Social Networked Industry

Hello colleague robot: Humans & technology in a team

On the way to the Social Networked Industry

The vision of a human-centered Social Networked Industry is a task for the whole of society, in which experts from a wide range of disciplines work together on an equal footing. The goals are ambitious: they range from increasing production and resource efficiency and the flexibility of logistical processes and systems, to increasing the transparency of decisions and processes, to adapting business organization to preferred work and life models and, as a result, to increasing employee satisfaction. Fraunhofer IML is working in numerous initiatives and projects to implement this positive vision of the future.

Our picture of the future

Working life of the future will be characterized by the Social Networked Industry. Intelligent devices such as data glasses or tablets enable employees to interact with intelligent and networked machines. This forms social networks that connect people and technology in a new and innovative way - the result is a Social Networked Industry. The overall target is to create a future of work in the areas of production and logistics which is worth living and where humans become conductors of entire systems.

Current changes in industrial and private environments inspire the development towards a Social Networked Industry. Dynamic communication channels - which people already use naturally in their private lives - are the model for developments in industry. Social networks connect people across national and cultural borders, are decentralized, intuitive, scalable, emotional and an integral part of everyday life. This concept is now applied to the cooperation of humans and machines in order to achieve the goal of a (digital) networked industry..

© Fraunhofer IML
© Fraunhofer IML
© Fraunhofer IML

Working life of the future will be characterized by the Social Networked Industry

The Social Networked Industry serves humans

A Social Networked Industry therefore means a combination of autonomous human and machine entities which form a functioning network. These networks will be more dynamic in the future and often emerge ad hoc to solve a specific problem. This is already evident today in the dissolution of classic linear value chains and the need for dynamic value creation networks. Spontaneous networking and the rapid establishment of new structures are urgently needed within companies and beyond their borders. This new form of human-machine communication makes it possible to combine the positive unique selling points of humans and machines (flexibility and creativity with efficiency). This creates a completely new socio-technical system that (re)places people at the centre of logistics.


The Social Networked Industry needs humans

By working on this vision, we are creating our own working life of the future. This strengthens the role of humans who are relieved of error-prone activities and whose satisfaction is reinforced. The human is the conductor of the entire system. Based on their experience, humans control and coordinate the environment and share their knowledge with people and machines.

© Fraunhofer IML
© Fraunhofer IML
© Fraunhofer IML

The Social Networked Industry must train humans

Job and task profiles will change as a consequence of these technical and organizational changes. Lifelong learning is one of the key success factors in preparing people for their new role. The resulting understanding and self-confidence are a decisive factor in promoting acceptance of technology.

Production and resource efficiency can only be achieved through better networking and coordination between companies. This means, for example, avoiding empty runs and cooperative utilization of machines and systems (shared warehouse). The increase in flexibility leads to a faster ability to react to changed processes or market conditions. Increasing transparency in operational processes helps to make decisions comprehensible and to clarify their effects on downstream processes. The advantages of these developments are demonstrated in assistance and expert systems. The adaptation of the business organization to favored and above all individual working and living models of the employees can be found in common shift planning tools that function according to the "Doodle" principle.