Industry 4.0 Training Crisis?

A new Rexroth survey concludes that training budgets are the big delaying factor for Industry 4.0.

Industry 4.0, the breakthrough approach to manufacturing that combines the Industrial Internet of Things, smart machinery, machine learning, Big Data, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and other cutting edge technology to create more efficient and customizable manufacturing processes, has been part of Rexroth’s reality for years.

But these new processes are not being seen on factory floors as much as we’d expect.

The survey was conducted in the UK, where manufacturers are seeing their productivity shrink compared with productivity levels in the U.S. and in continental Europe. Rexroth is ready to blame it on the Skills Gap.

While 98% of companies surveyed said that they provide some training for their workforce, the average worker receives just 10 hours of training. Training is generally fitted in around daily work requirements — “piecemeal” is the term the report uses to describe the typical approach. And roughly 2/3 of companies surveyed are not training workers in the latest automation techniques.

More than half of respondents said they had trouble finding appropriate training materials, and large numbers of respondents reported that they felt they were inadequately prepared for training in automation in general (40%) or for modern automation processes (34%).

The top reasons identified for the lack of preparation? Budget and concerns about lost man-hours, which may also be a budgetary concern.

Rexroth sees this as short-sighted. “There is little doubt that for UK manufacturing and engineering companies to remain competitive, every opportunity must be seized to optimise the performance of people and operations,” the authors say, describing the poor quality of training as “a major barrier to competitiveness and profitability.”
Are we better off in the U.S.? The Boston Consulting Group doesn’t think so. “Little of the current US manufacturing workforce or the pipeline of future workers is equipped to compete in the world of Industry 4.0. ,” they wrote in a recent white paper. “To successfully compete against manufacturers in China, Germany, South Korea, Japan, and other countries that are making success in Industry 4.0 a national priority, the US will have to dramatically ramp up programs that teach adaptive skills.”

BCG determined that the current workforce in U.S. manufacturing is simply unprepared for Industry 4.0. While they want to see further training in appropriate skills in colleges, they also say that ongoing training in the workplace is an essential — and is not being done. U.S. companies, they claim, are not going beyond technical training.

Rexroth’s commitment to manufacturing goes beyond just producing exceptional motion control systems. As leaders in Industry 4.0 and modern automation, Rexroth supports the entire manufacturing ecosystem.

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