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Education - The Key to Industry 4.0

With a “lack of technology know-how” holding back almost a third of manufacturers, EMS CEO Keith Austin explores how innovators can ensure no one gets left behind.

Industry 4.0 has swept across the manufacturing sector at some pace. According to a recent Deloitte report, 74 per cent of scaling manufacturing businesses are looking to invest in new physical equipment and machinery – demonstrating the desire to up their game. Yet, worryingly, almost a third of manufacturing businesses cite ‘lack of technology know-how’ as one of the biggest challenges they face when seeking to adopt new technologies.

These are businesses seriously at risk of being left behind. Not only affecting their efficiency and production levels, but impacting on their ability to attract talent too.  This extends to internal communications as well, as employees need to feel inspired to embrace new methods.

Bridging the knowledge gap

So, what can innovators in the sector do to change this? In short, they must do more to reduce the knowledge gap. It is the people and businesses at the forefront of these advancements that have the ability to ensure progress across the sector.

Proven time and time again, the best method of bridging a knowledge gap is through face-to-face educational experiences. Through live demonstrations and getting new innovations in the hands of those nervous to embrace change, progress can quickly become far less daunting. Traditionally, we might have seen this done through the trade show format, but with key decision makers more time-starved than ever, it requires a more innovative approach.

There is a real opportunity for leading innovators to bring knowledge and understanding direct to the doorsteps of businesses. Global provider of industrial and electronic products, RS Components, has done just that with the creation of an immersive mobile showroom tour. What really sets this campaign apart is the format. It brings major brands such as 3M, Siemens and Design Spark together under one roof – showcasing world leading innovations and giving visitors the chance to actually get hands-on with the products. The roadshow is currently travelling across Germany, providing easily accessible, face-to-face engagement with new innovations.

RS Components Roadshow Tour

From ‘knowledge bars’ that offer visitors the chance to get the answers from the experts themselves, to recreating a live real production environment so that visitors can see the impact of the technologies for themselves, there are a whole host of ways to bring the Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) to life for those that are new to it. It’s about presenting new technologies in such a way that people feel confident to implement change themselves.

Hands-on the future

Of course, Industry 4.0 will have its biggest impact on the next generation, and there is some important work to be done to educate the engineers of the future. A skills gap study undertaken by Deloitte showed that nearly 4.6 million manufacturing jobs will become available over the next decade, however, nearly 2.4 million of these are expected to go unfilled. Realising the enormity of this problem, some manufacturers are engaging with schools and universities to deliver educational sessions that demonstrate the potential offered by a career in the field.

However, to really stand out and take things one step further, manufacturers need to get creative in their efforts to inspire the next generation. After all, how can we expect young people to get excited about AI, IoT and robotics, if we don’t give them the chance to experience it for themselves? By creating immersive experiences that put young people in the shoes of the sector’s top engineers – whether through use of virtual reality tools or live challenges using new technologies – we can actually inspire them to want to want to embrace the next wave of innovation.

Realising the Fourth Industrial Revolution

While it is clear that IIOT is alive and kicking, it presents a massive challenge for the sector. Bridging the knowledge gap will be crucial to ensuring not only that today’s manufacturers don’t get left behind, but also to inspire the next generation to pick up the baton. There’s no doubt that the way innovators engage the sector can have a huge impact on this in the years to come. Now’s the time to match the approach to knowledge sharing with the exciting potential of the technologies which are revolutionising this sector.

Keith Austin

Keith Austin View Full Profile

Clarity of vision and years of big brand experience have helped Keith take EMS from start-up to market leader. The continual challenges he places on both the business and the team are keeping us in pole position, where we intend to stay.

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