Digitalization requires new roles and capacities
Security in a complex and networked work environment is one of today’s key requirements. New forms of communication allow us to work, regardless of location, at any time we like. The ever-increasing digitalization is not only radically changing our work processes and the way we work together, but is also re-aligning the requirements for professional qualifications.
In the following interview experts from W&H discuss the challenges and opportunities of the digital transformation and how these have already been accepted and exploited in the company. The discussion with Dipl.-Ing. Johann Eibl, Dr Michael Reiter and Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Bernd Fleischmann describes the very specific tasks faced by the development, product management and production divisions of the company.
Dipl.-Ing. Eibl, what changes do you expect for research and development with the digital transformation?
Dipl.-Ing. Johann Eibl: Digitalization will of course demand quite different qualifications for employees. We will depend greatly on the readiness of our employees to participate actively in further training and we will provide suitable instruction and training opportunities to support them. We will also actively seek out applicants with the best qualifications for working in a networked environment.
I also consider that adaptation of our development processes will be an important factor. We face the challenge of the optimal linkage of agile software processes with the regulatory requirements and rigidly structured processes required by medical technology. Product lifecycle management will also become more complex in future with a much wider range of products. Our ability to access and modify customers’ digital products at any time will also generate a variety of different models throughout the service life of products. We will need the appropriate tools and systems to be able to manage this variety and complexity.
Dr Reiter, where do you see the challenges in the management of digital projects?
Dr. Michael Reiter: We will have to integrate our customers into the innovation process much more than before. This may be extended to the point that our customers will actually participate in the development of some solutions. We develop with users for users and this ensures optimal alignment to the requirements of the market. One great advantage of digital solutions is that they generate feedback from the market at a very early stage. We can use the feedback for continuous optimization of the impact of our product solutions. I consider that there are particular challenges for the “product owner” and project managers of digital solutions in dealing with complexity and agility and in intensive cooperation with others from different fields.
… and what forms do you think work will take in the future with the implementation of digital projects?
Dr. Michael Reiter: One example is that we are establishing completely new work environments, such as our digital workshop. These modern work spaces are designed to promote interdisciplinary cooperation. They are designed to promote learning, experimentation or development in teams. Depending on the requirements, our employees are free to decide whether they want to work in peace in the library, or whether they prefer to use the workbench and take part in discussions with colleagues, or whether they use the rooms to work with customers on the development of new innovations.
Mr Fleischmann, the changes to the range of products are also posing new challenges in the areas of production and assembly. What changes to production practices are expected at W&H in the near future and what will this mean for the requirements for employees?
Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Fleischmann: Of course we want to increase the networking of our modern production systems. We are not only interested in synergies at the technological level but also we expect a technological advance in the area of efficiency and product innovation. Our employees are already more familiar with digital systems than would normally be expected of a skilled worker. As with the wide range of types of digital products, our task is to use increasingly networked processes for a wide range of new work processes.
In the next few years we will be increasing our expertise especially in the fields of CNC, IT and industrial engineering. We expect our employees to be able to think in interdisciplinary terms and we expect them to pursue a dual path in further training. The range of knowledge required in the future will only increase.
Thank you for your time!
New challenges and opportunities
Dipl.-Ing. Johann Eibl, Dr Michael Reiter and Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Bernd Fleischmann discuss the new tasks. The best way of meeting the challenges of digitalization is to require new employee qualifications for working in a networked business environment.