Digitisation in manufacturing: why you need a people first approach — Dropbox Business Blog UK

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4 June 2018 — 4 min read

Digitisation in manufacturing: why you need a people first approach

"Your employees must not only understand the changed purpose and direction of your company, they also need new tools and new hands-on skills."

“You need to get started on digitisation in manufacturing and get smart on new topics. If you haven’t begun your journey yet, you are in real danger of being left behind because the manufacturing industry is developing rapidly.”
Jan Veira, Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder, University4Industry

Founded in mid 2015, University4Industry is helping businesses in manufacturing (among others) educate their teams on the latest technologies disrupting the industry. The company helps businesses solve one of the most complex issues to hit the industry in decades: digitisation.

Tackling core topics such as Industrial Security, 3D Printing, Machine Learning, Blockchain and IoT, University4Industry provides people with the knowledge to realise the challenges they have and how to solve them efficiently. We spoke to Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer, Jan Veira, to find out what advice he has for IT/digital leaders in the manufacturing leaders during these interesting times of technological change.

The pace of change in manufacturing means management teams are under pressure to deliver quick results. Leaders are now searching for rapid solutions that add value, often looking to bring external experts in to the business to plug the holes and make the necessary improvements. “The gap in skills is getting wider, as digital technology proliferates but the workforce stagnates,” says Jan. “Companies are looking to hire the right people, but this is a risky and slow solution to a common problem. That is why we set up our business, to offer companies another way to get ahead of the technology: education for today’s workforce.”

“We are already seeing a noticeable shift away from only developing and selling precision hardware and engineering,” says Jan.

The opportunity lies in taking advantage of new, digital technologies and using the data they collect to fuel continuous improvement and drive process excellence. This is where the value will be in the future: in owning and using data. You need a skilled, educated workforce in order to do that. Your employees must not only understand the changed purpose and direction of your company, they also need new tools and new hands-on skills.

This is exactly the challenge that Jan Veira and his team are trying to solve. University4Industry’s content is provided by experts from the industry. The content is delivered as personalised packages, full of high-quality video and simulated practical exercises. Jan says: “It’s important that the content we deliver is of the highest quality and comes from people who really know what they’re talking about. The great news is that the expertise needed to bridge the gap is available, it’s just getting it to the people who need it.” And, according to Jan, this training needs to reach everyone, not just a select few or your middle managers. “Everyone needs to be up to speed and know how it all works.”

We asked Jan for his advice for manufacturing leaders looking to get ahead of technology and get their journey to digital underway. Here is what he had to say:

  • Find out what technology is out there

“There is so much opportunity for applying new technologies and practices,” says Jan. “What you need to do as leaders is identify which ones offer the greatest opportunity for you and your businesses processes and delivery models.”

  • Prioritise your options for new technology

“Once you have found out what is available to you, you need to prioritise your efforts and resources,” says Jan. “Every new technology will offer you improvements somewhere, but it is up to you as a leader to choose the right technologies.”

  • Continue to evaluate technology and the supply chain

“Things are moving so quickly,” says Jan. “What was leading edge just a year ago might already by established today. You have to keep evaluating the market for new technologies and your supply chain to find improvements. If you don’t, you will lose ground to your competitors and run the risk of falling too far behind.”

  • Shift your mindset 

“You shouldn’t be complaining about having the wrong employees,” says Jan. “You should be bringing your people along on this digitalisation journey and educating them. This should be business wide since your people are the backbone of your business. If you can train them to spot the opportunities for improvements, you will always be one step ahead.”

 

For more articles about digitisation in manufacturing and other stories, head here.

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