Automation & Education For 21st Century Manufacturing

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Automation is one of the hottest subjects surrounding the manufacturing industry in the 21st century and with good reason. Not only does it help manufacturers keep up with growing global demand, it also helps create new job opportunities as well as help a manufacturer progress into the 21st century.

Manufacturers are more connected to global markets than ever before. Besides this, international buyers are also looking to purchase unique and customized products that could not have been mass produced affordably before automation. Automation creates a highly flexible manufacturer that can create specific products for buyers no matter what they are looking for. Advanced robotic systems are perfect for this kind of work.

The problem is, many of these advanced robotic systems aren’t able to start producing components straight out of the box. An employee must be there to program the robot and automate the necessary process with some using something like robotic process automation to do so. In the case of advanced robots an employee needs to reprogram the robot to perform the desired task. This is where these advanced robotic systems are creating jobs.

When people think about robots in the factory they immediately assume that robots will take the jobs of hard-working Americans. The fact is, these robots are actually creating new positions in the facility that was not there before the robotic systems were in place.

Welding robotic arms have become increasingly more popular among large manufacturers and as the cost of these machines continues to drop, smaller manufacturers are beginning to make use of them as well. Of course, there are some smaller companies that prefer to use a quality 110v welder but having a robotic welding robot can speed up the production line. Just because the robot is doing the welding does not mean the technician doesn’t need to know how to weld. The technicians need to make sure that they know how to use welding equipment like the ones from Cigweld. The technicians still need to understand how the metal will react to the heat and also have a thorough grasp of welding techniques and the science behind it. Beyond welding knowledge, these welding robot technicians need to have the skills to program the robot to perform the task assigned to it and also be able to reprogram the machine to keep up with dynamic demand. Welding schools are now offering robotic training to prepare their students for the manufacturing industry of today.

For example, Fox Valley Technical College now requires students to train on robot welding stations. FVTC installed these new stations this past summer with a $2.9 million U.S. Department of Labor grant to prepare students for their future career. Advanced manufacturing skills are what manufacturers are looking for today and without this unique and highly technical training they could be overlooked. This technical training will make them the ideal candidate for any major manufacturer around the country.

These kind of grants are what the manufacturing industry needs to fill their growing skills gap. Training and education are crucial to give the workforce the skills they need to work in a 21st century facility. As these systems become more affordable and widespread throughout smaller manufacturers, these skills will make the move from being an additional skill to a necessary skill.

More schools are offering a curriculum to get students ready for the advanced manufacturing industry. Pennsylvania College of Technology is also providing an amazing education for students interested in a STEM (Science Technology Engineering & Mathematics) career. This schools offers courses to help students feel comfortable in a 21st century manufacturing organization. Giving them the skills they will need to work in over 100 different career field throughout the ever growing and increasingly more advanced manufacturing industry.

The manufacturing industry is in the processes of a new industrial revolution. Automation and robotic systems are at the heart of this new industrial revolution, known as industry 4.0. It can be expected that even more advanced skills will be needed to accommodate the Industrial Internet of Things digital infrastructure that will become common in the near future. As the manufacturing industry continues to become more dependent on technology to keep up with the ever changing global market, more training in these new skills sets will be even more critical. For now, schools like Fox Valley Technical College and Pennsylvania College of Technology are providing a necessary service to prepare students for a career in the 21st century manufacturing industry.