Focusing on the Human Being
Even though artificial intelligence and autonomous solutions are increasingly conquering manufacturing, nothing works in production without qualified employees. And these are becoming increasingly hard to recruit against the backdrop of demographic change and a shortage of skilled workers. This makes it all the more important to provide people in production with the best possible support, to transfer their knowledge and to maintain their ability to work for as long as possible.
With raw material shortages, supply chain problems and climate neutrality, industry is currently facing many challenges – but one of the most pressing is the shortage of skilled workers. Without qualified people, the other tasks cannot be tackled either. Automated and autonomous systems can cushion the problem, but not solve it, because: »Every automation system needs skilled personnel to help make key decisions,« says Holger Klempnow, CEO of KleRo GmbH Roboterautomation. »Without this personnel, a production hall cannot be expected to run reasonably in the near future.« One key aspect: The human ability to react flexibly to disruptions and unexpected or new situations is far from being technically replicable, even with AI. Especially in crisis and exceptional situations, employees are therefore a crucial resilience factor.
Against the backdrop of demographic change and a shift in values among younger generations, the problem is not expected to ease in the near future. Creative solutions are therefore needed to recruit, retain and upskill staff, but also to support the existing workforce. It is necessary to increase the attractiveness of jobs in production, by making tasks diverse and allowing workers to make decisions, but also by reducing physical stress. Highly complex, integrated technologies must be made manageable for operators, even if their initial qualifications for handling them are not perfect. And the know-how of process experts must be secured within the company and made accessible to other employees.