Article written by: Amanda Kelly, Creative Economy, City of Barrie

Did you know that 97% of Canadian manufacturing businesses know that they will be impacted by Industry 4.0 in the next 3-4 years? But shockingly, only 17% of them have a plan.

If robotics, AI, and the Internet of Things (IoT) haven’t changed your business yet, then know that they will very soon. You should also know that if you’re not taking steps right now to prepare for a more innovative culture, the odds are good that your competition is.

Here is how to build a manufacturing culture that will succeed and thrive in an Industry 4.0 world.

Anticipate Disruption, Instead of Reacting to it
Digital disruption is nearly inevitable in nearly every sector, and manufacturing is certainly no different. So, will you be the disruptor in your industry, or will you be the one disrupted?

Everyone will have the same access to the same technology at pretty much the same time. The race will be won by the forward-thinking companies who are in a position to quickly adapt and implement new solutions, while the rest will be playing catch-up.

Innovators know that change is on the horizon, so they move to meet it halfway, instead of waiting for change to come to them.

This is not to say you need to jump on every single technological trend. But, your company needs to be mindful of these trends so you can make a strategic and informed decision about whether or not your company needs to pivot.

Find Your Leader
This may surprise you, but the person who leads a massive technology rollout or on-boarding does not necessarily have to be a tech expert. It’s far more important that they’re a change agent.

This change needs to be spearheaded by someone with a very specific skill set, only some of which is technical.

They need to:

  • Be able to communicate with the upper level of the company (C-Level) to make the business case for more resources or more funding

  • Have the respect of the front-line workers so they can earn employee buy-in on this new initiative

  • Be the voice and the face of this new movement

If you don’t have this person on staff right now, you will have to recruit them. However, they may be hiding in plain sight within your organization. Perhaps you have someone that you brought to “clean up” a struggling department? That success may make them the person to lead this shift as well.

Find and Promote Your Innovators
Traditionally, managers in the manufacturing sector started on the front-line of this plant or another plant. They were promoted as a reward for their proven work on the front-line in areas like their reliability, their productivity, or their work ethic.

These may not be the skills you need for your management team in an Industry 4.0 marketplace. Your middle managers are going to have to manage more than people and equipment. They’re now going to have to manage data, and propagate that data upwards so operational changes can be made where they’re necessary.

This means your modern managers may need more soft skills such as:

  • Willingness to learn

  • Adaptability

  • Collaboration

  • Process awareness

  • Agile problem solving

Putting the right people in the right places always helps technology succeed.

How Does the City of Barrie Help the Manufacturing Sector?
The City of Barrie supports regional manufacturers in the development, acquisition, and implementation of innovative practices, technologies, and capabilities. Resources include education, events, ecosystem development, service referrals, business growth, and labour market strategies.

City of Barrie is a key investor in the new Advanced Technology Centre at Georgian College, focused on supporting 4.0 industry-academic collaborations, as well as the Sandbox Centre for Shared Entrepreneurship & Innovation, a network of companies focused on innovation.