Industry 4.0 or “Industrial Internet of Things” (IIoT) is revolutionizing the producing middle class and corporations. It strengthens competitiveness, accelerates product development, and enables individual products. IIoT, also known as Industry 4.0, is more than just the technical digitalization of industry. The planning of new digital processes and their introduction are unthinkable without skilled employees. Qualification and competence management of all players, as well as personnel certification and an external view, are important success factors for the development of the smart factory of the future.

Industry 4.0 or Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is a collective term for digitization in industrial production. It involves the networking of machines, tools, and people in seamless digital end-to-end process chains. From the customer to production and suppliers, a completely digital performance chain is realized, through which all data is available for all process steps.

Manufacturing companies, in particular, are looking for a way to realize competitive advantages with technologies based on Big Data, AI (Artificial Intelligence), and Industry 4.0. The factory of the future is intelligent, flexible, automated, efficient, and sustainable. Large volumes of data should not only be manageable but also converted into Smart Data and used by Smart Data Services – from the store floor to after-sales service at the management level.

Currently, 17.7 billion IIoT connections are said to exist worldwide, Juniper Research reported in early November 2020. The British market researchers forecast an increase to 36.8 billion networked industrial things by 2025, which means they expect growth of over 100 percent in just five years. In their study “Industrial IoT: Future Market Outlook, Technology Analysis and Key Player 2020-2025“, the analysts identify smart manufacturing as the most important growth driver. In particular, the widespread introduction of 5G wireless technology, narrowband IoT and low-power wide area networks (LPWA) are playing a key role for new service offerings in the manufacturing industry. In the smart factory of the future, real-time data will enable the autonomous production of individual parts at the cost of mass production. For this to succeed, companies need qualified employees. The bottleneck for the introduction of Industry 4.0 lies less in technology. Rather, it is the people with the right skills to ensure that intelligent value creation is actually introduced successfully.

What’s the added value?

For a smart factory to be successful, it is not enough to simply connect machines, production planning, or Manufacturing Execution Systems (PPS / MES) with an IIoT solution. The work starts much earlier when a company also wants to create real added value with its Industry 4.0 project. The starting point should always be an assessment of how ready a company is for Industry 4.0. Just because a company already uses tablets does not mean that its IIoT maturity level is already particularly high. Very often media breaks, data silos, and data streams that end up in one system, again and again, prevent the creation of value from data and the use of all data where it is urgently needed.

While many companies initially focus only on their production, production planners often forget the external interfaces to suppliers and customers as well as the internal networking with ERP, merchandise management, purchasing, accounting, product development, after-sales, and quality assurance.

At the beginning of an Industry 4.0 project, a systemic view is therefore required to analyze the processes. Building on this, the processes must be adapted based on an IIoT strategy, which includes a detailed description of objectives and functions. The aim is to integrate the entire company, its suppliers, and customers into a fully digitalized end-to-end process.

The goal of this planning phase must be to network all systems and all stakeholders, all data silos, all potential data sources, right through to quality assurance and after-sales processes in a seamless digital Industry 4.0 process chain in the future. In doing so, companies often underestimate the challenges of their many incompatible interfaces. It is true that data is created everywhere. But it must also be understood by all networked systems. After all, data only unfolds its added value if it can also be utilized as needed. This means that every digital device, right down to a torque wrench, must be integrated in a way that it feeds its actual data into the system and can be controlled by it. Only through this consistent end-to-end process chain can production steps be consistently and continuously optimized and transparently monitored even years later in case of a complaint or maintenance. With these complex requirements for a new Industry 4.0 infrastructure, individual disciplines such as the IT department and production planning are often overtaxed by themselves. In each case, there is a lack of know-how and an overview of the whole as well as the company’s boundaries.

An external view is advisable for the Industry 4.0 realization for two other reasons: before hardware and software are purchased, the requirements must be precisely defined and it must also be verified that the planned adaptations to the company’s own processes in IIoT standard solutions such as MindSphere are possible at all and will bring the expected improvements. In addition, employees must also go through learning curves parallel to the process changeover.

Developing Industry 4.0 competencies of employees

After all, for Industry 4.0 innovations to be implemented successfully, employees must be able to keep up with the pace. The basis for this is a management system and an organization in which the dynamism and speed of a holistic and flexible end-to-end process responsibility are lived out. In contrast to industrial mass production, where the same operations, i.e. constant repetition, were always necessary for the manufacture of large numbers of identical products, the employees in an Industry 4.0 production facility need a different attitude and different skills. Agility, interdisciplinarity, and creativity cannot be arranged. Rather, it is a change process that affects the entire company and in which everyone must be empowered to play an active role in shaping it. In an Industry 4.0 production environment, machines, devices, tools, sensors, and people work together and must communicate with each other. Employees must operate the hardware and software, evaluate, interpret, and document data and interact agilely with the IIoT infrastructure. And they have to learn to do this. Parallel to the introduction of Industry 4.0, a qualification initiative must therefore be launched to build up the role-specific skills of employees.

Ideally, the change process of introducing Industry 4.0 should be accompanied by a dedicated training system that prepares all employees for the new world in a timely manner using virtual classrooms and hybrid forms of learning. In security-relevant areas, in addition to training and further education, personnel certifications are also required to be able to provide proof of the employees’ qualifications. The goal must be that with the start of IIoT live operations, all employees have an understanding of the processes and the supporting hardware and software that is adapted to their roles and tasks. Only when these conditions have been met can a company exploit the full potential of its new Industry 4.0 production facility through the interaction of people, technology, and processes.

TÜV Rheinland is one of the few players in the world that can offer integrated Industry 4.0 consulting from a single source. Experts for smart factory work closely with the specialists for competence development and competence measurement in IIoT. TÜV Rheinland is currently offering live online training courses on what digitization and Industry 4.0 mean for their own company and how their own business model can be made even more successful through digital manufacturing services. Experts present use cases to explain selected KPIs and show best practice examples from various industries. More information about an integrated Industry 4.0 strategy can be found here and also in German and Chinese.

Competence Management TÜV Rheinland Academy

Virtual classrooms have been around for a long time, but since Corona, they have become even more popular. Providers of further education like TÜV Rheinland Academy digitalized their regular seminar offer within a short time and modified the training methods and didactics. The aim is to use digital technology effectively for all learning types with Virtual Classrooms (VC).

Training in seminar rooms is only possible with a hygiene concept until a vaccine is discovered. The “physical distancing” is valid indefinitely. However, further occupational training must not be allowed to fall by the wayside. For companies and their employees, there are excellent opportunities, especially now. As long as many companies are still in short-time work, the time can be used to extend the Corona-related learning curves. In times of low workload, investments in the qualification of employees are worthwhile.

Because by building up competence, employers and employees strengthen their competitiveness for the future of work. Furthermore, anyone taking part in further training in a Virtual Classroom from their home office or via mobile device today enjoys a lively learning world with interaction and fun, including simultaneous monitoring of learning success.

From e-Learning to Virtual Classrooms

Concepts and technical solutions for lively, interactive formats of corporate knowledge transfer have been around since the 90s. Synchronous learning media have been part of professional training from the very beginning. Those who spoke of e-learning usually had web-based training in mind. Limiting factors were often the technical infrastructure or the lack of bandwidth. Interaction between participants and trainers took place via chats or telephone conferences.

To support the participants even better in designing their learning environment and learning progress, educational institutions and universities developed Virtual Classrooms, which take place synchronously and live in class. All trainers, moderators, and participants are connected live via webcam and headsets. This opens up educational and methodological possibilities that are almost equal to those of real seminars.

In addition to the traditional whiteboard lecture by a trainer, participants can exchange views in open discussions followed by an online participant survey. This happens in a video conference, which also gets a new liveliness through chats.

Participants can also make their contributions, give speeches, and record presentations or videos from their computers. In addition to this, working groups can be formed; asynchronous newsgroups complement the exchange within the framework of digital learning, which has the great advantage of being able to combine an entire toolset for synchronous and asynchronous learning processes (Blended Learning).

Virtual Classrooms: Immediate feedback for trainers and participants

Because people’s learning behavior is different, some have a short attention span and are easily distracted, which was a particular challenge in the home office during the Corona pandemic and still is in some instances. Some need fixed structures; others prefer to divide up the learning material themselves. In all situations, some form of social interaction is desirable to revive the joy of learning and learning progress. The recurring challenge for education providers and competence partners is to meet all these needs within the framework of digital learning – especially in times of Corona.

Good trainers use the knowledge of the learning types in their courses to adapt their educational modules to these optimally. Impulse presentations of thirty or more minutes, which were common in the past, are divided up into several smaller ones. These can be varied with videos, group work, and flash surveys to involve the participants in the further course of the seminar unit. All in all, the lessons are more interactive, multimedia-based, and sometimes also with playful elements.
Trainers use short one-on-one conversations to check individual learning statuses. In this way, they receive immediate feedback, for example, to close gaps in knowledge early on by repeating the lessons. And even performance assessments can now be carried out in a legally compliant manner using appropriate tools with clear identification.

Digital and conventional training will complement each other even more closely in the future

Even if the practical skills still have to be trained in the future, as in the case of welder training, the necessary theoretical knowledge can certainly be taught in a Virtual Classroom  – possibly supplemented by innovative digital approaches, such as a virtual reality scenario. This allows smaller groups to use available practical training places alternately. In any case, the trainers from TÜV Rheinland Academy have shown during the Corona shutdown that they can also convey previously conventional offerings successfully from their seminar portfolio in Virtual Classrooms.

Above all, feedback from participants also shows that they experienced a lively learning world with interaction and fun. One participant put it in a nutshell: “For two days, I took part in an online seminar at TÜV Rheinland. The tutor was professional, serious, and responsible. Instead of seemingly boring terms and lessons, I experienced enthusiastic explanations that stay in my mind. To every question, the trainer responded in time and with a smile and gave professional answers. And she also asked questions so that we could interact well. The three-day Virtual Classroom has awakened my enthusiasm to continue learning online. ”

Here you can find the current online offer of TÜV Rheinland Academy from Virtual Classrooms to e-learnings by simply choosing your country.

 

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When it comes to the future of work, the Institute for the Future (IFTF) in Palo Alto, California is convinced: “There will be a new partnership between people and machines that increases productivity. Human intelligence cannot be replaced. On the contrary, the work of the future will require new skills from employees.

The potential for future collaboration between humans and artificial intelligence (AI), robots, mobile end devices for augmented reality, and blockchain can already be seen in the existing basic technologies. For the IFTF, this collaboration at the workplace already begins with recruiting. They predict that the partnership of personnel with AI will allow more equitable selection processes to select candidates according to their skills and not according to gender, age or other biographical characteristics. The algorithms would also replace all too human prejudices in the composition of teams with a clear analysis of the machine, which puts together optimal teams from a variety of skills and personal characteristics. This leads to an increase in work productivity, a better working environment, and more intensive employee retention. As many as 67 percent of the managers surveyed by the IFTF can imagine using AI in the future to achieve more equal opportunities.

Future of Work: Enhanced skills through machines

If AI prevents hidden discrimination in personnel work, it will expand and supplement human skills in other contexts of work. For example, 70 percent of IFTF executives would like their employees to work with machines and robots to overcome their human limitations. At BMW’s mini-production facility in Oxford, for example, collaborative robots are already working together with people. Such CoBots are equipped with sensors so as not to injure their flesh and blood colleagues. However, colleague AI could also replace employees if they are not enabled to collaborate with AI. Especially for the use of AI for the analysis of large amounts of data, the employees also need the corresponding skills. In a 2019 study, Price Waterhouse Coopers asked 500 decision-makers which employee skills were relevant for AI use and to what extent. 81 percent felt that employees needed to understand the potential and limitations of AI. 80 percent each mentioned knowledge about secure and transparent AI as well as understanding and knowledge about data-driven business models. Few companies, however, have the correspondingly trained employees. For this reason, the introduction and successful use of AI will only succeed if companies simultaneously qualify their employees for the application. For the AI to be useful as a colleague in a team, it must be programmed with algorithms to suit the task and be equipped with the correctly formulated task to extract useful information from large amounts of data. This also makes it clear that human intelligence has to control what the AI then has to process.

AI deployment will not be successful without human intelligence

This need for training will also be triggered by a third technology that has already made its breakthrough in the gaming sector. Augmented and mixed reality with data glasses or mobile devices will also become established at work in the future, for example in design and planning. 3D visualization in an augmented reality allows building plans to be displayed in a room in which entire teams are simultaneously working on a complex problem. According to experts, the technology has great potential to increase team productivity in development tasks. In the IFTF study, 86 percent of executives said that they were planning to use new technologies to improve employee productivity.

Artificial intelligence will be irreplaceable in many “human” activities in the future: disease diagnosis, language translation, customer service, data analysis, production, design, and maintenance. But the algorithms will be written by humans, who in turn will have to monitor the AI. To achieve this, they need skills that hardly any university teaches today. But without human intelligence, the use of AIs will not be successful. For this, companies must first make their employees fit for AI use.

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Poor management, a lack of conflict, error, and criticism culture can cost a company dearly. Due to the shortage of skilled workers, demographic developments and digitalization, the demand for services related to mental health at the workplace are increasing more and more. ABO psychologists (Industrial and Organizational Psychology), for example, are a valuable support for organizations. But exactly this is their job and what are their strengths?

For a long time, the mental health of employees has received little attention. With the increasing density of work, ever higher demands and increasing burdens due to digital availability, mental health has also been the focus of attention for a few years now. By 2018, German health insurers had reported an ever-increasing number of cases of mental illness. They are now the most common cause of early retirement and occupational disability in Germany and, with 15.2 percent, are still the third most common cause of absenteeism. Poor leadership, a lack of conflict, error and criticism culture are sooner or later a business-critical issue that can endanger the continued existence of the organization. Above all, people can be overloaded to the point of burnout if they are only supposed to function on the factual level during change processes and are not heard. Fears, emotions and internal and external conflicts are still far too rarely discussed.

Looking behind the façade and promoting healthy cooperation

Unlike psychotherapists, ABO psychologists are not clinicians but analyze an organization and its actors at all hierarchical levels from a socio-psychological perspective. The job of an ABO psychologist is to look behind the façade of a company and analyze social relationships and interactions. How do individual people feel when, for example, they constantly experience themselves in change situations as a result of digitalization? To what extent do the demands and reality of a company’s social dealings soften and how does this affect the perception and behavior of employees? How does a manager lead and communicate? Are emotional needs addressed in communication in addition to factual issues, especially in change situations? And how does a company deal with conflicts, mistakes, and fears? Does a manager then also address the relationship levels between conflict parties and works up disturbed relationships in such a way that it can then continue on a healthy working level? ABO psychologists need a pronounced communicative and social competence. They must ask the right questions and above all be able to listen. They must moderate conversations and be emphatic and sympathetic to people of all hierarchies. Above all, they must impart knowledge and methods on how healthy cooperation in companies, departments or teams should and can be successful.

High qualification requirements for ABO psychologists

Ambitious providers recruit only graduates of a diploma or master’s degree course in psychology. In Germany, the subject has a numerus clause of 1.0. Other courses of study in psychology often do not fulfill the specialist and methodological knowledge that is ideally available. One recognizes quality providers by the fact that they submit enterprises no run-of-the-mill-offers, instead these can clarify beforehand, where the pain points are, what the enterprise needs and expects as purposeful solutions. Even though there are only a few legal requirements for ABO psychologists, large providers also attach great importance to the qualification of their colleagues along with the methodological and technical developments in corporate psychology research and practice.

Interdisciplinary cooperation

In 2013, the German legislator also recognized that mental health is a high value in a modern, synchronized and digitalized working world with increasingly older employees. It, therefore, included a guideline in the Occupational Health and Safety Act that all employers, regardless of the size of their company, must regularly carry out a risk analysis of psychological stress at the workplace. However, the guidelines for the implementation of the “Joint German Occupational Safety and Health Strategy” do not stipulate that such risk analysis must be prepared by psychologists. For example, at AMD TÜV it has been agreed that the ABO psychologists will be in charge of the process, will advise on the methodology and will play a key role in supporting communication. Occupational physicians and safety specialists must also be involved. The cooperation in prevention teams with occupational medicine, occupational health and safety, occupational health promotion and occupational integration management is necessary in order to deal with the complex issues relating to occupational health and safety in companies.

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At the Innovation Conference, a high-quality cast symposium discussed the impact of digitalization on the working environment of the future / Exemplary innovation projects demonstrate how to use technology.

On 22 October this year, Markus Dohm, Executive Vice President Academy & Life Care Germany at TÜV Rheinland invited to an ‘Expedition into the future of our working environment’ with more than 200 experts from business, science, and politics at Flora Cologne, Germany. Under the heading ‘Education and Employment 4.0’ high-quality speakers discussed major trends related to the digitization of the economy and its impact on the future of work. Among the participants were in addition to numerous company representatives also CEO of TÜV Rheinland AG Dr. Michael Fübi, TÜV Rheinland CHRO Thomas Biedermann and Professor Dr. Bruno O. Braun, Chairman of the Board of TÜV Rheinland. The event was held under the patronage of Federal Minister Andrea Nahles, whose Ministry published a ‘Green Paper’ on the subject (German language).

Among the prominent speakers was the Archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Rainer Woelki. He stressed in his welcoming speech the importance of education, particularly regarding the integration of the many refugees, and called on the participants to accept more ‘alternative educational biographies’ in the company.

Education and Employment 4.0 at the Innovation Conference

Numerous experts, including Prof. Dr. Jutta Rump, Director of the Institute for Employment and Employability at Ludwigshafen University, and Prof. Dr. Torsten Oltmanns of Roland Berger Strategy Consultants, showed that digitalization will affect much more our working environment and jobs as currently already noticed. Intensive discussions between speakers and participants made clear that the uncertainty about further development in many companies is huge. A conclusion: The continuous training of their employees and high flexibility are becoming increasingly important for companies considering the changes. At the same time, ‘social innovations’ are needed besides the technical ones to exploit the potential of technology usefully and employee-friendly.

How digitization may now be used in everyday business, innovative projects presented on market stalls. Examples were the use of virtual reality in construction projects, new learning concepts for apprentices or new opportunities for ‘social business’ via platforms that bring together employees, customers, and partners. TÜV Rheinland also presented its solutions in the field of Workplace Learning Solutions.

‘We took the participants of the event on an expedition into the still-new terrain of the digitalized working environment to give them the so significant suggestions and impulses on this future issue. In this way, we have managed to raise our profile in front of proven experts as a leading service provider of further education and occupational health management’ says Markus Dohm.

Further information on the innovation conference:
www.tuv.com/innovationstagung (German language)

Competence Management TÜV Rheinland Academy