Even if you don’t work in the HR world, you’ve probably heard of cross training employees. This method of teaching workers to do more than one job equips them with multiple skill sets and increases their value to their team, allowing them to fill in or provide reinforcement on an as-needed basis. It’s seen in settings as diverse as the corner coffee shop or a municipal public safety department. When employees can perform their own job as well as the key skills for other positions, it adds a level of flexibility that improves response time and productivity. What you might not know is there are similar benefits in applying this approach to automation equipment in manufacturing.
Cyber attacks that make the evening news usually feature large organizations and often announce the theft of personal information. While they rarely make headlines, these kinds of attacks can, and do, happen to smaller businesses too. In these cases, not only are your employees’ personal data at risk, but so are “smart” machines and equipment in the Industrial Internet of Things. The key to understanding cybersecurity in a manufacturing setting is being aware that once a device is connected to the internet (even indirectly through a company network) it becomes vulnerable to attack.
Increasingly, large and small factories are incorporating “smart” sensors, drives, and other monitoring components into their equipment. These connected devices can transmit production and operation data to a control room computer for real-time monitoring.
You probably know that automating some or all of your manufacturing processes can increase production, reduce waste, modernize your facility, and even boost revenue. But did you know it can help you expand your pool of potential employees and retain your current ones for longer? Let’s examine how automation can enable aging workers and persons with disabilities to carry out industrial and manufacturing work.
According to a 2016 survey by the MAPI Foundation and Rockwell Automation, the top reason companies said they chose not to automate is that perceived return on investment (ROI) did not justify the initial cost of purchase and implementation (47 percent). If this reasoning resonates with you, ask yourself if you’re looking at ROI comprehensively when considering automation.
When a system, process, or institution experiences change so profound that it completely alters how it operates and how people think about it, we call it a revolution. Since the mid-1700’s, technological revolutions have changed industry, manufacturing, and the nature of work significantly three times:
Engineers have technical knowledge and an eye for detail, especially when it comes to improving a system or process. If you’ve determined that automation equipment can benefit your facility, it’s probably very clear to you how and why it’s a worthwhile investment. But the benefits and outcomes may not be as obvious to decision makers and management – the very people who approve the purchase. Because you’re the one who sees the full picture of what an automation project can accomplish, your task is much like making a sales pitch, convincing management to buy in to your solution.
The skills gap is a hot topic in many industries, especially manufacturing. It’s created when the number of open jobs grows but there aren’t enough job seekers with the right skills to fill them. Research by Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute says “the number of new jobs in manufacturing [will]
For small to medium manufacturers seeking to boost production, create lean facilities, and stay competitive in their markets, automation is an increasingly viable option. Falling equipment prices, small and flexible cobots, and advancing technology are bringing automated manufacturing equipment into smaller facilities. What’s more, “factories that automate boring, low-paying jobs with high turnover not only stay competitive but can elevate workers to more interesting, better-paying jobs,” according to Cutting Tool Engineering.
“Even though manufacturing is one of the most highly automated industries globally, there is still significant automation potential within the four walls of manufacturing sites, as well as in related functional areas such as supply chain and procurement,” according to research by McKinsey. In fact, their research found that, globally, 64 percent of working hours spent on manufacturing-related activities are automatable.