Quality Skills in Industry 4.0

Juran Blog

Industry 4.0 – or the fourth industrial revolution – refers to a new phase of technological and industrial development which focuses on automation, connectivity, real-time data and machine learning. The Industry 4.0 manufacturing space is essentially a “smart factory,” with an emphasis on automation and the relay of data and instructions between equipment, sensors and other smart devices to allow for autonomous, decentralized decision-making.

One of the challenges of Industry 4.0 is that smart factories produce unprecedented volumes of data – quantities that would have been unimaginable two or three decades ago. This means that quality professionals are going to have to give consideration to the skill sets they choose to develop in order to meet the demands of the Industry 4.0 environment.

Challenges faced by Industry 4.0

One of the primary quality challenges in Industry 4.0 is extracting meaningful insights from voluminous data for analysis, utilizing what are sometimes called “cognitive technologies” – that is, technologies that can perform tasks that would traditionally require human intelligence.

Due to high-capacity storage becoming ever more readily available, large data sets can be exploited using artificial intelligence models and machine learning. Cloud-based, cloud-sourced and open-source analytics software are helping to deliver analytical improvements at an unprecedented rate. Advanced analytics tools allow for analysis of data on a real-time or near real-time basis, facilitating more agile decision-making. However, massive data volumes have the potential to increase the risk of wrong decisions.

Challenges can arise when flaws in the models or data collected lead to inaccurate analysis. Organizations also need to ensure their tech is up to the demands of the Industry 4.0 environment – legacy systems may be incapable of analyzing the unstructured data generated in this environment. The batch-oriented processing approach utilized by traditional analytics software may also be incapable of managing the real-time data produced in Industry 4.0.

What are the skills needed to make the most of Industry 4.0?

In the landscape of ongoing technological advancements and increasing autonomous decision-making, organizations need people with the correct skill sets to interpret and use the data being produced, to inform both human-based and machine-based decision-making. In the age of Industry 4.0, it becomes all the more important that quality professionals are versed in the processes, tools and techniques that can successfully deliver quality and drive improvement. We see two of the key skills sets for quality in Industry 4.0 as being Lean Six Sigma and DMAIC.

Lean Six Sigma is a system that combines the process improvement methodology of Lean – which is primarily concerned with the reduction or elimination of waste in processes – and Six Sigma, which focuses on identifying and fulfilling the needs of customer first, and the organization second. DMAIC, meanwhile, is a quality improvement and problem-solving system based on the base methodology: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control.

We predict that Lean Six Sigma and DMAIC will play an increasingly important part in managing quality in Industry 4.0 – alongside a solid understanding of other core concepts. Advanced data analysis techniques – such as big data analytics and process mining – that are suited to large data sets will be necessary for effective quality management going forward.

Skills demand

While it can sometimes be difficult to predict with accuracy what skills are being sought within the quality environment of Industry 4.0 – or Quality 4.0 as some have coined it – some rudimentary research with AI job-matching marketplace ZipRecruiter reveals that 66% of results linked to Industry 4.0 also contain the search phrase “quality,” indicating that quality management is a highly sought after skill set within the Industry 4.0 movement.

SkillResults (as fetched 20/05/19)Source
Industry 4.0 5,560Link
Industry 4.0 + Quality3,680Link
Industry 4.0 + Continuous Improvement631Link
Industry 4.0 + Lean614Link
Industry 4.0 + Sigma265Link

Other searches paired with “continuous improvement” and “Lean,” as well as Six Sigma-based terms, strongly suggest that on the skills market there exists a need for Industry 4.0 professionals with Lean, continuous improvement and Six Sigma backgrounds.