Manufacturing automation and technology has not only boosted the quality and quantity of produced goods but also significantly reduced the time and manpower required to accomplish production targets. Today U.S. factories manufacture twice as many products as they did in early 80's but with one third fewer workers.
In the sixties, 24% of the U.S. labor force was involved in manufacturing, while today, that number is 8% (yes, 5 million jobs have vanished). And many more jobs are on the line.
Shortage of Skills Crisis
In the last two decades, since several jobs have been automated, the demand for skilled workers to operate, repair and handle this new technology has increased tremendously. Companies are experiencing a shortage of skilled workers such as Robot Technicians, PLC Programmers, Electromechanical Technicians, etc. Since comprehensive training on the job has received a setback due to reluctance of companies to invest in in-depth training and development programs, a number of technical and vocational colleges and institutes are providing intensive courses to prepare next generation of skilled workers in manufacturing.
Cementing the Gaps
Technical institutes are equipping the students with skills and know-how to build a successful career in manufacturing in a knowledge-based economy. They incorporate the emerging trends responsible for the reinvention of manufacturing sector as a part of coursework itself so students are job-ready upon completion of the course. Let's explore some of these trends in further detail.
- Role of Automation
Since the last decade, Internet of things has been increasing automation making condition-based maintenance more important. This is driving up labor efficiencies allowing more time and investment in research and development efforts which is in turn redefining what one exactly means when they say 'pursuing a career in manufacturing.'
Automation technician programs in colleges introduce candidates to application of automated manufacturing systems in theory and practice and emphasize on robotic systems, pneumatics, digital programming languages, etc.
- SMAC Stack
Manufacturing companies are increasingly adding social, mobile, analytics and cloud to their core toolkit. Innovation has taken precedence over traditional conservative methods. SMAC has been successfully enabling early adopters to drive customer engagement, boost efficiencies, adapt to change and grow.
- Role of Social Media
Social media is hugely responsible for business model innovation. Just like the service industry, manufacturing is also becoming more consumer-centric. The consumers of today are more knowledgeable and informed than before and expect products on-demand. They rely heavily on online reviews and social media communication to learn about products, compare and purchase them. This change in consumer decision-making and purchase behavior has rendered traditional B2B and B2C models obsolete. Today, manufacturers are expected to have a thorough understanding of their target audience – wants, needs, interests, attitudes, etc. – to build products that resonate with their audience or to risk losing them to the competition.
- Capital Investment
Armed with the spirit of innovation to generate more 'value' and backed by technological automation know-how, manufacturers are increasingly focusing on redesigning plant technologies, upgrading equipment and rethinking the process of manufacturing operations.
Today’s industrial environment includes programmable logic control systems that require the expertise of PLC Programmers. Technical courses specializing in PLC Programming cover functions and operations of various these control systems on analog as well as discrete devices. They also emphasize on practical application of PLCs in manufacturing systems.
- Rise of Next-Shoring
Manufacturing strategies are being modified to produce products closer to home as it saves considerable amount of time and shipping costs when compared to offshoring production. Next-shoring makes it possible to make products available in the market in a shorter span, which in turn, helps in faster recovery of production costs.
- Intelligent Technological Facilities
Robotics and intelligent manufacturing technology has replaced far more U.S. workers than have Mexican or Chinese facilities. Much of U.S. manufacturing has shifted to Southern states and are now burgeoning with new intelligent facilities.
The demand for skilled talent to handle robot technology has become more important than ever before. George Brown College offers specialized programs on Robotics and Automation training aimed at building the foundation on industrial robotics. The programs also enables industrial robot simulation so that students are able to work in any kind of manufacturing plant with robotic technology.
In the wake of knowledge-based economy, the manufacturing sector is reinventing itself at an accelerated pace. Anyone aspiring to achieve success in this field must gain the requisite skills and competencies made available by specialized training.