Industry 4.0 and its impact on the organization
Manual labor is becoming more and more expensive globally. Industry 4.0 offers chances of retaining jobs
in Europe through approaches like stronger networking of companies, expansion of automation or even
local 3D printing instead of relocating production to Asia. That does not mean, however, that all jobs will be saved. Consolidation is necessary and so is retraining.
What does this mean for companies and their employees?
- More IT-based control
- Changing employee profiles (data analysts instead of forklift operators)
- More commitment of managers and employees to adapting to the new environment
Case Study: A challenge for the company and its employees
An international industrial corporation with more than 5,000 employees
decided to continue production at its home base. Alternative relocation
plans to Eastern Europe were ditched. This meant, however, that the local organization had to be profoundly changed, mainly by means of new software and extensive automation (e.g. classic forklifts were replaced by driverless forklifts).
Employees who had previously only been monitoring production suddenly had to learn how to understand and analyze data, too. The plan stipulated cost reductions as well as staff cuts by 30%. At the same time the company aimed at increasing the output level and reducing production costs per output.
How to support organisational change
- Managers must be thoroughly prepared for Industry 4.0, too.
- Change management tries to balance labor law requirements (works council, job protection) and economic necessity.
- A specific approach embracing presence on the ground and open communication increases the acceptance of change among employees.