The change of the nature of work with IoT


"Internet of Things".

The IoT describes a dynamic network of physical and and virtual objects that contain embedded technologies for communication, intelligent perception and interaction with their environment and interaction with their environment

The basic idea is the pervasiveness of a multitude of things, such as RFID chips, sensors and cell phones, which can be addressed individually.

addressable. These are capable of communicating autonomously with each other and working together to achieve a common goal.. As a result, the human factor

factor will increasingly take a back seat in the use of the Internet, while objects will move to the foreground. This far-reaching development will create revolutionary business models for

companies of all sizes in a wide range of industries. Among other things, it will create service-based business models so that, for example, machines can be organized.

One example is how machines can organize their own maintenance.

In order for companies to to shape their business models for the future, there needs to be clarity about the most important trends and developments within the Internet of Things.


Due to the advancing technology development and the changing services offered in the context of the IoT, almost all processes within the company and the business environment are subject to an increasing need for adaptation and change.

Knowledge of the current issues is therefore of existential importance for setting the course for the future.


Digitization and networking within a single facility or a group of machines have been around in production for a long time. With IoT Data and information are becoming "raw materials" from which potential for new business models is emerging. Production systems are not only intelligently networked within a production facility. A company's systems also communicate with systems of suppliers and customers in the production value chain, as well as in design and engineering (of product and production system) and in the service value chain (when product is in use). As a result, the systems can react to deviations independently and according to the situation throughout the production and service process.


The transformations of Industry 4.0, are happening in virtual space. A digital image of the physical world is being created. This is not only used to plan production processes, but also enables critical situations to be resolved quickly: Semi-finished products (production parts) are often not at the planned location in the specified quantity, machines do not have the planned runtime, production employees with the necessary qualifications for the workflow are not available, etc. As a result, plant or production managers often have to spend 80% of their working time trying to reconcile planning with the reality of day-to-day operations. There is a lack of real-time transparency.


It will also change industrial value creation through collaboration between humans and machines, but above all also machines among themselves. Comparable to social networks on the Internet, intelligent machines and production parts exchange information with each other and with people in order to organize themselves independently and jointly coordinate processes and deadlines. The goal is to achieve higher-level optimization: faster throughput times, higher quality and the best possible capacity utilization in production.


This development raises questions: Will we still have work in the future? What will it look like? How will it be distributed? One thing is certain: Industry 4.0 puts people back at the center of production. As the bearer of experience and decision-maker, he controls and monitors the production processes of the value chain. To a certain extent, humans will be replaced by robots, which will take over physically demanding or monotonous tasks. Alternatively, he receives assistance for mental work via so-called smart devices. With the help of data glasses, for example, the worker can "virtually" expand his view of the real factory. Such assistance systems can also be adapted to the individual capabilities and needs of the worker and offer the potential to integrate older people into working life for longer or to introduce inexperienced workers to demanding production processes.


With regard to the quality of work, the use of IoT technologies initially brings increasing qualification requirements for the operation of devices and systems.

Simple workplaces will be equipped with man-machine interfaces, which pose new challenges for existing employees. In pilot projects RFID in internal logistics, for example, show that handhelds for logistics control cannot be used without additional qualification efforts.

These are largely adaptive qualifications that have to be implemented as part of in-company training. In the medium term, however, job profiles and thus initial training will also change. The IoT will have to be integrated to a greater extent into a wide range of training courses (e.g. in the care sector).


However, the qualifications required will not only change in terms of specialist technical skills. Highly automated production processes require specific skills from the operating personnel. The control stations in the chemical industry already show how stressful the monitoring of highly automated production processes can be: In regular operation, the operating and maintenance personnel are left with a relatively monotonous monitoring activity, but in exceptional cases, workers have to react very quickly and in complex reaction.


At the moment, it is still too early to make precise estimates of the job losses and gains that will be caused by the Internet of Things. This makes it all the more important to identify possible developments at an early stage and to formulate requirements for the use of the Internet of Things from a trade union and management perspective. The aim must be to understand innovation in terms of employees as well, plan and implement innovation in the interests of employees.


A second interdisciplinary topic with high relevance for trade unions concerns the effects of the Internet of Things on the organization of work in an overarching sense. The scenarios of the Internet of Things are based on the assumption that as many objects as possible will be "endowed with intelligence. This intelligence is to be decentralized, but at the same time connected to form a complex whole. For many processes (e.g., cross-process-chain logistics, production), truly centralized control will only become possible through the IoT. Management decisions can be made at a higher level, employees at a lower process level potentially lose autonomy, the "intelligence" of the technology takes away responsibility and freedom of decision-making at the work level.


At the same time, "smart" technology enables the decentralization of processes. Telemedical applications are likely to lead to a strengthening of home care, and the remote monitoring and maintenance of machines offers the prerequisite for offering corresponding services regardless of location. However, these decentralization options also lead to changed expectations of service providers. It is possible, and thus potentially also expected, to be on call 24 hours a day, which may have to be realized in completely new employment relationships. This could lead to formally independent service providers taking on these tasks in unsecured employment relationships. In addition to the labor law

In addition to problems in labor law, the decentralization of work also changes social conditions, individual integration decreases, social contacts diminish, and internal commitment and trade union work become more difficult.


Privacy and data protection

The problem of data protection and privacy (informational self-determination) in the Internet of Things is based on the autonomy and density of numerous processes based on networked, intelligent systems. Very many interactions in the Internet of Things are not consciously perceived by humans, so that in the case of the user, there is neither explicit consent to activities nor knowledge of the possible consequences of the respective action can be assumed. In addition, very large amounts of data are generated, which makes it easy to automatically collect and analyze personal or person-related data.

In contrast, informational self-determination is intended to guarantee individuals control over their data in various situations. With regard to personal data, the maxims to strive for are data economy, purpose limitation of data and transparency of data processing. This means that the data subject can overlook the storage and processing of his or her data and has consented to it.

These principles of data protection come up against limits in the Internet of Things. The expected multiplication of data processing operations in many areas of life alone exceeds the possible attention of users. In addition, applications of the Internet of Things are intended to support people in many everyday actions in the background and thus imperceptibly. No one would accept having to receive thousands of daily instructions

or notifications every day when carrying out everyday activities, and to have to confirm them if necessary.


Following the implementation of Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM), a second wave of "digitalization of production" could be on the horizon at present. The first stage would be the "digital factory", in which all data relevant to planning and control are available digitally: Digital product descriptions, digital models of the production facilities, machines, tools, etc. In a second step, the "smart factory" could be created on this basis. Here, Internet of Things technologies are added, such as RFID chips on all moving objects (workpieces, raw material containers, etc.). objects (workpieces, raw material containers, tools, devices). The combination of the technologies of the Internet of Things with the digital factory models then allows a digital representation of the complete production process in real time: monitoring, control and planning functions, which can also be increasingly automated.

One concept conceivable in the future is the "self-organizing factory" whose parts are autonomous, intelligent artificial "agents" that automatically regulate all organizational functions among themselves and also make individual mass production (batch size 1) seem realistic from a cost perspective.

In the short term, the Internet of Things is not expected to have any particularly strong effects on the demand for labor, and the impact on the content of work is - on balance - at least probably not negative. In the medium and long term, however, the situation may be significantly different in both respects if, for example, it is possible to succeeds in automating to a greater extent planning and organizational functions that are still performed by people today.





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