Building a “Smart” Workforce

Posted By: Jeannine Kunz, Vice President, Tooling U-SME on May 15, 2018

While still early stage, manufacturers are seeing the necessity of implementing a Smart Manufacturing strategy for benefits including increased efficiency, improved quality, shorter cycle times, increased innovation, and cost reduction.

As explained in SME’s first of three Smart Manufacturing Reports, Smart Manufacturing: A Competitive Necessity, the same technical revolution underway at home—with smart devices like Amazon’s intelligent personal assistant Alexa to play a favorite song or change the temperature—is taking place in the manufacturing facility.

Sensors, enabled by the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), collect information, and cloud-hosted software analyzes it, providing operations managers with intelligence to better manage processes and grow margins. The industry is moving from data collection to Smart Manufacturing.

“This new area revolutionizes manufacturing operations from the production floor to the global supply chain, and there is no end in sight in terms of the opportunities and benefits,” said Thomas R. Kurfess, Ph.D., P.E., Professor and HUSCO/Ramirez Distinguished Chair In Fluid Power and Motion Control, George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology and 2018 SME President.

Moving to Smart Manufacturing is the only option for manufacturers intent on future growth and innovation.

What’s a critical component for success? Developing a “smart” workforce to implement transformative technologies such as additive manufacturing/3D printing, automation, advanced materials, precision machining, precision measurement/3D scanning, IIoT, and digital manufacturing.

In this data-driven environment, workers must be skilled in everything from critical thinking to programming. Analytics and data management are skills at the top of the help wanted list. Today, manufacturers are looking for teams that can apply the new technology to improve performance and profitability.

This doesn’t necessarily mean hiring additional team members. Training incumbent workers to cover these “new” roles provides employees with exciting career growth opportunities and fresh challenges. (This fits right in with Millennials’ desire for new experiences!)

With the growth of Smart Manufacturing, companies are investing in technology and equipment. To set up their companies for long-term success, employers also need to invest in their people to ensure they know how to meet the new market demands.

Advanced technologies are launching the next Industrial Revolution. Make sure you — and your teams — aren’t left behind.

To see whether your organization is equipped with the right skills to meet the demands of today’s and tomorrow’s advanced manufacturing technology, take Tooling U-SME’s Workforce 2021 Assessment.

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