The future of manufacturing is complex, as data-rich approaches driven by Industry 4.0 technologies shift the types of skills required from workers on factory floors today.
Companies like Denso Corp., a $48.3 billion global automotive parts supplier, are experiencing these tech-forward changes across their manufacturing facilities, especially as the automotive industry braces for disruption from forthcoming trends in electrification and automated driving.
Globally, the Japanese company — or the world's second-largest mobility supplier, as it calls itself — isn't idly standing by as these changes overhaul conventional ways of thinking and doing things in manufacturing.
In 2017, Denso formulated two initiatives to guide its vision for enhanced mobility and safety, while reducing its impact on the environment: the Long-term Policy 2030 and the Long-term Plan 2025.
As part of these efforts, the company is predicting and preparing for a paradigm shift in mobility — what many in automotive now refer to as CASE, or connected, autonomous, shared and electrification. And that means big leaps forward in information and smart technologies, changes in business models and supply chains, and an increased demand for workers who are equipped with advanced skills.
"The things that are happening in the auto industry are going to be greater than we've seen in many, many years in a short period of time," said Kevin Carson, president of Denso Manufacturing Michigan Inc. (DMMI), the company's main thermal systems operation in Battle Creek, Mich., which produces automotive air conditioning and engine cooling components.
"Things are going to go from what we call more of a driving experience to a mobility experience, so what the customers want and what the industry needs are going to be very different," he said in a phone interview with Plastics News.