Industry 4.0: enhancing efficiency is the way to achieve a goal

Digitalisierung und Industrie 4.0 – alle sprechen davon und Unternehmen, die die Chancen erkannt haben, sind bereits auf dem Weg und befinden sich aktuell im Veränderungsprozess. Industrie 4.0 ist aber weit mehr als eine Neustrukturierung technischer Prozesse und birgt viele Herausforderungen für das Change-Management.

The topics of digitalisation and Industry 4.0 are on everyone’s lips, and companies which have recognised the opportunities are already well on their way and are currently going through a process of change. But Industry 4.0 goes far beyond restructuring technical processes, and it brings many challenges for change management.

One key factor in terms of companies’ competitiveness is their ability to cope with change at all staff levels. But the greatest potential also harbours the greatest risk – because in most cases change breeds uncertainty and anxiety. New working environments are being created, hierarchies are being scrutinised, and linear and function-centric structures are being weakened. People are very fearful of new challenges or losing their status, which is why every change process can be thwarted or delayed – either consciously or unconsciously.

A company which is planning to change – with the vision of “Industry 4.0” – and which wants to follow the path towards digitalisation must create suitable framework conditions that extend beyond technological issues. Digitalisation doesn’t just mean implementing a new system. Rather, it means setting out on new paths in a needs-based and organisationally compatible way and supporting staff during the change process. They have to be involved, sensitised and trained. This is the only way to reduce fear of the unknown and to obtain expertise. Fully in line with the motto “Acceptance instead of anxiety”, one key aspect in this regard is showing staff prospects and developing solutions – and this is something that Gundula Pally, Managing Director of Vienna-based Kerkhoff Consulting GmbH, knows from experience. “Even today, we have already managed to set up completely self-sufficient processes that reduce staff workloads, or, to put it in a provocative way, make them expendable to some degree, but we take a different view.”

After all, despite all the similarities, every company and every industry is different, and they all have their own individual challenges and solutions. But each company harbours the potential of being able to change at all staff levels. A change process such as this can be simulated in the “Training Factory 4.0”, with the involvement of staff from an extremely wide range of departments, using a customised planning game. This practical simulation approach allows participants to experience how standardised processes and digitalisation can simplify processes in a company and enhance efficiency. Fear of change is thereby allayed, and the implementation process is practically tested right down to the smallest details beforehand.

The entire value creation chain is also illustrated, the daily processes of a manufacturing company are shown in a simplified way, and changes along the value creation change are considered during the practical simulation. The silo mentality is broken down, while competing interests, conflicts and unclear expectations are focused on an interdisciplinary task. “It makes staff, who have developed something shared and sustainable, proud, and and prompts them to promote these ideas and changes,” explains Mrs Pally. “As we work as advisors, our job only involves leading, coaching and reflecting on things. The staff do the rest of the work themselves.” Staff are therefore motivated by their own experiences and discover new prospects.

Digitalisation 4.0 is therefore more than a technical update, and it doesn’t work at the touch of a button. The current economic dynamism means that companies are faced with constant change, and changes are already part and parcel of everyday business. In this regard, a willingness to change and creativity are decisive factors in terms of the success of tomorrow. Using systematic processes to manage changes in a needs-based manner is the way to achieve the goal.

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