Each of these initiatives will likely have an impact on how and where the work is done. For example, using a digital model, a manufacturer can virtually recreate a product, its manufacture, and even simulate its performance without having to “bend the metal” to test the product..
- Is there a provision in the collective bargaining contract that may prevent the manufacturer from relocating, shifting to another production site or methodology, or upgrading or defining the workforce for manufacturing the? or products currently produced by bargaining unit employees?
- Address the prevailing skills shortage. Attract, recruit and retain human capital with the skills and knowledge necessary for the implementation of Industry 4.0 technologies. What is needed is greater agility and cross-functionality in how manufacturers define roles, the skills needed for them, and training programs to retrain the existing workforce. Coinciding with the change of or and How? ‘Or’ What the job is done, manufacturers must ensure that the skills of their workforce correspond to emerging technologies.
- Cyber risks. HR and IT coordinate the development of employee training and awareness to mitigate “insider threats” to data security and intellectual property. Many workers are already using computers, smartphones and other equipment that allow employers to monitor their activity and location, even when they are not on duty. However, as the manufacturing sector moves closer to an ‘Industry 4.0’ paradigm, cybersecurity has become a broad business risk, encompassing almost all aspects of a company’s operations, from R&D to the factory and supplier. to the client. In the age of IoT and the frequency with which employees are allowed, and even encouraged, to bring their own devices, manufacturing companies are increasingly exposed to new and potentially more disruptive cyber threats.
- Has the organization developed, implemented, and documented Industrial Control System (ICS) specific policies, standards and procedures so that employees understand its position and procedures on ICS security?
- Are awareness programs designed to respond to specific
- considerations for managing high-risk employee groups
- sensitive intellectual property, ICS or connected products?
- Assess legal compliance regarding employee privacy, EEO, and hours of work laws when personal devices allow monitoring or obfuscation of the historical definition of the normal workday.
The future is one in which robotics and other technologies capture huge amounts of personal information to power artificial intelligence (AI) software that learns what metrics are associated with things like mood and mood. energy levels of workers, or even illnesses like depression. AI software used in the hiring process is marketed as reducing biased human decision making. In fact, they can create more bias, as these systems depend on inputting assumptions and large collections of data, which can themselves be biased. Discrimination laws based on computer algorithms are unclear, just as other technologies extend labor laws and regulations far beyond their clear applications. The legal landscape is likely to evolve further in the protection of individual privacy rights in the workplace.