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POV: M4.0 Cultures



It is said that extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, and the COVID-10 pandemic has by far been the most extraordinary period most manufacturers have faced in their lifetimes. When the initial shock came last spring, many may have been tempted to hunker down and try to just do the minimum needed to survive the crisis.

But they didn’t. As manufacturers suddenly were confronted with everything from disruptions in supply chains, to pivoting to new product lines, to ensuring health and safety on the shop floor, they rose to the occasion in an extraordinary fashion by shoring up the keystones upon which a successful Manufacturing 4.0 corporate culture thrives: collaboration, innovation, and integration.

While the shift toward a digitally enabled, collaborative, innovative, and data-driven workforce culture has been underway for some time, the limitations of the traditional command-and-control hierarchy came into stark relief as a COVID-driven need for resilience, agility, and data-driven processes became increasingly apparent. In response, manufacturers ramped up everything from their enterprise connectivity and digital collaboration tools and platforms, to functional integration strategies and innovation processes.

More importantly, these leaps forward in M4.0 corporate culture are not just temporary measures put in place to deal with the immediate crisis. In fact, they represent a permanent paradigm shift in culture, according to the survey results.

Yes, there are still areas of improvement for even those furthest along in their M4.0 journeys. Culture change is never easy, especially when it requires behavior change from the top down and has to be implemented while also keeping the factory working at maximum capacity. Despite the potential difficulties, however, manufacturers say they intend to double down on their efforts to continue transforming their cultures, from increasing their use of data to make decisions to developing integrative and cross-functional structures that will empower a more collaborative and innovative workforce.

The key to success in all the M4.0 benchmarks, respondents said, was the adoption of M4.0 technologies and approaches to corporate culture. Those who are taking that transformative leap are positioning their companies not just to survive the crisis but to thrive in a post-pandemic world.. – Sue Pelletier


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