Like most of you, we have embraced the U.S. manufacturing renaissance referred to as industry 4.0.

Yet, while manufacturing technology accelerates, we see some manufacturing 4.0 cracks forming. One obvious challenge many of us already face is the shortage of skilled workers.

According to Craig Griffi, Vice Chairman of Deloitte 84% of manufacturing executives surveyed agree that there is a talent shortage. 82% of executives feel that workforce and skill shortages have a significant impact on their ability to meet customer demand. 78% indicate that it impacts their ability to implement new technologies and increase quality and productivity. Manufacturers also face risks in the coming years from retirements and millennial job skipping.

  • When skilled workers leave, whatever the reason, they will be harder to replace, and high quality production can suffer.
  • Siloes of knowledge and experience are a threat to manufacturers; worker shortages only increase the risk.

“The definition of genius is taking the complex and making it simple.”
- Albert Einstein 

Managing Risk - Managing Risk - EasyEasy 

We find that Quality Control and Inspection are areas where siloes of experience can be highly concentrated.

Quality Control and Inspection are areas where siloes of experience can be highly concentrated. Years of experience can live only in employee’s memories and through hard won experience using trial and error. This knowledge is unlikely to be transferred to future QC and inspectors.

There are three easy steps that make measurement easy:

  • User-friendly and intuitive equipment
  • First, consider quality control and inspection equipment that is user friendly and intuitive, as well as accurate and repeatable When you think about making measurement easy, examine functionality that improves ergonomics, smooth data collection, functionality and operator usability. When inspection equipment is easy to use it becomes inherently more accurate and repeatable across all operators. Thoughtful implementation of easy to use inspection equipment by itself will reduce skill siloes and learning bottlenecks.

  • Simple processes and procedures
  • Next, simple processes and procedures are key to making measurement easy. Much of the inspection process requires easy data collection. Make accurate, repeatable and secure data collection part of your intellectual property by routinizing it and putting it into production workflows. This requires inspection equipment that can easily capture, share and analyze data and provide real time feedback. Easy processes are more effective, more efficient, and more comfortable. Easy allows operators to achieve inspection tasks faster, with a higher success rate and with a higher degree of satisfaction. Easy also means that processes and procedures are not overly complicated which eliminates specific knowledge, touch and feel, trial and error expertise, or concentrated mission critical risk.

    Often, easy processes allow manufacturers to accomplish more, in less time with fewer people.

  • Training to close the skills gap
  • Finally, make training part of your company’s overall upskilling program. Partnering with a solutions provider that offers fast, effective, virtual and local training will dramatically close the skills gap.

    The skills gap has been the No. 1 challenge for manufacturers for the past nine quarters, according to the National Association of Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey.

    According to research by Accenture November, 2020, “at the organizational level, companies who have workforces with strong digital skills are over five times more likely than peers to project high revenue growth for the upcoming three years.

    And at the individual level, the research report found that technical skills are the currency for individual future opportunity and are needed to make significant jumps in economic mobility.

    For the manufacturer, upskilling should be a key component of attracting and retaining skilled workers and operating with greater efficiency. For the employees upskilling is the obvious path for career development.

Operate with Fewer People

The impact of COVID19 has accelerated the need to operate with fewer people on the floor and highlighted the critical importance of digital solutions, including remote monitoring, and applied analytics. Operating your factory with a pared down workforce must be part of your long term plans. Now is the time to ensure that employees are upskilling their knowledge to enable more efficient and streamlined operations. The distances between the production floor and quality control have been closing for years. The benefits of quality control in manufacturing are obvious. Thinking about working with fewer skilled workers has become increasingly urgent, yet it can also be an opportunity to drive new levels of innovation, differentiation, and profitability.

Looking ahead, we see companies making great strides bridging the labor and skills gaps.

As a consequence of post pandemic demand, U.S. manufacturing is roaring back. At the shop floor level, we see manufacturers embracing labor and skills challenges and winning.

At Fowler, our objective is to provide inspection equipment and quality control solutions that make it easy for our customers to upskill workers for a “win win win” result. The goal is always to consistently produce great parts, eliminate scrap, improve efficiency and always keep bad parts from reaching a customer.

We believe that new equipment and new technology is only a benefit when it improves quality, accuracy, repeatability, and profitability and to be widely adopted, it should also be easy.