How to hire for industry 4.0

July 25, 2022

The Industrial Revolution changed how we live and work. In the late 1990s, the Digital Revolution began to leave its own shockwaves on companies, employees and their shared potential. How will Industry 4.0 – in which big data is the norm – affect your logistics business? And how can you help hires thrive amid changes that are already reshaping society?

"For an established manufacturer," writes Rob Schoenthaler in SupplyChainBrain, "getting to Industry 4.0 isn't something that can take place overnight. It's a disruptive transformation which involves multiple steps and corresponding changes in workflow, training and job assignments."

The advantage is that once everyone's up to speed with interconnectivity, machine learning and smart automation, you're less likely to be shaken by the unexpected. Global events and fluctuating markets won't cut into your profit margin as deeply. That's also true of chinks in the supply chain: vendors, suppliers or distributors who are themselves disrupted, but don't drag your operations down too.

With vast technological change hovering over manufacturing and logistics, we're going to share some pointers for hiring on the right side of Industry 4.0.

Look for adaptable, critical thinkers

As more machine sensors gain ground in the workplace, and the Internet of Things extracts richer insight from any cloud device, you will have to scale some roles back or eliminate them altogether. But that doesn't mean the people who are used to them should take a pay cut or lose their job. One of Industry 4.0's most exciting prospects is the unknown factor: many of us are still working out where the human element fits in. This will be an ongoing debate in your business, so fresh hires may want to demonstrate logistical flexibility – the skills or willingness to flip between roles, processes, teams and tasks, taking what they're best at into new areas.

Underline opportunities for interaction and creativity

Industry 4.0 is a technical advance, but also a cultural one. The ways in which workers start to think of their duties, as well as their personal satisfaction, is bound to shift. An article by Deloitte featured in The Wall Street Journal reminds us that, "It is important to recognize the no-collar trend creates new, often welcome ways of working within a culture of human/machine collaboration . . . Humans may begin to look to leverage automation so they can better demonstrate their creativity and social contributions rather than their throughput."

You might want to reconsider performance metrics. For instance, ask your managers to note whenever someone earns a big win for the workforce with their own idea, or goes beyond the call of duty for team motivation. When you're hiring, bring these qualities to the top of your talent search.

Invert your training program

Usually, older workers take the lead with upskilling and shadowing. Yet the time someone spends at a factory, warehouse or processing plant is becoming less valuable than their ability to latch onto digital change. Your training might accommodate this by flipping the script i.e. hosting regular, Industry 4.0 training sessions where younger workers are in control. Aside from the good sense of letting those who are more familiar with interconnected tools show off their functionality, it's a powerful morale boost. It shows knowledge flows both ways. Traditional and revolutionary voices can speak and learn from each other.