Impact of learning for businesses today

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Industry 4.0 technologies are set to revolutionize manufacturing through widespread connectivity and smart data systems. For companies on the leading edge looking to implement newer technologies, adoption will require a transformation in the skills needed in their workforces. This blog post highlights some aspects of training and learning that should be considered when looking into an Industry 4.0 future.

Planning is essential to prepare for impending disruptive change in workforces and the way we run our manufacturing businesses. With the widespread implementation of sensor embedded and smart systems, resources will need to be structured differently, including the way skills sets are distributed among staff. Widespread implementation of automation is expected to almost completely illuminate the most predictable human-based labour tasks in manufacturing. This compounded with global labour shortages are expected to reshape the way that we operate.

Teams with highly proficient technical skills will be an essential make-up of the modern workforce. Training programs should be designed to be scalable, as more staff are involved and have a need to interact with the ever-increasing technical aspects of the business. Simply relying on small functionally isolated core groups of technical expertise for design and service of operations will not be enough to remain relevant and competitive. Advanced technical skills have become an essential requirement at the operational level. On top of this, the skills training provided will have very short life cycles with the increasingly rapid pace of change in technology. Being agile and able to plan for these potentially disruptive changes from a staff training perspective will be essential.

While onboarding can be a solution to filling skill gaps in staff teams, there is also great value in formulating training programs that can upskill a firm existing knowledge-rich manufacturing team. Today many manufactures operate with staff undertaking a very rigid and defined set of instructional tasks on a repetitive basis.

With smarter digital systems driving process efficiencies through feeding live operational data directly to operators, the modern manufacturing environment will be very fluid and constantly micro-adjusting to match changing inputs. Here is one of the key areas that will require a shift in how staff are trained and required to function. Flexibility to change in operations and a heightened understanding of digital interfaces in day-to-day activities will be some of the key requirements for staff that transition with a company to an industry 4.0 future.

When looking at the next upcoming generation of the modern workforce, there are several core competencies that will be in very high demand and perhaps even essential. Digital literacy and fluency will be an essential part of being a modern productive staff member. Thankfully most of today’s youth have this well under control with interconnected devices and systems experience almost from birth. Analysis of data in various forms will be essential at all operational levels of future business. From operators, right through to senior managers. Automation interaction and management as well as the human to machine interfacing and collaboration will also be areas of core focus for those training to enter the exciting world of Industry 4.0 enabled manufacturing. We can expect machine interaction,

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Maurice Herben


Maurice Herben studied Mechanical Engineering at RWTH Aachen University. From 2006, he has worked as researcher and group manager at the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology in Aachen. In 2016, he helped bring Fraunhofer to Netherlands by setting up the FPC@UT together with Prof. Fred van Houten. Maurice has been a member of the management team since the official start of FPC in January, 2017. FPC is now known as the Fraunhofer Innovation Platform for Advanced Manufacturing at the University of Twente.