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Smart factories set new demands on work

Published: 31 July 2018

Swedish metallurgy industry is facing a technological development leap, which set new demands on the employees and how to organize the work. Researchers at Luleå University of Technology are now investigating how to prepare for the fourth industrial revolution.

The project "Attractive Workplaces through Industry 4.0" is funded by Vinnova, SSAB and the trade union IF Metall with a total of five million SEK.

Industry 4.0 is a new industrial concept where all machines are connected through internet-based system solutions, can communicate with each other and make decisions. This means that the factories can become almost completely autonomous in the future. Therefore will the demands and professional skills of the current and future work force change.

Three focus groups

The research focuses on three groups: process operators, maintenance staff and entrepreneurs.

– The importance of advanced monitoring and maintenance increases as factories become more and more automated. At the same time, digitalization creates potential to decentralize the control of production, perhaps even to another country. This means that we need to find new ways to organize the work.

More control room work with more qualified tasks leads probably to a safer working environment. Hopefully these changes can attract more women to the steel industry, but it is not self-evident. It is something that the industry has to work actively for.

– Technology is still quite associated with men and masculinity, especially in male dominated industries. In this project, we will seek ways to avoid such connections.

– If computer systems take care of almost everything it might lead to unmotivated process operators. This research is about preparing for a sustainably transition to Industry 4.0. We work in close collaboration with SSAB and the trade union and believe that we can find good solutions in how to design future attractive workplaces in a high-tech industrial context, concludes Jan Johansson.


Jan Johansson

Jan Johansson, Professor

Phone: +46 (0)920 491412
Organisation: Human Work Sciences, Humans and Technology, Department of Social Sciences, Technology and Arts
Lena Abrahamsson

Lena Abrahamsson, Professor and Head of Subject, Chaired Professor

Phone: +46 (0)920 492107
Organisation: Human Work Sciences, Humans and Technology, Department of Social Sciences, Technology and Arts