Sep 13, 2016 Go with the flow

The future of work – Humans and machines working in cooperation

Juha Turunen
Juha Turunen
Sales Director Accenture Digital Analytics & IIoT
The Industrial Internet of Things, or IIoT, is thoroughly changing the way we work. While production is becoming more and more automated, the human element remains as important as ever. The focus of human work is shifting towards knowledge-based tasks: expert personnel interface with intelligent machines, employing new digital skills and seizing the opportunities offered by digitalization.

The topic of this post is industrial work and how it is changing due to digitalization. This is a very sensitive topic, because people anticipate the change either with fear or with optimism. Some might even require convincing that industrial robots can co-exist (cobots) with industrial workers in the same space. Manufacturing companies expect that within the next five years the focus of technology in the production industry will evolve from human- to machine-centric. At the same time companies such as Mercedes have announced that in some cases, such as the Mercedes S-class, they will in fact be increasing the number of people working on assembly due to extensive customization possibilities that simply need humans to address them.

Cobots handle routine tasks, humans program and develop

Our studies have shown that routine jobs are increasingly being replaced by automated systems. At the same time human job descriptions are becoming more knowledge-based, with technology in an assisting role. Industrial workers are becoming industrial knowledge workers, interfacing with intelligent equipment. Not all jobs in manufacturing are disappearing and new jobs are being created in R&D, programming, sales and smart services. Also, the new core capabilities of the modern industrial worker will include the capability to co-work with, program and teach cobots.

Technology changes how we work, and how we work influences technology. The benefits of the IIoT are not realized unless operational models and work practices change. This requires collaboration between industrial equipment manufacturers and their customers. Companies will find new solutions and sales, while the customer benefits from more efficient operations and asset management, which in turn translates into cost savings.

Collaboration is the key

Industrial companies should evaluate and seek opportunities to introduce new IoT-based ways of working to increase the digital capabilities of their personnel. Parallel to this, companies should seek collaboration and share information about equipment in order to bring about new, mutual process improvements. Sharing and combining data often makes it more valuable for both supplier and customer.

Get the full story

The full article on this topic, "From tools to cobots and intelligent instrumentation", was published in Metso’s customer magazine, Results flow control, issue 1/2016 (pages 10-13). It is the third article in a series that looks into the opportunities that the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) presents to companies such as Metso. To receive a personal copy of the magazine, please contact your nearest Metso office or email

Read the previous articles in the series:

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Jari Riihilahti, VP, Technology, Metso: IoT presents opportunities for both our customers and us

We view technologies like the IoT and 3D printing as enabling technologies for Metso. New service concepts, in particular, would benefit from new data and knowledge. Ten years from now when we look back at today, I suspect we will see this period as the beginning steps of the true digital journey. The opportunities are huge.


‘Customer first’ is a good principle to do business by. Many customers are keen to develop new solutions with technology and service providers like Metso. Many new innovations have already been developed in close cooperation with our customers.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a megatrend that everybody is talking about. It is a cycle that starts with the data. We are continuously provided with new information. Through learning and interpretation, that information is transformed into knowledge and expertise. At Metso we integrate knowledge, people and solutions to develop new innovations and services.

As an equipment manufacturer, Metso is in a key position to enhance process performance by means of new technologies. The IoT is great news for equipment, but an even better opportunity for services.

For Metso, the IoT offers a new building block. By combining the IoT with our core technologies, we can offer even more added value to our customers. All this progress does not come overnight. It takes time, but it will still happen much faster than many would think. We just need to have a clear vision and recognize the opportunities before us.

Jari Riihilahti, Vice President, Technology, Metso