Got Skills? Get Ready to Adopt Industry 4.0 Technology

Prior to my role as Application Engineer at the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (The Center), I was a controls automation engineer for 10 years. The skills I needed for that job were self-taught or learned in the field from a colleague. Unfortunately, my engineering school did not properly prepare me for a career in automation and robotics, likely due to it being a new area in the industry.
Likewise, effective programs to train people in the skill sets needed to successfully adopt and maintain Industry 4.0 technologies are few and far between. We are currently experiencing a huge labor shortage and skills gap across several industries, including manufacturing. Automation is a great solution that can help bridge that gap and can also create new positions to maintain the equipment.
As the Fourth Industrial Revolution evolves, all manufacturers will need to become technology companies to some degree. The skills needed for technology can vary depending on the equipment, but some general competencies include:
  • Computer Programing
  • Robot Path Teaching
  • PLC Programming
  • Networking
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
Rather than having an expert in one of these areas, a general understanding of all the bulleted disciplines above is necessary. For instance, installing a robot to load parts in and out of a CNC machine requires some training. The team will need to program the robot, set up electrical signals between the machine and the robot, and connect the equipment to the plant network for data collection and reporting. The robot also will need custom fixtures and fingers for handling the specific parts.
Having technical skill abilities in-house is essential for small and medium-sized manufacturers in a low-volume, high-mix environment. The team will need to stay agile and adapt automation for any variety of parts orders. Training your team with the skills needed to utilize this new technology will help ensure success and help your business reach new goals.
Each year, technology becomes more inexpensive and easier to use as advancements are made. It is no longer just for high-volume auto plants. Having team members with skillsets that include technology will help smaller companies adopt Industry 4.0. This will keep them competitive by increasing production and bridging the talent gap that the labor shortage has created.
When looking to implement the technologies, upskilling your current workforce is a great way to get ready. It will give your team ownership of the new project and enable them to expand their current skillset by learning something new. This also can reinvigorate their excitement for work and help with retention by giving them new experiences.
By showing them how technology can make their job easier and more efficient, it will help them accept the new equipment and want to ensure a successful implementation.
The Center is here to help you along the entire technology adoption process. From training team members, assessing your facility, identifying the right technology, and guiding you along the implementation process. Start today by registering your team for our Industry 4.0 classes here.
See where technology can fit into your company with a free Technology Opportunity Assessment. In two hours with 40 questions, our experts will come to you and identify the right equipment that will help you meet your business goals. Schedule your assessment here.
MEET OUR EXPERT: Robert Scipione, Applications Engineer
Scipione_R-web.jpgBob Scipione is an Applications Engineer at The Center. In his role, Bob facilitates the transfer of knowledge in Smart Manufacturing Technologies to small and mid-sized manufacturers and assists with their Industry 4.0 implementations and strategies. He brings nine years of experience in manufacturing control system design and software development. Bob has worked as both Installation Engineer and Senior Controls Engineer where he gained experience in robotic systems testing and installation, software engineering and integrating new hardware components to existing software.
Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at

Categories: Advanced Manufacturing, Industry 4.0, Innovation, Manufacturing, Smart Manufacturing, Smart Technology, Technology