MYTH-BUSTING INDUSTRY 4.0: IS YOUR JOB ON THE LINE?
The digital transformation of manufacturing is underway, with automation and software replacing many traditional factory operations. This technology has the power to make supply chains more efficient, transparent and compliant, helping to drive up profits – but how will it impact your daily working life?
In this new series of blogs, we want to debunk some of the myths you might have heard about Industry 4.0, starting with jobs.
Even if your firm has not yet fully embraced digital technology, chances are you’ll understand how it’s changing manufacturing, and depending on your point-of-view, it can be seen as a good or bad thing. Most people welcome more efficient supply chains, however, fears about job security always loom large. Whether it’s robots in factories, or self-service machines in supermarkets, it certainly looks like technology is rapidly taking the place of human workers.
While automation is nothing new, reports that technology such as drones are putting people out of a job are never far from the headlines. Automated machines can carry out tasks like pick and pack and loading pallets far more quickly and accurately than people, keeping costs down and eliminating error. When it comes to supply chain management, automated systems also give production leaders greater control over all aspects of operations - even if they’re not on site.
As Industry 4.0 continues to gather pace, there’s no doubt that we’ll need to brace ourselves for some job losses – but it’s not the doomsday scenario people think it will be. Production leaders in smaller firms, who currently spend too much time on practical work like packing or driving forklift trucks, will find that technology allows them to instead concentrate on running the factory and taking control of the supply chain. As a result, productivity goes up and so too do revenue and profits.
It’s important to remember that efficiencies are designed to ensure the long-term survival, and success, of the business. Technology is key to boosting productivity, enabling firms to secure more contracts and take on high value work. Companies who fail to keep pace with the latest developments, and whose bottom line suffers, will simply drop out of the market and this will do nothing to safeguard employment.
In today’s market, none of your customers want to work with a supplier that stores information on a spreadsheet, or worse, in lever arch files. In complex supply chains, where time is at a premium, there is no way they can manually check multiple records, especially if the business operates globally. As a production leader, it’s your responsibility to provide a block of data that demonstrates full traceability for all your components. Drop the whole audit trail and it’s not long before contracts – and jobs – are lost.