MTM – Work design productive and safe

From Classic Industrial Engineer to Data Scientist – the 2017 German MTM Conference

First of all, the good news: the job of industrial engineers will not vanish into thin air within the context of Industry 4.0. But – and this was the message specifically emphasized by Prof. Dr. Jochen Deuse, Head of the Institute for Production Systems at the Technical University of Dortmund and a speaker at the German MTM Conference in Stuttgart on 26 October 2017 – the tasks involved in the fields of studying work and time and designing work and production systems will change; there will be new procedures and fields of action beyond what are now classic methods and tools – in fact, industrial engineering will become data science. 

Deuse is expecting massive effects from data science – that is to say, the derivation of knowledge and actions from data, particularly in the white-collar sphere – i.e. in services, administration and management. In his view, the new fields of action for data scientists will include things like quality forecasts, predictive maintenance, estimates of bottlenecks using a machine-monitored learning approach, automatic transaction logging and assessment - and MTM is working on this with cooperation partners – movement studies including ergonomics assessments (e.g. MTM-HWD®) and prospective time determination using data analysis. Two things are indispensable, in the opinion of the Head of the Institute: A knowledge of domains and “the readiness on the part of experts to open up to these new things – just as was the case when the issue of “lean” first appeared.”

From method expertise to digital expertise
Manfred Laier, the Head of the MTM Software Business Unit, placed the generation of MTM analyses within the context of Industry 4.0. His motto is: from method expertise to digital expertise with MTM! The transaction data required for an MTM analysis, for example, will be logged using new technologies like virtual reality, 3D simulation and sensor technology; MTM is cooperating in this field with partners that exhibited their products and services at the technical exhibition at the German Conference. Another issue that Laier emphasized was a software solution that is designed to make it easier for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to gain access to the MTM application. Its central feature is an MTM cloud for calculating and assessing TARGET/ACTUAL figures in real time and making available MTM process data in MTM’s TiCon4 software, regardless of which sector is involved.

E-learning platform offers global access to MTM training
Prof. Dr. Peter Kuhlang, Head of the MTM Institute, presented another highlight. Deutsche MTM-Vereinigung e. V. (German MTM Association) is currently developing a web-based platform for training in MTM principles (MTM-1), regardless of where people are located or what time it is, to enable all the interested parties around the world to gain access to certified MTM training. Those attending the German Conference had an opportunity to take a first look at the new e-learning tool, which will guarantee standard training in MTM-1 internationally in the future.

“Process thinking should play a far greater role”
According to a survey of German industrial corporations conducted by VDI Technologiezentrum GmbH, technology-driven digitalization concepts have been the dominating force so far – i.e. concepts where people are not the primary focus, according to Dr. Norbert Malanowski, Senior Consultant on Innovation Policy. “However, keeping the three elements of people, technology and organization and appropriate qualification concepts in mind is the precondition for success in the process of digital transformation.” Malanowski presented a model-like concept for further training that has been developed in the technology center and tested in practice. Those involved in this trial run were real workers at SMEs at a medium specialist level and those with few qualifications. “The aim was to help the participants,” Malanowski said, “to discover the digital world, pick up on their everyday knowledge and expand this with practical examples from the corporation. Process thinking should play a far greater role.” Malanowski arrived at the following conclusion. “Industry 4.0 is a huge challenge for SMEs, because their daily business is very different from that of major players.”

Digitalization is a necessity for corporations
“The future of work is work with digital technology,” said Dr. Detlef Gerst, Head of the Future of Work Department on the Board of the IG Metall Union, emphasizing his point. “In this respect, digitalization is neither a risk or an opportunity, but simply a necessity for corporations. What digitalization means for the employees depends, in turn, on the shape of the work in Industry 4.0. We need a purposefully managed, reflected modernization process,” Gerst noted. “This process must be dominated by the balance between entrepreneurial requirements and those of the employees as well as a fresh understanding of learning for the entire organization. Of course, solutions must be specific to individual corporations, but, from a union point of view, there needs to be a higher-level mission statement entitled “Good work,” Gerst added. “Where do I want to go with the organization – and with the employees?”

Digitalization and SMEs: what are the benefits, the costs and when does it pay off?
Is digitalization just a topic for the major players – while SMEs look on and stand on the sidelines? “Not on the sidelines, but in a perplexed state,” said Kai Schweppe, Head of the Labor Policy Department at the Südwestmetall Employers’ Association. “SMEs already understand the opportunities presented by digitalization, but they’re asking themselves: How can I make use of it? For these are the key issues in the SME sector: What are the benefits, the costs and when does it pay off? The Employers’ Association is recommending its approx. 800 member corporations, of which about 80 percent employ less than 500 workers, not to allow technology to dictate their actions, but to ask what they wish to achieve through digitalization. Once the enterprise has identified sensible technologies, they should be introduced with all those involved. And that means qualified project management has to be in place too,” Schweppe added.

Mobile applications in Industry 4.0
Rapid, isolated solutions are often better than time-intensive, complete solutions,” said Dr. Hubert Weid, Managing Director of mobivention GmbH. This is one of ten golden rules for ensuring that the use of mobile applications in Industry 4.0 will actually achieve success, in his view. The app developer also advised those attending the German Conference to take time with regard to the issue of “user interfaces.” “WhatsApp, Google, Spotify, Amazon & Co are now the benchmarks for designing industrial apps.” Weid recommended one app for one field of application, with perhaps two or three additional functions, but “no single jack of all trades,” when questioned from the auditorium.

Leaders do not work in the corporation – they work on it
Dr. Dieter Lange, one of whose jobs is to coach the executive boards of well-known corporations, provided the finale at the 2017 German MTM Conference. “90 percent of digitalization projects fail, ‘because the emotional link to the digital world is missing’ and therefore the message doesn’t reach people’s hearts,” Lange observed. “However, the most successful companies have this kind of link.” Lange took his audience on a journey into themselves. “Those, who wish to lead people through the current process of change, must first be able to lead themselves. Self-awareness – being aware of yourself, knowing who you are – and personal responsibility are essential here. After all, ‘leaders do not work in the corporation, they work on it,” he said.

“MTM goes digital” technical exhibition
A very large number of people visited the technical exhibition that was linked to the conference.  Rüdenauer 3D Technology GmbH and AXS Motionsystem presented new technologies for logging transaction data on a joint stand with the MTM Software Center under the motto “MTM goes digital.” Other corporations taking part in the technical exhibition included Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG, plavis GmbH, memex GmbH, VITAL DINAMIC and INNOV8 s.r.o. Deutsche MTM-Gesellschaft presented a benchmark project in the field of logistics. The Institute for Applied Ergonomics (ifaa) and the MTM Institute with research partners were there to provide academic input.

You can find impressions of the 2017 German MTM Conference here.

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