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Using innovative work organisation to accommodate the shift in personnel tasks due to digitalisation and deploying digitalisation tools to support operators

Why this project?

Digitisation is moving forward very quickly in the food industry and this brings a lot of challenges along with it. Digital transformation goes hand in hand with a skill revolution. There is a shift in skills whereby the combination of soft skills and digital know-how are essential. 

These new technologies mean new adaptations for employees. The relationship between various tasks in an organisation will change and digitisation requires more than just simply implementing a particular technology. It is therefore very important to include the human factor in this process. There are two crucial questions here. 

  • What will the impact of digitisation be on the job content and well-being of the operators on the work floor? What stress factors play a role and how can we implement these technological innovations to support operators and eliminate stress/tension caused by altered job content and expectations. 
  • How can digital tools be implemented to ensure unskilled employees can function optimally in an increasingly complex production environment as a solution to the scarcity of tech-savvy people on the labour market. 

Research approach

Operator 4.0 is a collective research, development and dissemination project with the objective of inspiring companies and teaching them methods for taking the human factor into account in their digitisation trajectory. Specifically, with this project we want to: 

  • Develop two demonstrators for the food industry to make the link between digital innovation and impact on people tangible and demonstrable 
  • Develop methods for the analysis, support and evaluation of labour organisational aspects regarding digitisation actions 
  • Publish a manual ‘Operator 4.0 in the food industry’ with concrete tips and tricks on how to implement digital tools in an optimum manner as support on the work floor along with additional testimonials 
  • Disseminate the obtained knowledge to businesses through workshops, newsletter articles, etc. and collectively initiate and monitor follow-up trajectories at businesses aimed at short-term implementations. 

Target group and expected results 

The project is geared towards companies related to the food sector, but it can inspire other sectors to think about the human factor of digitisation. More specifically, the target group for this project is: 

  • Food companies 
  • Technology providers 
  • Organisation advisers 

With the Operator 4.0 project, we want to help food companies take a step towards the factory of the future. Therefore, we also encourage the companies to apply the tips and tricks that are proposed in this project in their own digitisation projects. The efficiency can also only increase with a good collaboration between technology and operators. 

Project Partners

Flanders’ FOOD manages and coordinates the project.  
Responsibility for the execution:  

  • Workitects, under the supervision of Lieven Eeckelaert 
  • Sirris, under the supervision of Christophe Michiels 
  • ILVO, under the supervision of Karen Verstraete 
  • Subcontractor Alimento, under the supervision of Lieve Ruelens
Logo workitects
Logo sirris
alimento logo
Flanders' FOOD logo