Wiring Harness News WHN Sept-Oct 2020 WHN Sep-Oct 2020 - Page 12

12 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2020 Wiring Harness News INDUSTRIAL INFO-TAINMENT Technology Adoption Has to Start at the Top - Addressing the Technology Adoption Gap By Paul Hogendoorn __________________________________ It’s been an interesting summer, to say the least. The challenges, solutions and new outcomes brought about by the sudden change in our world are wide ranging, and what ‘normal’ is in the future will be different than what normal was in the past. There is one ‘non-change’, or slow change, that continues to surprise me, and that is slow rate of adoption of digital technology on the plant floor. My assumption was ‘social distancing’, working from home, and the focus on the elimination of unnecessary contact points (i.e. paperwork) would have accelerated the adoption of technologies that have found their place into the rest of our lives – our homes, schools, banks and institutions, and much of our recreational and social activities too – but that hasn’t happened. Not yet, anyway. Prior to Covid, most small and medium manufacturers were contemplating what Industry 4.0 could mean to their company or industry, but few were taking concrete first steps. It was still an investigation for many, and although it was believed to be important, it didn’t seem to be urgent. Then came Covid, and the ability to work from home and monitor machines, production and processes remotely, became increasingly advantageous, stimulating a lot of additional urgent discussions, but still little actual ‘first step’ action from many. There are certainly exceptions to this, but by and large, the adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies by small and medium manufacturers is still Paul Hogendoorn surprisingly slow. The reason for this, in my opinion, is the vision gap between the CEO and the people that any information technology related objectives get delegated to. Most manufacturing company leaders graduated through the ranks of production, or engineering, or perhaps even accounting. Over the course of their careers, they have developed a familiarity and understanding with all of those facets of the operation. The folks immediately below them on the organizational chart share the same basic understanding of those primary elements of the business, although they may specialize in one particular area or another. “IT” however is often considered a ‘service’ to the business, and the people deeply involved in information technology, or considering advanced technologies, are usually far more technology focused than they are day-to-day manufacturing _____________ Continued on page 14