Recently, I’ve had several conversations about advanced technologies and the impact of Industry 4.0 with peers who also advocate for the adoption of these solutions. Often, the discussion focuses on the positive business changes that occur once new technologies are brought into the factory environment: better machine health, less downtime, quicker line changes, and so forth.
But there is another positive change we should be talking about: happier, more efficient employees.
[If you just said… ”um, what?”… give me 3 minutes of your time. If you aren’t convinced that technology can produce a happier, more efficient factory worker at the end of this post, leave a comment to tell me so.]
It was while talking to the team at Librestream, a Winnipeg-based developer of mobile collaboration solutions for industries, that the prospect of a happier, more efficient factory employee was raised.
This is what they told me:
“If we think about what would make the most efficient factory, there is one constant amid all these changes and that is the role of the factory worker. Considering how critical the role is, initiatives should consider creating the most effective factory worker and bringing them into the digitized era.” – Librestream
A thousand times, yes.
The right technology results in an effective worker. An effective worker results in an effective factory.
Consider machine maintenance. Connected machines on the floor provide workers with valuable information, including status, output, and historical data that can be used to determine if a maintenance check is required. When the machine data indicates a concern, a remote expert is called in real-time to view the equipment over video and resolve the issue. What used to take days is done in minutes, and your employees can move to the next machine.
Another efficiency improvement comes from better training and development of factory staff, because when employees better understand their job and how to perform it, they tend to do it faster and more confidently. And that training can be delivered remotely in real-time, so you never need to worry about where your staff is located. The proof? Librestream customer Diebold Nixdorf trained their field teams 33% faster using video solutions and remote mentors.
That covers worker efficiency. But what about the other part of the equation – happiness?
The World Happiness Report 2017 (yes, it’s a thing) looked at the relationship between work and wellbeing, and concluded that two of the workplace factors that contribute to happiness are work-life balance, and variety and control.
From the report:
“Workers who report that their job interferes with their ability to spend time with their partner and family, as well as those who ‘bring their job home’ with them … report systematically lower levels of subjective wellbeing.”
“Having control over how the workday is organised as well as the pace at which the employee works is positively correlated with higher wellbeing outcomes.”
Technologies that help workers finish their tasks faster, such as video solutions and wireless connectivity, and finish them with better accuracy, such as sensors that deliver real-time data for analysis, help eliminate duplicated (and redundant) tasks. The result? Factory employees finish their work on time and are able to control, depending on their role, the tasks they perform during the day as they move throughout the floor.
It’s time to make the factory a better, more engaging workplace for your employees (and more profitable for you). Because when employees are happy, they are efficient. And when they are efficient, the factory follows suit.
It’s been 3 minutes. Believe me yet?