March 31, 2021

Empowering Workers to Innovate

Augmented reveals the stories behind the new era of industrial operations, where technology will restore the agility of frontline workers. 

In episode 11 of the podcast, the topic is: Empowering Workers to Innovate. Our guest is  Robin Dechant, Founder, Future of Manufacturing Community.

In this conversation, we talk about Why Robin is so deeply interested in Manufacturing Innovation at such a ripe, young age? Also, how do you define manufacturing innovation? Why is it relevant now? Why should young people be excited about manufacturing? Why is upskilling so fundamental? What should people know about his new 'The Future of Manufacturing' community? How to scale upskilling? What’s next in the digital factory in the next 20 years.

After listening to this episode, check out the  as well as Robin Dechant's social profile.

  • Future of Manufacturing Community:
  • Robin Dechant (@robindchnt):

My takeaway is that Robin Dechant represents the future of manufacturing. He is young, he is deeply engaged in innovation, he tracks startups, talks to the whole community and wants to improve the ecosystem and is passionate about upskilling. Robin is an i4.0 native, one of many we will follow on this podcast.

Thanks for listening. If you liked the show, subscribe at or in your preferred podcast player, and rate us with five stars. If you liked this episode, you might also like episode 2, How to Train Augmented Workers or episode 3 Reimagine Training. Augmented--the industry 4.0 podcast.



Trond Arne Undheim, Host: [00:00:00] Augmented reveals to stories behind a new era of industrial operations, where technology will restore the agility of frontline workers. In episode 11 of the podcasts, the topic is empowering workers to innovate. Our guest is Robin Dechant, founder of the Future of Manufacturing community. In this conversation, we talk about why Robin is so deeply interested in Manufacturing innovation at such a ripe young age.

[00:00:30] Also, how do you define Manufacturing innovation and why is it relevant now? Why should young people be excited about Manufacturing? Why is up-skilling so fundamental? What should people do no about this new future of Manufacturing community and what's next in the digital factory. And the next 20 years, Augmented is a podcast for leaders hosted by futurist, thrown on it and hype presented by to the duck co the Manufacturing.

[00:01:00] Apple platform and associated with MFG works. The Manufacturing upskilling community launched at the World Economic Forum, each episode dives deep into a contemporary topic of concern across the industry and airs at 9:00 AM. Us Eastern time, every Wednesday, Augmented the industry 4.0 podcast. Robin, how are you doing today?

[00:01:24] Hi, very good. It's sunny here in Berlin and I'm excited to be here. Yes. So Robin, you are an exciting young person who is deep, deeply passionate about Manufacturing. And I know that you previously worked at 0.9 capital invested in a bunch of early stage Manufacturing on digital. Startups, but you have this very particular interest in tracking the environment more broadly and a lot about the startup environment and you have engaged on industry trends in manufacturing, and I know you're building something.

[00:01:58] Knew that's what your LinkedIn profile says. We'll get into what the new is. That's the most exciting thing to have on your LinkedIn profile, by the way. That's easy. That's easy. Let's get into it. You also have a master's in industrial engineering from Karlsruhe I B I believe so.

[00:02:17]You seem passionate about Manufacturing. Let's start with that. You're young and you're passionate about Manufacturing and you were, you've been Forum for several years. That's not, it's not rare, but it's also not the first thing

[00:02:31] Robin Dechant: [00:02:31] I agree. And I think actually, unfortunately it's rare. I'd say at least if I look at my, my friends who went to university with me, very few people actually went into Manufacturing.

[00:02:41] Like most of them, they went into consulting. They went into tech, but somehow Manufacturing is not cool anymore. Thank you. No, you and me and then a few other people, I think we would love to change that. And at least you are young, but I think we share the same mission. Yes. Yes. That's good. So w why there's interest then in, in Manufacturing, in a, it will in Manufacturing overall, and then obviously for you specifically in manufacturing, innovation, why do you have this interest?

[00:03:10] So I think it starts where I grew up. I grew up in South, on Germany, literally in the countryside, a small village with 2000 people. And everybody like works for a small manufacturing company. And then this was also one of the reasons why I started studying industrial engineering and management to really, understand more actually what's behind.

[00:03:28] And the first to be really honest, the first internships I did at big manufacturing companies, they were really frustrating. So when I entered, these companies and I was going to the shop floor, I was really impressed just by the sheer size. These big machines, you have the robots, like that's really cool stuff.

[00:03:46] But where I got frustrated was it was really slow moving. And so this was one of the reasons why then I try to see, this younger companies I could work for. And this got me very interested in let's say the younger generation of manufacturing companies, right? The startups. And then, yeah, just how it happened.

[00:04:01] I I finished my masters and ended up at 0.9 capital and early stage venture fund 2.9. They're actually quite industry agnostic. So we invested in everything, B2B, SAS, and marketplaces independent of the industry, but in 2017, and I guess it's also a little bit because I'm native German. I saw a lot of new companies popping up here and there.

[00:04:23] And then I think I just went into the rabbit hole cause I, it's it really, again, it was fascinating to see these companies popping up. I tried to get a bit of picture of it to understand it better. I first created a Google sheet, and just collecting all these names and add a little bit of what they're doing.

[00:04:38] And then it became so much after a few weeks where I was like maybe I should some I'll categorize them. And yeah, I think the result of this was like a landscape. I don't think it's perfect. This awful also like a lot of the names missing, but this landscape from, I think initially like 90 to a hundred startups now grew just organically to, I think, more than 450 companies.

[00:04:59] Trond Arne Undheim, Host: [00:04:59] Wow. I'm interested in that. So these are all Manufacturing startups in your mind in some broad version of Manufacturing. And how did you. How did you start tracking these? W what approach did you did you take, have you been searching the internet for this, or did you go into startup databases?

[00:05:15] How did you define it and how did you find all these? Because there's a staggering number. Yeah. And I think there's no scientific method behind it, but I think I'm very passionate about it. I've talked to loads of people, and then, once I actually were writing about it, people reached out to me, Hey, can I think this is a company, it should be on your map.

[00:05:32] And then, you meet a lot of founders. They refer to other people and so on. I think it just grew organically. And I actually looked into a few databases. But I think the tracking there is really bad. And so probably this is one of the reasons why this whole Mac and the whole tracking idea it's very manually just worked very well because it's somehow overlooked, I think by many of these like tracking sites not only is Manufacturing overlooked, but I'm guessing that they are.

[00:05:56] Ms categorized. Many of these firms actually have Manufacturing clients because a lot of SAS firms also of course have Manufacturing clients, but it's not tracked that way because it's just not viewed like Manufacturing. Tech is not one of those. Sexy tech topics that startups are supposed to care about, but of course that's really largely where a lot of the clients are anyway.

[00:06:19] Robin Dechant: [00:06:19] Exactly. And that's so unfortunate because I think, if you look at their contribution to the GDP, how much has the industry contributes and in Germany in Europe. And I think also similarly in the us so big which sometimes, gets me wondering Hey why are there not more younger comedies actually going after these big companies, because.

[00:06:33] They spend a lot of money on, software services. Of course, some of the categories that you have put these fee of 450 some companies into what are the main types of technology or innovation that you discovered was, is already happening? Yeah, I think a lot of stuff happened in robotics.

[00:06:52]There's also, a number of companies that I had to actually put out of the med over the last four years and I think robotics in general hardware. So it's like super hard. But I think we've seen a rise in like autonomous guided vehicles of robots that also work in the warehouse that they can place items.

[00:07:08] For example, I think there has been like a massive trend. Another one that I would call them Manufacturing as a service are more, like marketplaces platforms. So between the U S which is quite big there are a few in Europe funny enough or interesting enough. Just recently prototypes actually bought 3d apps for, I think like 218 million plus, so quite a big number.

[00:07:30]And so I think there was a lot of, we saw a lot of new companies that tried to, build these platforms like an Amazon style platform, where can just, order a metal sheet. And this is something, another friend we've seen over the last few years. Tell me a little bit more about what companies fall into that category, if you must so Manufacturing as a service that's interesting and it's fit, I guess it fits a little bit what the venture capital community wants to look for.

[00:07:54] Yeah. And I think it's a model that you also probably understand a little bit easier, compared to maybe some very complex software system on the shop floor. W what would you say are some of the exciting startups that you did find during this tracking exercise? If you were to just single out, a few of them, and we can talk about, yeah.

[00:08:10] I think one was plethora in the U S when they basically tried to build a vertically integrated factory. So in the end, the idea was you upload your CAD file, and then they have their own machine running. And it just, Manufacturing part you want to get manufactured and then the ship it to you within a few days.

[00:08:27]So I think what's interesting here is, like the software and the full stack factory approach, if you want. And so basically, they rebuild like a new kind of like factory from the get-go, which I thought was really interesting. I think it's very hard to scale. Because you need to have a lot of customers in order to pay your running costs of the machines and of the staff.

[00:08:45] So you have to keep utilization very high, which I think is a challenge. And then there's other models like symmetry, like laser hub in Germany, like 3d hubs, which just got acquired by protocol labs, where they work with a network of suppliers. So they, they don't manufacture the parts themselves, but they basically work with a network of suppliers that then ship the manufactured parts directly to the customer.

[00:09:07] Got it. All right. So robotics and manufacturing as a service any other kind of new types of things that you were able to coin by looking at all these startups any new and surprising areas or startups in this space? One area that I'm really curious about and really also. Yeah, that I think is really interesting is what I call like Manufacturing app platforms.

[00:09:31]Where I think was like Tulip plays a very significant role and why I like this is because in the end, I think a lot of factories in the next, the case, they have to grow by increasing productivity. And I think if you can get, if people, the tools, people who work on the shop floor, like frontline workers, if we can get into tools to increase that productivity and also, to get rid of maybe very boring and repetitive tasks, I think that's something to make the whole manufacturing industry more and more sexy and the job more appealing.

[00:09:56]And so that's a trend I saw there's a few other companies in the space where I was like this is really interesting. And I think another interesting part, he was like more like the no-code low-code approach, but, I think a lot of like software on a shop floor, it's like very complex.

[00:10:09] Not that many people understand it or can program it, but issue, can do it. I think everybody understands. Excellent. And it's you somehow, can copy that logic to build like small applications within the manufacturing shop floor. That's super exciting. No code is of course known across the rest of the software industry.

[00:10:27] Trond Arne Undheim, Host: [00:10:27] All right. It's is actually, any software is no quote or it has a it's the UI layer of any software in a set in a certain sense. It's because it's why you and I can use, like you said, Excel and how we can use at any program, because there's a user interface that doesn't require coding, but yeah.

[00:10:44]In the manufacturing space, what are some of the players and what exactly, what kinds of functionality have you seen emerge from this no-code slash low-code approach? Can you be specific? And some types of operation that previously just was the domain of this massive software integrations, and that are now splitting up into.

[00:11:05] Really low, lower, no code environments. Is it only on the shop floor or is it also software used in and around the shop floor? And give me a sense,

[00:11:16] Robin Dechant: [00:11:16] yeah, one example I could make here. So we miss the company called the worker base. They're building this. Manufacturing, connected Manufacturing worker platform.

[00:11:24] And they also developed like a smartwatch specifically for Manufacturing workers, which is a bit more robust than I can traditional Apple watch. And what's interesting. So one of the use cases, for example, if a machine does stop for whatever reason, the person who actually has the knowledge to repair the machine, the maintenance worker, it's direct your notification.

[00:11:43] And then it can go to the machine which basically decreases downtime by significant percentage. And so I think, all this collaboration with, for example, a salon worker can talk to each other and can talk to machines is something that I think is really interesting. In general, collaboration, I think so far it happened mostly.

[00:12:01]And that could through pen and paper or just, by talking to each other. If we look into a different segment, I think collaboration within the design space is really interesting. So if you think about, traditional CAD tools and it's so funny because, if we work in tech, everybody collaborates on a Google sheet, like I can share something with you, we can directly comment into it.

[00:12:18] But if I want to design a part, it's usually, I'm stuck in my CAD system and it's really hard to collaborate with engineers. And now, like new players, like shape a 3d which focused on specialty, especially on tablets on the iPad or Onshape. No, it gets them on the cloud. It gets much, much easier to collaborate on specific designs, which I think is another important trend.

[00:12:40] Maybe outside the shop floor. Yeah. That's great. And when, when we think about these new systems that are slightly easier and there are more collaborative, there's still, however, is this up-skilling challenge, right? I guess there's two separate problems I wanted to show to bring out.

[00:12:56] One is we have covered it a little bit, which is young people aren't necessarily super interested in Manufacturing. Yes. And. It's counterintuitive because you and I have been talking about a lot of very exciting technologies that actually just under another name are the top technologies.

[00:13:13] Young people are interested in, and we haven't even really gone into this, but there's obviously AI and machine learning in many, the underlying many of these applications, you can't build advanced CAD software and things like that, unless you take advantage of these contemporary techniques of computation.

[00:13:30] Trond Arne Undheim, Host: [00:13:30] Yes. What kind of prediction would you make? In terms of how young people should approach this sector? And how and how they will approach this secretary. Is, are we going to see students shifting more into this sector because it's going to become apparent to everyone that, and that there are these exciting startups and that the industry itself is transforming, or do you think it's going to take much longer and we're still going to have kind of this slug of yeah.

[00:14:01] This impression that the Manufacturing environment is slower moving.

[00:14:06] Robin Dechant: [00:14:06] I think it has to come also like for Manufacturing companies, right? And especially from leaders, from managing directors, from C level people to basically also foster this culture of innovation and to adapt to that, let's say generation Y generation C stayed off work, which I think, is a big clash compared to let's say the classic Manufacturing work-style.

[00:14:26]And so I think, it's both probably like top-down and bottom-up, I think, as you said younger generations, they're really interested in technologies. And I think if any veteran has one advantage as a lot of data, and so far, I think not many companies or factories making use of that. So I think there's a big opportunity there.

[00:14:42] And I think also a lot of especially smaller manufacturing companies, I had the impression, the last decades, they usually invested in machines, but not necessarily the people. And I think the mindsets have to shift a little bit, that in the next decades, it's going to be so hard to hire people, to retrain them, to develop them or re-skill them or upskill them as you mentioned.

[00:15:03] And so I think the mindset has to shift more from investing. Into machines to investing in humans in the people. And this shift is something that I think will take a while. I think the good thing is we have some of the leaders who, especially in the biggest benefit and companies who already, like really bought into this mindset shift, but until, like the small manufacturing companies also, I think, at that, does, this will probably take awhile.

[00:15:27]Trond Arne Undheim, Host: [00:15:27] As I was reading something last week, that was interesting that I hadn't really studied in detail before, but it turns out, Couple of hundred years ago, the school system changed quite dramatically because of the interest of Manufacturing leadership in training workers.

[00:15:45] Arguably, we are now at a similar juncture, right? So the whole parition style of schooling, the whole German school system, which then, Transformed the world's educational systems to at least in the younger younger age but it also actually transformed into university training.

[00:16:04] What kinds of training and what sort of approach do you think we should take to handle this massive up-skilling channel challenge? Is it still institutional schooling? That is the answer, making people more aware of Manufacturing technologies and and what's happening, on the shop floor earlier on, or is it more on the job training?

[00:16:24]Is it, what is the educational model for this for this day and age?

[00:16:29] Robin Dechant: [00:16:29] I think it's a big and complex problem. And I think the end, you need all the institutions from, I think the government as well. But then also like the traditional education institutions, the companies themselves, I think also more and more people understand that, it's about lifelong learning, and I want do the same job for the next 30 years and that, this might shift.

[00:16:49] And so I think, it is. Or in the end, everybody has to come more together and try to see how we can solve this problem together. Because I think in Germany, as I mentioned I think now if you think about the automotive sector, I just talked to one company and I think it's no surprise, but they don't need, 20, 30,000 people anymore in the next two years to do X mobility.

[00:17:06] So what do you do with them? That's. So I think, it's it's also it, yes, it has to come from the people themselves, but also I think the bigger companies that employ so many people really have to invest a lot into this and to give people, development and career options for the next decades to come.

[00:17:21]Trond Arne Undheim, Host: [00:17:21] Can you enlighten me and the listeners and viewers on how you, yeah. You became somewhat of an expert in this topic. You clearly, you had education in the space, you were interested in passionate and grew more and more passionate about the space, so that much we have covered. And then you dove down into you had this opportunity at an, at a VC firm and you started diving into startups, but.

[00:17:46]More in detail. How is it that you stay up to date on this and what is the approach to learn more and more, and dig deeper into what you call the rabbit hole, which I think is a very interesting rabbit hole, by the way, it's a worthwhile, some rabbit holes. Yeah. It's a very rare rabbit hole.

[00:18:05] Not many have seen this before. I think, honestly it sounds simple, but I just talked to hundreds of people. I just reach out to people cold on LinkedIn, on Twitter, to people who I think write interesting stuff. It's just, I think now reaching out to people and talking to them and you will be surprised how many people actually take 30 minutes, especially now I think at the very start where I know, I didn't know a lot about, I learned a lot from a few like very senior people, but they sound how I enjoyed the conversations they took the time.

[00:18:32] And then, this just grow over time. And to give you one example, I will put nine. We invested also partially in the U S and so I went to San Francisco and to Boston every now and then. And when I went to Boston, I just tried to talk to every robotics company that is in Boston. And luckily a few of them took 30 minutes off their busy day and invited men to their office.

[00:18:52] This was awesome. I didn't I'm super grateful for these people. And I think that's the way how you learn, I think if you have this intrinsic motivation, if you are just curious and ask a lot of questions, then I think you will learn a lot. And no, I wouldn't say just, don't hesitate to reach out to people when you think they could be interesting.

[00:19:07] I think what probably is interesting or what you should do is like not only trying to get knowledge out from them, but also, see how you can be helpful and maybe something, you can share. So I think when I was in Boston, for example, I think many people often ask me about the. No. How has the manufacturing industry in Europe, should we go to your sooner or not?

[00:19:25]How do people think about automation or robotics? And so I think in the end of assault, at least I hope so it like a win-win for both of us. When I talked to people there. This brings me to, to my curiosity the new thing that you pointed out on your LinkedIn account. I'm now really curious about this.

[00:19:41] So what should people know about your future Manufacturing community? What is it, what will it become? What's the response so far? How can you get involved? I think the, what will it become? I think that's the interesting part, because I think this is still wide, wide open. But to go back to this.

[00:20:00] Robin Dechant: [00:20:00] So I started this newsletter. Did I call it the future of Manufacturing three years ago and grew up any good all the time. I had many really cool conversations with people who were reading it and who reached out. And I was always like thinking, Hey, it's a one to one conversation. And it's interesting, but why, cannot, can, can't it be like end to end?

[00:20:19]The people who are reading into reaching out to me, they should talk with each other as well, because they'll learn a lot again. And so I didn't have the time during 0.9 to really, build the community and try to really leverage this. But now since since I left 0.9 in December I just took this as an opportunity.

[00:20:35]And I think, it's B2B, so this will take some time it's, I think a bit different if you have people working in effecting comedies, they're not on Slack all the time, for example, compared to many tech workers. And so I think you have to build the community a little bit different compared to communities I built in the past.

[00:20:48]But it's an interesting learning for me. And I think again, the most interesting part for people here is just, to share their learnings, for example, Hey, that's how we structure a pilot. These are some pitfalls, if you do it, maybe you should watch out for this. And I think actually, if you look at all these startups and all these people who are driving innovation and corporates, they would do so much better if they could work more with each other.

[00:21:09] But I have the feeling often, there's a different language that talking the expectation management is not really well done. And so I know just bringing them all together, something I just feel is part of my mission and of the newsletter. And then, if you think about something more into what the future, I think my kind of like vision is to help manufacturing companies becoming more productive by giving people the necessary tools and the necessary skills and how exactly I'm going to do this.

[00:21:32] It's still, I think it's something I'm trying to figure out at the moment. And I think as we described it's a very complex problem. You can attack it from many different angles. It's a massive market. And so where I'm at the moment, it just needs to zoom into one specific persona to under a specific skill.

[00:21:47] And then, probably go off the different personas.

[00:21:50] Trond Arne Undheim, Host: [00:21:50] So I'm curious about this. Are you specifically focusing on. What we've been talking about, which is, you as a persona is, for me, that's also extremely interesting. So you're a young person interested in Manufacturing that gives you a view into this industry that is unique.

[00:22:07]Are you trying to teach factory leaders about the young people and how to attract talent? Is that would be one obvious thing that you could focus on, right?

[00:22:16] Robin Dechant: [00:22:16] Yes. And that's actually something I would love to do, but I think, it's also not easiest, like a 30 year old person to talk to somebody who is 50.

[00:22:24]Running the factory for 30 years and tell them, Hey, that's how you should do your recruiting in the next a year. That's how you should train your people. I'm not naive. And I think there, there will be also people who probably think, this doesn't work and I think that's totally fine as it is often with innovation and new things.

[00:22:39]But that's one option. I consider one thing that I think is super interesting is something that folks among us doing. They have their own university, if you want. It's called faculty time, zips very German word in most books. And they have a program where they re-skill internal people, especially internal people to become a software developer.

[00:23:01] And this is a win-win for them because in the end, the market for soft developers is empty. And on the other hand there's a lot of people they don't need any more due to electric mobility. And re-skilling them to become a software developer is really interesting. However, I know they only have a hundred spots and, re-skilling, let's say a very old person who is like running a machine for 30 years.

[00:23:21] I think she won't become a software developer the next day, but I think, like more younger people and people who are open to those, actually this could be an interesting way for them.

[00:23:31]Trond Arne Undheim, Host: [00:23:31] That's an interesting point, the. People who are of a more elevated age and have been in the industry for a long time to them.

[00:23:41]I'm guessing. And even for me it's moving really fast. Last April. So fast. You didn't tell me, moving into these technologies that are relevant to the shop floor. Yes, the industry calls it no code or low code, but there's still, there is a learning curve. And even if it's not coding skills, it is interfacing skills.

[00:24:01] It is learning just even just learning five or 10 new software interfaces and they keep evolving a little bit and as easy as they may be, you have to keep these skills up to date. You have to learn the ins and outs of so many different systems. This is not necessarily what our parents' generation, for instance, who may be in the workplace still.

[00:24:26] And at least maybe your parents' generation, what is your advice to them? How should they approach training and how should they deal with this new environment? It would be very easy to say I'm too old for that. I'm not going to. I'm not going to get involved with this. This is a mindset.

[00:24:42] My kids get into this, I'm not going to deal with it. Do people really have that option today in the industry? Is there going to be a generation that doesn't have to deal with these new technologies?

[00:24:51] Robin Dechant: [00:24:51] This is a super interesting question. So my mother is a teacher funny enough, and she's now 60, right?

[00:24:58] And she used to do classes over zoom. And to be very honest, it's not very easy for her. So now it works, but I think, it's in the end, I think it's actually our society. And we as humans who really have to help those people to make the shift to more like digital style of working. I think we, I think if there's one thing we should not do is just let these people go down.

[00:25:19]And let them figure it out themselves. But I think actually it's our responsibility to help them. And I think that's many ways, I don't know. Unfortunately I think if I wouldn't have to solution, I could build a big company right today from today already, but I think what's interesting, it doesn't mean that they basically do coding themselves, just actually explaining them, what they could do.

[00:25:38] And also I think why. It is important. I think the why is probably something that people sometimes neglect, it's Hey, this is something that you should do. But actually I think explaining the why and why this kind of like work environment now will shift is something that we probably need to do more.

[00:25:53] And I have one funny anecdote because you mentioned something around, yeah, it can be also like interfaces and software interfaces. So one company and it's a startup. They work with a bunch of smaller factories, like a hundred to 500 people. And one of the sales guy he's using Slack internally, from a four for that startup that are 50 people.

[00:26:13] And if he's on the go, no, he writes into Slack to keep his workers update. And suddenly when he was visiting these factories, They were like, Hey, what's this app you're using there. You seem to be like communicating all the time with people. Yeah. Yeah. It's just something, it's called Slack.

[00:26:25] We use it internally to communicate, to stay up to date. I tell them what I'm doing. This is cool. We actually have a problem with our communication internally. And a few weeks after they started using Slack and it's, it's really it's a small factory in the middle of nowhere in Germany, no way how I think they would have come across leg, but just because they saw somebody using it and they saw somebody who gets value out of it.

[00:26:46] They got inspired and started using it the next day I think it was, yeah, zoom is contagious, right? Yeah. And I think, sometimes probably it's also the inspiration, just showing people actually what's possible and how easy it is something, taking the complex out of this complex world, make it very easy and explain them why it works.

[00:27:01] And what's the value in it. I think this is something and it's still, I think very high level, but it's something I think where probably this kind of learning needs to go. I'm not going to advise you on your business, but it would seem to me that mentorship from the young initiate or from the initiated to the non initiated would be a very important package here because you can do one too many learning all you want.

[00:27:24]And there's so much available of this one to many approach but like you pointed out. If you're physically there, they have seen it. They see on your productivity, which let's get to productivity. Yes. It's more powerful when it's a one-to-one situation. So that's why I was saying the upskilling challenges is really a challenge because if it had just been to put a few courses online and, educate a billion workers, That would be easy, right.

[00:27:50] Because we could just point to one course and say, that's the course. And then you'd say, okay. Yeah, it's 10 units. It'll take us a few weeks, but that's it. Yeah. And I think you make an interesting point because I think recently I met a few really super strong, really cool like pur people who are like in the, between, I think 25 and 30, and most of them were women.

[00:28:11] No, we're super passionate about Manufacturing who really want to drive this industry forward, but they always felt left a little bit alone in their own company, because I think as we all know I think the ratio of female to male in the industry is unfortunately very bad. And just, already like bringing them together was so valuable because suddenly, they got to know three, four, five more role models who are in a similar situation who are usually in a room full of men, we have to then, talk to them, discuss it and, it's hard, I think.

[00:28:36]And just, seeing other people how they do it and maybe where they struggle and also, sharing very openly actually is something that I think people are really passionate about and learn a lot from. So let's talk about productivity for a bit, you have written about it, and of course it's interesting from a VC context, you're clearly interested in, what are technologies that are making companies more productive, but what have you found in your studies of productivity?

[00:29:03] Both when it comes to the shop floor generally, and also specifically to industrial companies. So one thing I found was it's very hard to measure it. It makes it, I think very challenging to really understand, what's productivity. I think again, one of the problems on the shop floors, you cannot track everything compared to, for example, like if you look at a software tech company, which makes it just hard to measure.

[00:29:29] But I think one finding was definitely that a lot of company, they, they tried to increase productivity over the last few years and also has been successful to do and I think what was interesting that I was also like a BCG study that actually found out that only through like optimizing costs by for example going abroad for Manufacturing right.

[00:29:50] And outsourcing. Is something which will diminish now all the time, because the the cost level in China, for example, is also increasing, which in Dan, is, again, the results that's the only way you can grow is by increasing productivity. And I think that's something wow with okay, this, it makes sense theoretically, just finding a few numbers that point that out and really I think make a cue it's a long-term trend or something that's I found was really interesting.

[00:30:16]Trond Arne Undheim, Host: [00:30:16] So my last question is a little unfair because I'm a futurist and as a futurist, you're supposed to know things about the future, which of course no one does. So it's a tricky job, but there's a lot of cheating going on then futurist industry, one of them is to ask other people. So here's my question for you.

[00:30:33] When you are nearing your retirement, which will be some years from now. Quite a few years from now maybe 40, maybe 50, who knows, but let's call it 50 years from now. Let's just be gentle. What kinds of things will happen? It happened in this industry and what will be your worries in terms of staying up to date and how are you going to, what's your strategy now for not becoming obsolete 50 years from now?

[00:31:03] Robin Dechant: [00:31:03] I think in 50 years, we'll have managers to empower more people in the manufacturing industry who have more of a say of how their work routine looks like, what kind of tasks they want to do, and to also give them, I think, a longer career option. I think that's something I'm really positive about.

[00:31:20] I think it's something that it's hard to bring into these industries, but we have seen in other industries can be successful. There are some examples already today. Whereas some manufacturing companies try to operate on an empowerment model. And so I'm very hopeful. I think in general I am a positive person that I think this will be something we will manage to do.

[00:31:39] But you're making a good point with, staying up to date, even for me, to be honest. I think if you think about like social media, it's so hard how fast it is evolving. Like what with  Facebook, Instagram, but now TikTok. And I think there's so many new social apps out there now with Clubhouse and so on in the last like few months already that it's super hard to stay up to date.

[00:31:57] And I think bridging these two worlds, people now who just grew up digitally. And then people like me who maybe grew up half digitally. I think there will be still like a big clash. Maybe not as dramatic as it seems to be today, but still I think given if it's like this like it does so far in the last years, then I think it will be so hard because all the cycles will just move faster.

[00:32:22]Everything will move faster production, like new customers, distribution and so on. Like Manufacturing companies. They've done marketing and sales pretty similar in the last years. But now think about the next 10 to 20 years. I don't know if they will be like a real conference anymore.

[00:32:37]Maybe you will use VR headsets to showcase your tools. And the buyer will be like a 30 year old who grew up digitally and she won't go to a physical conference anymore and travel. And so how can you sell to this person? This is super difficult, I think. And then that's why I think, having creativity, taking time, To learn something that we really need to focus on.

[00:32:57] And I think you can only learn if you try things out, if take your time and if you invest in people it's fascinating to discuss these things. And it's one of those topics where there's always a lot more to discuss and I think. Whether we are close to understanding the next 50 years or not, the next few years only will also bring drastic change.

[00:33:20]The thinking in the 50 years is I guess, just more of a way to prepare us for the next few years. That's how I see it. And thank you so much for starting that process. And it would seem to me super interesting too, to see how you are future Manufacturing. Community evolves. So let's let's stay in touch and see if we can collaborate on that.

[00:33:39] Yes, that will be awesome. Thank you very much. This was really cool.

[00:33:42]Trond Arne Undheim, Host: [00:33:42] You have just listened to episode 11 of the Augmented podcast with hosts thrown on a Undheim. The topic was empowering workers to innovate. Our guest was Robin DeShaw founder of the future of Manufacturing community. In this conversation, we talk about why Robin is so deeply interested in Manufacturing innovation at such a young age.

[00:34:05] Also, how do you define Manufacturing innovation? Why is it relevant now? Why should young people be excited? About Manufacturing why's up-skilling so fundamental. What should people know about his new future of Manufacturing community, how to scale upskilling and what's next? The digital factory in the next 20 years?

[00:34:27] My takeaway is that Robin Deschant represents the future of the Manufacturing. He is young. He is deeply engaged in innovation and he tracks startups, talks to the whole community and wants to improve the ecosystem and is passionate about it. Upskilling Robin is an I 4.0 native. One of the many we will follow on this podcast.

[00:34:49] Thanks for listening. If you'd like to show, subscribe, Augmented or in your preferred podcast player and rate us with five stars. If you liked this episode, you might also like episode two, how to train Augmented workers or episode three reimagine training, Augmented the industry 4.0 podcast.


Robin Dechant

Founder, Future of Manufacturing Community

Robin is a young innovator with a popular newsletter and who is building the The Future of Manufacturing community, designed for people who want to shape the future of the manufacturing industry together. Focused on innovation managers and digital transformation experts who turn theory into action.

Previously, Robin worked at Point Nine Capital, an early-stage venture capital firm primarily focused on SaaS and online marketplaces. With Point Nine, he invested and worked with the following companies: Loom (US), Laserhub (DE), Metalshub (DE), Mavenoid (SWE), Container xChange (DE), Tradelink (DE), and Workerbase (DE).

Robin is particularly interested in companies in the area of B2B Software and Marketplaces that want to shape the future of traditional industries and in the Future of Work. I’m passionate about building communities and everything around productivity tools.

He holds an M.Sc. in Industrial Engineering and Management from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT).