What jobs in the factory of the future? Part2

Chris HOHMANN

Chris HOHMANN – Author

In this second post of the serie, well-known software editor SAP proposes six theories about how Industry 4.0 may change the way we work.

The original is online >here


SAP’s Six Theories about Industry 4.0

(excerpts and comments)

Theory 1: Digital natives will define the way of working. Thanks to their affinity for mobile devices, this new generation is used to adapting quickly to new technologies and will eventually squeeze out older employees.

Theory 2: Industry 4.0 will make employees in a company happier and more satisfied with their jobs, because they will be able to work more independently than before. In the future, information will be available at the push of a button. Real-time technologies are essential if employees are to be an integral part of the company’s processes and stay up-to-date at all times. This will give the employees creative freedom that was not possible before.

CH: I wonder what creative freedom means in an industrial environment?

Theory 3: Industry 4.0 will lead to employees performing tasks at a higher level than that for which they were originally trained. This means that employees will need to have a different and better level of training than they do now. But the job market doesn’t and can’t provide this new generation of high potentials off the shelf, so it’s important for employees starting out at a company to be made aware that they’ll need to constantly learn on the job. Today, this topic is being discussed among highly qualified engineers, tomorrow it will be a topic for subject experts, and the day after that a topic for everyone else. Tasks will be more complex in the future, and everyone has to be trained accordingly.

Theory 4: Employees needn’t worry if their skills have become outdated. Technology is so adaptable and intelligent that it can help you precisely when you need it most. The Google Glass data glasses are a prime example. People turn to all sorts of technical aids for support, even people who don’t belong to Generation Y or Z.

CH: given the ever fewer people needed to do the job and despite protective social laws, if the choice is open to employers, they may favor the best fit. Theory 1 and 4 look mutually exclusive.

Theory 5: Most people will have to work longer as a result of the age pyramid. Thanks to “physical and cognitive skills support” – a new generation of industrial cyber-physical systems – older people will be able to master increasingly complex tasks quite easily in the future.

CH: the “physical and cognitive skills support” may be turned into more artificial intelligence and automation, why would it support senior workforce? Just like for fighter jets, human pilots carry a lot of constraints limiting the fighter’s performance. Drones will outperform piloted jets in many aspects. So could factory automation.

Theory 6: Industry 4.0 will lead to increased demand for specialists in the short-term. These specialists will have more room to make decisions, they’ll be more satisfied with their jobs, and they will make processes more efficient – regardless of the generation they belong to.

As different as these six theories are, there is one point on which all researchers agree: the artificial intelligence of cyber-physical devices will never exceed human intelligence. Assist it, yes – control it, no.


What jobs in the factory of the future? >Part1 >Part2 >Part3 > Part4 >Part5


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