Manufacturing Leaders Must Evolve to Meet the Demands of Industry 4.0

Manufacturing Leaders Must Evolve to Meet the Demands of Industry 4.0

The increased use of technology in manufacturing has changed processes, supply chains and the skills required of factory workers. In many operations, a lot of attention is given to the challenges involved in updating a factory to take advantage of smart manufacturing technology, but a key component is often overlooked: the company’s leadership.

In most cases, the leaders of a manufacturing operation adopting new technology are fully invested in making the necessary changes to processes and employee roles. However, a disconnect often occurs at this time as shifts in operational behaviors occur but leadership behavior does not.

Industry 4.0 Leadership Behavior Shifts  

There are many ways to break down the types of leadership skills necessary for success in the new manufacturing environment, but an article by McKinsey & Company presented a great view of the necessary skills as a shift in behavior rather than something more dramatic. Additionally, these shifts are matched up with the need for manufacturing leaders to be more data-driven than in the past.

Behavior Shift One: Asking Questions Rather than Giving Answers.

This shift is driven by both the added complexity of modern manufacturing and the changing workforce where younger workers have come to expect more trust and autonomy. Learning to ask the right questions and providing access to the data needed to find the answers puts the front-line employees at the center of the problem solving or operational improvement effort, improving communication, trust and buy-in that is becoming a necessary in a time of rapid change.

Behavior Shift Two: Dig for Root Causes Instead of Looking for Quick Fixes.

It can be very tempting to put a “band-aid” on a broken process, but with the data available in the modern operation, you have the information to find the root cause and develop a long-term solution. Combined with the first behavior shift, a manufacturing leader can relieve themselves of huge consumption of their time by asking the right questions of managers or line workers who are then empowered to find the root of the problem and suggest solutions. Making manufacturing data available to employees can speed this transition.

Behavior Shift Three: Connecting the Organization’s Goals to Individual’s Work Instead of Setting General Goals.

This shift can impact everything from productivity and employee satisfaction to product quality and customer satisfaction. Thinking of how each employee’s efforts match up to the organization’s goals on a daily basis and translating that into meaningful individual goals can help the entire organization feel invested in the company’s success. The data being captured at every step of the manufacturing process is key to delivering on this shift. Leaders who invest the time and resources required to deliver a high level of understating and visibility of operational data will truly be leading an Industry 4.0-capable organization.

Need help making these behavior shifts? Triple Helix has provided data and information systems for the aerospace and manufacturing industries for the last fifteen years. We can help you evaluate your processes and existing technology investments to help you make the changes smart manufacturing requires. Contact us to schedule a free, no-obligation assessment of your company’s digital tools and processes.

About The Author: Jason Bittner

CEO and founder of Triple Helix Corporation, since 2004. Has worked closely within the Aerospace / Defense / Manufacturing industries for over two (2) decades, solving technical challenges with integrating data and information technologies with best business practices. Jason seeks to educate and inform his readers with the latest news about the information management space, along with insights into how best to operate our companies now and into the future.
May 22nd, 2019

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