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Industry 4.0 Presents Training Challenges

Bill Koenig
By Bill Koenig Senior Editor, SME Media

Worker training will be key to implementing Industry 4.0 in manufacturing, speakers at a presentation said today.

“It’s incredibly important to keep workers motivated,” said Mary Beth Hudson, executive director of the Smart Manufacturing Institute in Chattanooga, Tenn. “Training will be continuous for the workers.”

Industry 4.0 comprises technology where machines communicate with each other, with workers monitoring them via smartphones and tablet computers. Preventative maintenance can be anticipated and performed.

Hudson’s group conducted a webinar from a Nissan Motor Co. facility in Smyrna, Tenn. The presentation concerned management challenges in implementing Industry 4.0 tech.

Speakers on the webinar stressed how training is necessary to get the most out of the technology involved.

“There’s a tendency to get wrapped up in the technology,” said Chris Cunningham, UC Foundation professor of psychology at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Without proper training, he said, “the return on investment won’t be as high as it should be.”

As part of training, Cunningham added, manufacturers need to show employees “it is possible to gain new skills.” A message to workers, he said, is “we’re investing in you.”

Another theme of the webinar is even small- to medium-sized manufacturers need to adopt Industry 4.0.

“There is a negative cost in doing nothing,” Hudson said. “It is very damaging if Industry 4.0 is not implemented.”

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