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Democratizing Automation in the Factory

One of the key skills workers need in the industry 4.0 era is to operate automation technologies. For some, automation is unfamiliar territory, and is outside of their comfort zone. However, in the race towards digitalisation, employers and employees alike had to push beyond their original skill sets to adapt to the new economic order.

As the dust starts to settle on the health and social crisis of the past 2 years, we also need to consider how we can help workers learn better. This includes learning the technologies relevant to today’s world of work, as well as the technologies that will be needed in the future of work.

Democratizing automation in the factory means we give the decision-making power back to the employees – we allow them to be part of the conversation about how they want to learn, how they would like to see the factory transform, and how they want to work with each other.

Instead of traditional decision-making models centred around management and leadership teams, the new collaborative model of work empowers employees to work together and co-create the future of the factory together with the leadership teams.

Here are some ways we can prioritise our people in the new collaborative model of work.

Providing reskilling and upskilling training programmes

Reskilling and upskilling are critical in the new era of the digital factory.

Workers have had to pick up new skills in record speed to keep business operations going during the pandemic, and employers can do more to support them in training.

Creating reskilling and upskilling training programmes, either held internally or with an external education vendor, opens up resources for employees to develop the skills they know the factory needs. It also gives employees the confidence that they are well supported to develop new skills relevant both today and in future.

Creating internal employee groups

Employee groups, facilitated and led by and for employees, are powerful ways in creating a robust support structure for employees. For example, an automation council can be set up to collect feedback and ideas from employees about the automation tools and solutions they think will be useful for the factory, which can be submitted to the management team for consideration. Employees can also set up learning groups to support one another in their learning. Groups can also be developed for diversity and inclusion programmes, to ensure that all workers and learners, regardless of education background or skill level, are given equal access to resources that will help them thrive at work.

These are some of the ways we can ensure employees can work in a supportive and sustainable environment in the long run, while we deal with the many changes of the work and economic environment.

What are some of your thoughts on democratizing automation? Let us know what you think!

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