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How do we put the human into our manufacturing process?

Blog: Apriso Blog

The human starts and ends the manufacturing process—when consumers order a product to make and deliver; and today, these consumers want individual, personalized experiences of their “own.”  Now in our Experience Economy, transforming mass production into personalized mass customization emphasizes the human even more as companies strive to deliver unique, one-to-one experiences for everyone.

With digitalization bringing real-time visibility more and more into processes and operations, work teams and managers have the information needed to empower collaboration and augment human creativity to succeed. Digitalization enables capturing the data that characterizes what’s happening on the shop floor, which means there is perfect visibility and understanding at every point in time. This is about engaging teams, creating autonomy and having timely, contextual, global information to anticipate issues and take corrective actions.

Throughout product creation and manufacturing, digitalization enables workers and managers to know where they stand across the operation, their performance and the performance of their colleagues upstream and downstream. Using automation to reduce repetitive production tasks—both physical (with machines and robots) and business (capturing data)—workers are freed to intervene at various points where they can add value. This increases worker engagement. Jobs become more interesting, more impactful, with more autonomy; and they become more actionable, with better focus on adding value.

This transformation means getting people the skills to succeed in this new business and manufacturing world. People will be positioned differently; roles will change. Workers on the shop floor will become more engaged in day-to-day planning, and managers will become more facilitators to ensure execution that produces results. Getting operations and teams to adopt this strategy requires embracing a comprehensive vision across the entire enterprise. That requires somebody high up in the business—the CEO or COO—to champion this new way of working as one that will provide value.

Companies need to articulate the value of the transformation and explain the benefit. The reality is that this kind of change will span several years because transformation takes time to bring a company from where it is to where it needs to go. To encourage results, a strategy should favor quick, small increments of improvement to promote change. Often organizations start with enthusiasm, but as times goes by people become less involved. So this transformation must be business-focused at a core level, and demonstrate success.

There is leading-edge technology, know-how, fun and creativity in executing the manufacturing world of tomorrow. Digitalization creates a modern manufacturing domain where the human comes to the fore, providing high quality, creative experiences for consumers and ensuring a long, interesting professional life for workers.

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