Number One with a Bullet

January 18, 2018

Industry 4.0 and Workforce Management

At the heart of the 4th Industrial revolution, there are two critical words that you will see in almost every article when talking about Industry 4.0. Those two words are “Digital” and “Smart” and they represent a complete shift in enablement and employee productivity in the modern manufacturing world. Access to people, facilities, equipment, lines, logistics and capacity are now required to stay efficient and be competitive. The days of massive unproductive labor cost, overtime and under-utilized manufacturing lines are gone along with many of the companies that refuse to adapt with the times. Don’t believe me, just look at the shift in the Fortune 500 over the past decade.

Being both Digital and Smart

Think about this. What system in your enterprise does the employee interact with each day, and in most cases, multiple times per day? It isn’t your ERP, Payroll or HR system, and it’s not Talent either. Here are the facts: every shift worker on the manufacturing floor uses a timeclock, a kiosk, a browser or a mobile phone to clock-in, take breaks and lunch, view schedules, request PTO and/or track time against a work order. Employees do this or they don’t get paid. We all like to get paid therefore engagement is natural. For the millennial-worker it’s also about acknowledging contribution and team-oriented validation.

Opportunity is What You Make it

Workforce Management is no longer just about tracking time. With the advancement of workforce management clocks, kiosks and mobility platforms, it is the single-best communication tool in a company’s arsenal. Companies can connect shop floor data, asset data, employee performance data, quality data, and virtually any other part of the organization. In the digital age, it’s critical for employees to consume and act on information in real time. There are so many great areas to focus on, such as:

  • Proactive Communication: the ability to push data, direction, and trends while there’s still an opportunity to correct future course. Whether it’s simple alerts to avoid overtime or communicating shop-floor productivity in real-time, you want employees and managers to know what costs can be avoided and where throughput can be improved.
  • Relevant Information: It’s increasingly important to keep interactions with any business system as relevant as possible. Due to frequency of use, keeping data specific to role and job in the Workforce Management area is critical. If data is relevant to how production volume and quality is measured, how they contribute to the goals of the company, and how they will be rewarded, employees will be inherently more engaged in the production process
  • Naturally Consumable: How many times have you logged into an application and just gotten confused on where to go? Applications not only have to be proactive and provide relevant information, the employee must easily understand what they are seeing and how to interact with it. Ease-of-use is critical and the format in which data is delivered must be familiar.
  • Connect Beyond Time and Attendance: Many organizations are using legacy Time and Attendance solutions that aren’t connected to other strategic WFM components or to complimentary business solutions within their own organizations e.g., ERP or MES. To achieve employee engagement, Manufacturers need to collapse workload, labor standards and scheduling into a single system. Including materials and machine data, supply chain, and CRM information, can offer valuable insights as well. The bottom line is this: Manufacturers should take advantage of a captive and interested audience while providing information from every part of the business. If your Workforce Management platform isn’t connected in a digital format with more than just timekeeping, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.

Let’s be Smarter about this

Simply put, a smart factory communicates every aspect of the business through system-to-system communication. It also pushes actionable data to the employee that is relevant and within their ability to act. The simple fact is, employees act differently when given the right information. It is no different than a traffic signal. When you reach a red light, you stop, when you see a green light you go. Employees empowered with the right information and data, will make smart decisions almost 100% of the time. Supporting the smart factory starts with communication and smart data. Imagine just a few of the possibilities:

  • Your Workforce Management platform prevents employees from being scheduled for a line that needs maintenance or when there aren’t enough parts to complete the work order
  • An employee that is missing a necessary or required certification, or that needs a re-certification, is notified prior to being scheduled for a shift and prevented from clocking-in
  • A manager is notified of multiple employees going into overtime thus creating an overall production cost overrun; management can now design an alternative staffing plan
  • A workforce management platform that communicates labor and production efficiency in real-time to the management team thus providing the opportunity to react appropriately
  • Beyond workforce management, imagine all your business applications working together. Your CRM notifies your Workforce Management, Recruiting and Training systems of pending sale so that the factory knows in advance and can staff and train for the work coming.

A digital workforce will have access to relevant and contextual information that takes them well beyond recording time, or coming to work based on a predetermined schedule. Today’s employee demands access to every data point in their world, at the exact moment it’s needed, and on any given day. This is the definition of a modern, and engaged employee. This can also be a legitimate competitive advantage for the manufacturers that properly address the gap. And, because Workforce Management is such an engrained part of the employee work-life, it offers a compelling use case for improved engagement.

Mike Brandt, Director, Workforce Management Industrial Manufacturing, Americas, @michaelqbrandt

  • Infor Workforce Management
  • Worldwide
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