In any field of business, standard operating models are constantly evolving, and sometimes they take a significant leap forward that requires every organisation to embrace that change or risk being left behind.
The food and drink manufacturing sector is no exception to this. This is currently being demonstrated by the major paradigm shift that businesses are experiencing with the advent of the so-called Industry 4.0 trend. Combining the proven benefits of automation with a 21st century approach to hyper-connectivity, this operating model is already revolutionising manufacturing on a global basis. It looks like a trend that will only continue gathering momentum in 2018 and beyond.
As such, it's essential that professionals at all levels within the food and drink sector learn as much as they can about how Industry 4.0 will affect their future planning, particularly when it comes to training and recruitment. Arming yourself with this knowledge will ensure that your organisation is able to take full advantage of the benefits this new methodology can provide.
The Industry 4.0 trend has also been referred to as the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’, reflecting the full significance this digitally-driven transformation is having on the manufacturing sector.
In simple terms, the principle refers to the use of intelligent systems, real-time data and cloud connectivity to overhaul and improve the efficiency of manufacturing processes. In the past, even large-scale productions had to be coordinated by centralised decision-makers. Thanks to Industry 4.0, it's now possible for machines, devices, sensors and people to be in constant communication, meaning many functions can be entirely automated, informed by the data generated by the rest of the production line.
Of course, not every organisation has the technical capability to accomplish this, but more and more food and drink firms are likely to invest in the necessary cloud systems and data discovery platforms as awareness of the potential benefits increases. This makes it vital for forward-looking companies to act soon – or risk getting left behind.
When considering the best ways to adapt to the Industry 4.0 paradigm, it's vital for professionals to think carefully about the benefits they hope to achieve, and how these can be realistically attained:
At the same time, professionals also need to be aware of the potential risks that a change of this magnitude can inevitably bring:
In order to properly account for the scale of change that Industry 4.0 will bring, companies cannot adopt a short-term outlook. Instead, they should look to implement a longer-term digital roadmap that will take into account their current and projected future needs.
This should include an audit of their current data capabilities and technological infrastructure, and a consideration of what might be required in the future to meet evolving customer, product and data needs, taking into account as wide a range of best and worst-case scenarios as possible.
Following this, businesses should look to provide thorough and continuous training to help new and existing workers understand and internalise the disciplines involved with data-driven, automated workflows, and the importance of responsible data stewardship. For those with a more traditional approach to working, this may require some extra effort, but helping everyone understand the merits of Industry 4.0 is vital to its success.
At present, this digital, hyper-connected vision remains a futuristic concept for most food and drink companies. This could mean that Industry 4.0 could provide a significant, measurable competitive advantage for those forward-looking businesses willing to get ahead of the curve.
Contact Elaine Hankinson here for more information about how we can help you with your L&D strategy behind the 4.0 implementation in your organisation. With over 20 years-experience and 3 million learners, we have trained over 750,000 Food and Drink personnel.