Technologies like IoT (Internet of Things), 5G, or AI (Artificial Intelligence) enable industrial enterprises to improve employees’ working conditions – in the warehouse, in field service, and in production.
With short-time work, disrupted supply chains, and reduced production capacities, Covid-19 has hit manufacturing industry hard. While many companies were able to let their employees work partly or entirely from home, thereby maintaining their business model, manufacturing enterprises were forced to improvise. Warehouse workers, service technicians or skilled production employees were – and still are – unable to simply transfer their workplace to their own homes. As a rule they have to work on-site.
Why Industrial Enterprises Need to Rethink
The pandemic has made it clear, irrespective of the workplace issue, that workplace digitization continues to lag behind in manufacturing. While employers are increasingly, and as a matter of course, issuing their office employees with smartphones or laptops and the latest software, warehouse employees or machine operatives have very limited access to resources of this kind even though they would enable them too to work much more productively. Instead of being able to work faster and more reliably by using digital tools and connected processes, they have to control many production processes manually, to document them on paper and without exception to be on-site. Yet digitization and Industry 4.0 offer many opportunities to reduce the permanent burden of work on employees in production by means of digital production and storage solutions.
The Future of Industry: More Information Thanks to IoT and AI
With manufacturing enterprises increasingly connecting and automating their production, they can more easily digitize production workplaces. IoT solutions such as digital twins are the interface between the digital factory and its skilled employees. They generate data that makes production or service technicians better informed and better able to plan their work steps more efficiently – from plant management to maintenance.
Smart Factory: Skilled Production Workers Benefit From Industry 4.0
Predictive maintenance solutions notify operatives in advance of when, for example, a machine is due for a spare part replacement. A further advantage is that once companies have automated their processes in this way and, for instance, IoT and AI solutions check processes automatically, employees no longer need to perform tiresome routine tasks such as monotonous quality checks or maintenance at fixed intervals.
Augmented Reality Makes Work Easier
New technologies not only ease the physical and mental burden on employees; they also strengthen their skills. Wearing Augmented Reality glasses, technicians can with remote (digital) assistance perform exacting repairs themselves. Warehouse employees can use AR-based Pick-by-Vision solutions to find the fastest way to the right shelf. Virtual Reality data glasses also facilitate practical, hands-on training with significantly better learning effects.
Invest in the Future and Highlight Perspectives
Companies that make use of digitization in the context of Industry 4.0 to improve working conditions in warehouses and on the factory floor will not only increase efficiency but also, and above all, boost employee loyalty. That is important because skilled workers are few and far between. In order to retain skilled and experienced employees companies must not only make framework conditions more attractive but also offer better prospects. Employers must provide their employees with an opportunity to skill up in line with the development of digitization. Modern professional development enhances employees’ digital skills and is an expression of personal appreciation and esteem. That too is important because even the most advanced Industry 4.0 technologies only function in interaction with people.
Find out more in our new e-book “People in Manufacturing Industry” about the digitization of industrial workplaces and learn how companies ensure greater employee satisfaction and grow their success long-term by means of digital production and storage solutions.
Please note: The form section for the download, the following communication and the e-book are in German.
Practical Example: IoT Solution Frees Up Service Technicians
Hörmann KG of Steinhagen manufactures modern industrial doors and gates with individually configurable controls. The control modules inter alia record log and diagnostic data, issue warning messages and make information available. The company has set up a monitoring and service portal to keep track of this data remotely in real time. A smart module connected to Deutsche Telekom AG’s Cloud of Things communicates with the customer’s door or gate controls. As a result, Hörmann’s service technicians need to visit sites much less frequently when a fault is reported and can carry out much of their work remotely.
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Ümit has been working at T-Systems since 2015 and knows a great deal about many facets of the Internet of Things. He is particularly interested in topics related to the digitalization of the business world. For the blog, he reports on new developments and trends in the IoT world that offer real added value for customers.