Finding enough time to complete training alongside normal role responsibilities is one of the biggest limiting factors for the workforce. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, new ways of working and changing technologies were disrupting traditional roles and the skills engineers need to do them. The current lockdown conditions mean that workers can use e-learning to develop key skills and knowledge to ensure success in the new operations in a post-pandemic era, says George Walker, managing director of industrial automation expert Novotek UK and Ireland.
According to a blog written by VXchange, over 80 per cent of industrial manufacturing companies are using, or planning to use, smart devices in their operations. These new technologies bring with them the need for new skills and approaches to operations and data, which industrial businesses are required to adapt to in the ever-expanding landscape of digitalisation and Industry 4.0.
However, the challenge for many industrial businesses so far has been in effectively upskilling the workforce to meet the changing requirements of industrial technology. In the McKinsey Global Survey, 87 percent of executives said they were experiencing skill gaps in the workforce or expected them within the next few years.
In this sense, the current lockdown presents an opportunity for manufacturers, employees and furloughed workers to develop new skills, particularly around the management of industrial data.
The flow of production, and the data that is attached to it, is key to understand how to optimise and improve operations. The sheer abundance of information at our fingertips thanks to Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) devices and rapid digitalisation is the key to unlocking maximum productivity in manufacturing operations. Although having the right system in place to manage this data is important, nothing is more valuable than knowing how to interpret and implement insights from this data into your operations.
A running plant with several machines running simultaneously creates an incredible amount of data from processes and operations, all of which can be collected and stored by an effective historian system. That data is most useful if someone can interpret it and drive key decisions and actions. A maintenance engineer, for example, could use the data pulled by a historian system to gain insight into how equipment is operating and perform preventive maintenance throughout the plant, keeping downtime to a minimum.
At Novotek, we believe that knowledge is key. What’s the point in having all that data if you don’t know how to use it? During the ongoing COVID-19 situation, we’ve been running webinars outlining some of the key skills that engineers, industrial managers and field service technicians need to make the most of their data.
Our free webinars span all areas of data collection, visualisation and operations to help you get the most out of your operations, and the most out of your investment into industrial devices. The webinars allow all stakeholders to benefit from not only knowing what to do as a consequence of the data that their plant is creating, but how it strategically effects the company long term. especially when the new world starts again after COVID-19.
Even though we are in unprecedented times, there is great opportunity for engineers to learn skills that will benefit them in their day-to-day roles. After all, technology and innovation never stand still, even in a pandemic.