Three examples that prove 4IR enables employees to work ‘smarter’

89% of manufacturers believe that new digital technologies will enable employees to work smarter and be more engaged; here are three examples that make the case for this.

Employees can become more engaged through a variety of different smart factory technologies - image courtesy of Depositphotos.
Employees can become more engaged through a variety of different smart factory technologies – image courtesy of Depositphotos.

Statistics from the Annual Manufacturing Report 2018, published by Hennik Research, show that nine out of 10 manufacturers think new technologies improve workforce engagement significantly, with over half surveyed ‘strongly’ agreeing.

Employees can become more engaged through a variety of different smart factory technologies, such as ergonomic practices, VR and AR, utilising data, connected systems and automation.

Introducing these could transform businesses and allow employees to ultimately upskill and work smarter.

Here are three examples across different industries that make the case for 4IR technologies improving employee engagement and enabling them to work smarter.

Fashion: Smart factory

Redesigning products when they are not selling, and having full transparency of production lines through connected systems is part of a flexible strategy and can help achieve a smarter workforce.

Fashion Enter CEO, Jenny Holloway.
Fashion Enter director, Jenny Holloway.

Jenny Holloway, CEO of Fashion Enter, spoke to The Manufacturer about their connected Galaxius system.

Holloway explained the company’s Galaxius digital system allows the fashion business to see exactly what garments are being made and where, which enables them to have absolute transparency with retailers, their workforce and consumers.

The system provides a performance related pay structure enabling employees to hit bonuses, this encouraging and engaging them for the work they do.

The connected smart system allows the company to collect data about operations, and carry out Just in Time and lean strategies, where as Holloway says, time is money.

Automotive: Ergonomic system

Manufacturing employees at Ford Valencia Engine Assembly, have been wearing a special suit with numerous sensors that track movement and help to promote good posture.

The body-tracking technology records movement via four specialised motion-tracking cameras that capture a 3D skeletal character animation of the user - image courtesy of Ford.
The body-tracking technology records movement via four specialised motion-tracking cameras – image courtesy of Ford.

The technology is more typically used by sports coaches to ensure sports stars’ skills are utilised, and it is also used to replicate sports players movements in video games.

The suit consists of 15 tiny movement tracking light sensors that are connected to a wireless detection unit. The system tracks how the person moves at work, highlighting head, neck, shoulder and limb movements.

Four specialised motion-tracking cameras record movement that capture a 3D skeletal character animation of the user.

Data gathered is then used by ergonomic specialists to help employees align their posture correctly. Introducing this technology can improve employees capabilities when working on the assembly line.

Learn how ergonomics can further improve productivity and safety within manufacturing. 

Food and drink: Automation

Fourpure Brewing Co, located in South Bermondsey has doubled both its workforce and revenue year-on-year by producing high-quality craft beer.

Dan Lowe is pictured in the tap room selling Fourpure's popular craft beer, which is open to the public every day from noon.
Dan Lowe is pictured in the tap room selling Fourpure’s popular craft beer.

Dan Lowe spoke to The Manufacturer about the current automation introduced that has enabled a smarter operation and the entire workforce to upskill.

He said:  “We have heavily invested in our automation in the last year. Previously, it was very manual, we would load every empty can to be filled and take every empty can off by hand. We were running at 30 cans per minute and we now run at 250 cans per minute, with the same number of operators.

“From the very start, we have focused on getting a really good team, investing in good equipment and taking risks.”

Introducing automation has allowed the business to upscale their workforce and engage them in other tasks, ultimately allowing them to work smarter.

Read more about the rise of craft beer here.

See for yourself how innovative the UK manufacturing sector is at the moment by attending Europe’s largest digital manufacturing event, which showcases the most advanced 4IR technology – Smart Factory Expo.

Last year, the two-day event attracted more than 4,000 industrial decision-makers. This year, we’re on track to host 6,000!

Secure your free ticket today! 

14 – 15 November | Exhibition Center Liverpool