Published on in ManufacturingInnovation

People have long been fascinated by the idea that a machine could be intelligent. Not for its own sake, but for our sake. We are a tool making species. Our evolutionary success is based on our ability to find materials and combine them with energy sources to boost our strength, our ability to communicate, and ways to produce more goods over shorter and shorter timescales.

That’s why manufacturing has always been at the heart of modern civilization. We created machines that could make the things we needed and wanted, as well as other (usually better) machines to make even more goods.

At each stage of that development the relationship between the human beings – the machine’s designer, operator and manager – and the technology has been a two-way one. The technology has augment the power of the person. If it doesn’t, then it does not serve a productive purpose.

Think about an accountancy software program – it’s a technology, a virtual machine. It might take over some of the work that an accountant does, but it does not change what the human accountant is for. The human sees the big picture, the software program crunches the numbers and orders them so that decisions can be made based on insights within the data. The software frees the human.

Production line robots enable humans to not only be liberated from onerous physical burdens, but also to do more complex and creative work. That’s good for the wellbeing of workers, and it’s very good for productivity.

Our new whitepaperTransforming Manufacturing: Co-creating the digital factory, emphasizes the point that people must be at the heart of automation to yield the immense potential benefits of industry 4.0. It describes how Fujitsu’s digital factory in Augsburg is at the forefront of the effort to achieve the right balance.

Our approach is founded on a simple, but powerful principle: the machine must free the person to do more creative and high value tasks, whether they’re physical or intellectual.

Simply, people need to feel that they add value to the production process, and are not just cogs in the machine which can be replaced by devices or software. The point is to build a ‘hybrid team’ – people and robots working together in intelligent and seamless ways, supported by data which flows right across the production process, from suppliers to customers and back again.

The whitepaper argues that training and communication across all employees is vital to achieving that outcome. People can see the investment that’s being made into technology, they also need to see that manufacturers are investing in them: in people.

Digital transformation is just as much about people as it is about AI or IoT or advanced robotics. We all need to feel valued and be sure that the technology we use every day at work makes us more human rather than less.

Download the whitepaper now.

This post first appeared on the Fujitsu Global Blog.

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