The Fourth Revolution: Is Industry 4.0 Changing Manufacturers’ Skill Sets for the Better?


In this episode of The Fourth Revolution by Bartell, Pettibone President and CEO Barbara Philibert went into detail on that, when it comes to Industry 4.0, the key to optimizing processes and performance in a global economy is data. “What a universal language data has become,” she said as she recalled a meeting in China where data helped bridge the language barrier.

Growing up in rural Iowa, manufacturing was a simple affair, Philibert said. Reflecting on her 30-year career in the industry, she noted that manufacturing has evolved into a complex and global behemoth, which present benefits and challenges.

The production floor has also undergone a data-influenced transformation. Decades ago, when Philibert would venture onto the job site, the production leads would guide her through the site, physically showing her manufacturing progress. Now they’re using tablet computers to show her how they make it and the data to go along with it.

These small and large shifts toward data usage on the manufacturing floor have created a shift in the workforce. Workers are having to adjust their skill sets to match a more analytical future for the floor, whether that means software usage or data comprehension.

Is the industry ready for this change? Philibert gives her take on the podcast, breaking down how the combination of a generation of workers aging out of the industry and a lack of information around careers in manufacturing is setting the stage for a lack of skilled workers and forcing companies to address the changing standard for manufacturing skills.

The CEO sees how younger employees in manufacturing are natural at using technology, and she advocated for high schools and guidance counselors to encourage more young people to seek long-term careers in the industry. Faced with a current skilled labor shortage, she has some advice for manufacturing companies: “Reach out to the community colleges, reach out to your schools… invite [them] in to show them what we can do.”

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