Skip to content

Skills gap solutions, straight from those on the front lines

Brett Brune
By Brett Brune Editor in Chief, Smart Manufacturing

With the September issue, Smart Manufacturing introduces Collective Intelligence, a new initiative under which we gather experts in one room to go deep on one important topic. We focused this first roundtable on the intractable problem of the workforce skills gap.

The five experts we gathered at the Smart Manufacturing Experience in Boston all lead companies, putting them on the front lines.

IMMY CEO Doug Magyari pointed out that augmented reality and virtual reality have given birth to the “remote expert”—an experienced hand, perhaps a retired employee, who from across the country or the globe can in real time troubleshoot a down machine “like he’s right in the shop.” “This remote expert can do real-time annotation. He can draw over that guy’s line of sight and say, ‘Do you see this?’ ‘Make this adjustment’ or ‘swap that out’.”

The remote expert will be “a really big leveraging tool,” he said.

It is also time to “sensor up” and follow the example GE, FANUC and PTC have set by embracing the Industrial Internet of Things, Magyari said. (This comment echoed our March special report on sensors.)

To address the growing compliation of continuous training for existing employees, Elisha Tropper, CEO of Cambridge Security Seals, suggested discovering new technologies, such as automation and robotics, “that can replace the skills workers lack.”

“Every time you switch a technology, or even switch a vendor within a technology, it requires additional training or new training,” he said. “The instant obsolescence of a process people have been following for a while kicks in. Then you have to lean heavily on the vendors to train your existing employees. Some vendors are great at it, but some vendors don’t know the first thing about how to do it.”

Tropper acknowledged that apprenticeship programs can help with the brain drain around craft-like areas, such as toolmaking and machine maintenance. But, he added, apprenticeship programs are “very time consuming and success isn’t guaranteed.”

He and others at the roundtable emphasized the importance of keeping ties with productive employees after they leave your employment.

When people do retire, Tropper said, “you have to try and maintain the relationships” so that you can call them when you have a problem.

Related Articles

  • Siemens adds Modern Cloud PLM to Xcelerator Portfolio with New SaaS Offering.
    Software

    Digital Transformation Picks up Speed

    July 1, 2020
    Fostering human-centered innovation by developing powerful, easy-to-use tools is at the heart of the new products, enhancements and services showcased during the Siemens Digital Industries Software 2020 Media & Analyst Conference, a two-day virtual event hosted by the Plano, Texas-based company on June 16 and 17.
    By Larry Adams - Contributing Writer, SME Media
  • Microsoft Exec On Ways To Do Well Despite COVID-19 Crisis

    June 29, 2020
    Diego Tamburini, principal industry lead for manufacturing in the cloud + AI division of Microsoft, reviews the impact of the COVID-19 crisis in manufacturing. He shares his thoughts about how the industry should respond—and lists the attributes of manufacturers best positioned to survive the crisis. Finally, he outlines new opportunities for developers of smart manufacturing software solutions under the “new normal.”
    By Brett Brune - Editor in Chief, Smart Manufacturing magazine
  • The advent of MTConnect and networked machine tools—together with advanced analytics and remote monitoring platforms—has eliminated the drudgery of data input.
    Smart Manufacturing

    The Connected Machine Shop

    June 22, 2020
    Change is hard. Whether it’s learning a new software package or setting up a new model of machine tool, many of us wonder at some point, “Is all this hassle worthwhile?” Change can also be risky, raising the specter of lost time, revenue, and reputation.
    By Richard Boyle - Manager of Mebane Production Unit, Sandvik Coromant
  • VIEW ALL ARTICLES
  • Connect With Us
    TwitterFacebookLinkedInYouTube

Always Stay Informed

Receive the latest manufacturing news and technical information by subscribing to our monthly and quarterly magazines, weekly and monthly eNewsletters, and podcast channel.