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Solving the Manufacturing Workforce Crisis of 2030

Sir James Dyson, British inventor, industrial designer and founder of the Dyson Company once said, “Manufacturing is more than just putting parts together. It’s coming up with ideas, testing principles and perfecting the engineering, as well as final assembly.” He’s absolutely right; manufacturing is more than just manual labor on a shop floor somewhere. Today’s manufacturing jobs require a new wave of skilled employees, but where are they?

It amazes me to think about how far manufacturing in the U.S. has come since the days of the industrial revolution and all the way up through the 1950’s. Fast forward to today and you’ll see a manufacturing industry that now relies on advances in technology to drive production and help fuel a global economy. In fact, my colleague Chet Namboodri in his blog ‘Manufacturing Predictions for 2015’ mentions that advancements and adoption of industrial robotics will rapidly advance across all manufacturing segments. However, the longstanding perception of manufacturing has been one of harsh work environments, something that is no longer the case in many manufacturing plants. This outdated perception must be laid to rest and changed amongst a new, younger generation of tech-savvy workers because it’s discouraging qualified candidates from pursuing lucrative careers in manufacturing and directly impacting production in the U.S., a trend that could cause a largely diminished manufacturing workforce by 2030.

The New Manufacturing Environment

Overall, the manufacturing industry is more productive, efficient, and poised for new technological advances made possible by the Internet of Things (IoT). In the 1950s, long, tedious business and production processes created a labor-intensive manufacturing industry. Employees worked in difficult and hazardous environments every day. But as technology advanced, so did manufacturing. A lot of manufacturing jobs are no longer traditional assembly line roles and an industry once driven by manual labor is now moving forward at a much faster pace thanks to machine automation, information technology, and increased plant floor communications. Operators now require advanced knowledge of computers, software, science, and math to program machines that control manufacturing processes.

The manufacturing industry in the U.S. faces a workforce crisis as a widening skills gap is created as many workers reach the age of retirement. If current trends continue, U.S. manufacturers will be unable to fill 2 million manufacturing jobs by 2025, due to a worsening shortage of required skills, according to a report by the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte. Today, there are really good, well-paying positions that need to be filled across the manufacturing industry. Many students and new graduates fail to consider manufacturing on their quest to find a career path – something that must change. Manufacturers must begin engaging local high schools and trade schools to enhance pipelines of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) trained graduates and developing strategies to attract qualified candidates as they enter the workforce.

Girls For IoT Innovation

Attracting the Next Generation of Manufacturers

The next generation of workers expects to always be connected. They have multiple mobile devices and interact with peers in new ways all the time. This inherent skillset can be a great asset to the manufacturing industry and with the advance of IoT, there will be a strong need for a STEM ready workforce. To generate interest in STEM and perhaps a career in manufacturing, educators must start early. Starting in elementary school, up through high school and college, career relevant math, science and computer instruction should be made available to a wider audience of students across age groups, demographics and geographies.

Not only are more skilled and tech-savvy workers needed put part of the manufacturing skills gap is the result of a lack of women in manufacturing. In fact, women have become an underutilized resource in STEM careers in general – something else that also must change. Pa. Women make up half of the U.S. workforce, but less than a quarter of manufacturing (STEM) jobs are held by women. How can manufacturers attract women to the industry and fill the current skills and gender gaps?

It starts with education. We need to educate young women about what a career in manufacturing is actually about, without continuing the negative perception of work environments. We can do this by supporting STEM education with programs that give kids practical hands-on experience. This is best accomplished when manufacturing industry leaders and organizations reach out to students and new grads, and encourage government leaders to invest in the right kind of training experiences in school curriculum.

IoT World Forum Young Women’s Innovation Grand Challenge

Cisco is helping to educate young women about STEM careers through the IoT World Forum Young Women’s Innovation Grand Challenge . The initiative is a global innovation challenge open to young women between the ages of 13-18. The aim of the challenge is to recognize, promote, and reward young innovators as they come up with new uses for Internet of Things technologies and is open now through May 18th, 2015. You can learn more about the IoT World Forum Young Women’s Innovation Grand Challenge here.

Whether next-generation workers seek a traditional college experience or vocational schooling, students must be exposed to the various options and training opportunities that are available in the manufacturing industry. Organizations should position themselves as go-to resources for prospects looking for jobs in manufacturing. They should offer internships and be able to connect future employees to employers. Hosting workshops, seminars, and conferences are also good forums to make connections.

Through these types of experiences, we can allow students and educational professionals to build passion for the manufacturing industry. In turn, the necessary skillsets will follow. The next-generation techniques and technologies on the plant floor will entice the new age of tech-savvy students. We need solutions now for the workforce of tomorrow and we are the advocates of manufacturing’s next generation workforce. Let me know your ideas in the comments below on how we can all make a difference on this issue.

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IoT in Action Webcast: Opportunities and Momentum in Manufacturing

blogThe widespread adoption of the Internet of Things, connecting sensors, equipment, machines and assembly lines to the network is driving a manufacturing industry transformation. In fact, nearly 30 percent of all manufacturing-related firms are in some stage of piloting, implementing, or expanding IoT deployments. By 2017, an expected 80 percent will have implemented an IoT solution.

Many manufacturers are in the process of figuring out how to deploy a Connected Factory, or perhaps pilot a smaller scale wireless network pilot project in their manufacturing facility. In fact, ARC analyst Greg Gorbach who covers ‘Industrial Internet of Things’ recently wrote a blog, ‘Let’s just try it’, focusing on a panel presentation that I was part of at their recent conference. This blog focuses on the Stanley Black and Decker success story at their Reynosa factory in Mexico and how a ‘let’s just try it’ approach yielded these results: “OEE increased 24%, defects decreased 16%, labor utilization is up from 80 to 92%, and line throughput is up 10%.  In addition they now have empowered employees, improved labor ergonomics, reduced labor training, and better visibility for line supervisors.”

If you are in the midst of this decision process on ‘where to start’, I’d like to encourage you to access our webcast on demand titled “IoT: Oppportunities and Momentum in Manufacturing”, A part of the IoT in Action series, this webcast covers key learnings from industry thought leaders from Forrester Research, AeroScout Industrial, and Cisco. These experts, Michelle Pelino from Forrester, Priya Vijayakumar from AeroScout and Chet Namboodri from Cisco discuss what it takes to make the transition to IoT and how companies are reaping the benefits of efficiency, cost savings, better data analysis, and faster time to market. Check out this webcast and let me know what you think.

Thanks for reading!

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Connected Manufacturing at CiscoLive Milan

I just got back from a fantastic week at Cisco Live in Milan.  We had a packed ‘Cisco Connected Manufacturing’ pavilion at the event, showcasing the latest in demonstrations and industrial solutions for both customers and partners.

CL Milan 2015The centerpiece of the demos was how manufacturers can leverage technology such as Cisco Connected Factory to address some of the business challenges they are facing including increased competitive pressures and changing global demand.  In fact, European manufacturers are turning to technology to give them a clear competitive advantage as they streamline their supply chain and factory operations as well as accelerate their new product introduction cycles.  We showcased various components of the Connected Factory, including rapid response and troubleshooting, Profinet integration, IoT Factory in a box and plant network analytics.

We received great feedback and energetic interest from booth visitors.  The Manufacturing demos were the highest rated at the show and were recognized multiple times in the various keynotes.   I asked my colleague Todd Edmunds, Enterprise Architect, to comment:

There was a lot of excitement around our working demonstration showing Siemens controls communicating via Profinet – including real-time Cisco IE2000 switch status inside the Siemens programming environment.  All across the same network with Rockwell Automation control systems, and anything else Ethernet.  Our key message that ‘we can support whatever you need on the network’ really resonated with booth visitors.”

Our various IoT solutions and products can really impact operational efficiencies and help manufacturers achieve significant outcomes such as reduction in unplanned downtime, for example.  It was great to see customers understand these benefits and I think that is due to the efforts of the tireless team that brought these demo scenarios to life.

We will be bringing many of these demos and products to the Cisco booth at the upcoming Hannover Messe (April 13 to 17th in Germany).  The theme of that show ‘Towards a Fully Networked Industrial Future’ dovetails nicely with our strengths and solutions.

Let me know if you were at CiscoLive Milan and drop me a comment.  Thanks for reading!

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Automation World Awards First Team Honors To Cisco Systems for Leadership in Networking

Recently, Cisco was honored in the Automation World 2014 First Team Honorees list. This award recognizes Cisco as a leader and trusted partner for manufacturing, distributing and industrial companies.

A Paved Path to IoE Value

We’ve heard a lot about the $14.9T value opportunity provided by the Internet of Everything (IoE) with $3.9T or 26% of the overall IoE value residing in manufacturing and industrial (Mining, Oil and Gas, …) industries.  The challenge for the market is determining the best and most efficient path to capture that value.

The Automation World 2014 First Team Honoree award validates that the industry is embracing Cisco’s holistic approach of providing tightly integrated system architectures and solutions like Cisco Connected Factory – Automation and Cisco Connected Factory – Wireless as a best practice path to IoE value.

1st team automationIn fact, these solutions are being deployed by leading manufacturers like Proctor and Gamble, GM,Stanley Black and Decker,Sub Zero, and Shell. These forward thinking companies are tightly integrating their entire business value chain from R&D, operations, and supply chain through to customer retention and acquisition sales, and driving the business outcomes that give them a competitive advantage in the market.

Its Not About Products or Solutions … It’s About the OUTCOMES!

This award is not about the ‘speeds and feeds’ on how the Cisco Aironet 1550 Series Outdoor Access Points enables a self-healing, and self-optimizing wireless network that mitigates the impact of wireless interference or how the Cisco Industrial Ethernet IE2000, IE3000 and IE400 Series Switches extends the proven Cisco Catalyst technologies prevalent in enterprise networks to industrial networks for ease of use and best in class performance.

It’s about how these wired and wireless products were easily integrated into a Connected Factory Solution Architecture and enabled,

…Stanley Black and Decker to maximize their plant productivity and operational efficiency.

“With the help of the Cisco and AeroScout Industrial solution, we are on our way toward realizing our vision of a virtual warehouse and fully connected factory, with complete visibility and traceability.” –Gary Frederick, CIO Industrial Division, Stanley

…Sub Zero to meet their new product introduction goals and reduce manufacturing downtime.

“With this solution, we found a way to see and discuss very detailed video and images from afar in a highly secure manner. We are now using video collaboration on a daily basis to finalize designs, correct production line issues, work with suppliers, and train installers and servicers.”  – Paul Sikir, VP of Engineering, Sub-Zero

My colleagues Bryan Tantzen, Sr. Director -IoE Manufacturing and Todd Edmunds, IoE Architect demonstrate the possibilities of Connected Factory

Cisco Connected Factory is the foundational building block for these transformative business processes that leads to greater innovation and efficiencies throughout the business value chain. We thank our customers, partners and Automation World for partnering with us as we pave the way to IoE value nirvana!

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Focus on Operations for 2015

Welcome back from a restful holiday break, assuming you were able to take one. But, like many in manufacturing, you might not had too much time off.  According to Industry Week and MAPI, the High Tech industry in particular is booming and there is no slowdown to be seen.  For the IT teams supporting these types of manufacturing operations, that means a lot more time troubleshooting and making sure that the network is always up and running.  With the efficiencies that companies have put in place to see additional growth numbers (ERP, HRMS and other systems), the focus is moving more and more towards the work areas and away from the corporate side of the operations.

The recent blog from my colleague Chet Namboodri on “2015 Manufacturing Industry Predictions , highlights some key trends including the shift to the operational side of the house. In addition, new services offerings are coming from completely different markets to drive the space in new ways.  To do many of these offerings, the basics of the factory are going to start to be analyzed in ways that have not been possible before.  The base to build this analysis capability is the networking foundation where we will connect the information stores into a holistic view of the operations so you can understand what is going on from an end to end picture and drive new capabilities by tying in more and more information.

While this can be a daunting task to many, Cisco and our partners are currently doing this with our IoT and IoE initiatives. In my recent blog on The Internet of Things Accelerates Innovation and Value Creation for Manufacturers, I mentioned tying together systems that in the past were stand-alone operational systems with other operational systems as well as with the Enterprise systems that have been in place but were not part of the full picture.  This can include integrating maintenance systems with HR/Scheduling systems as well as sales and ordering systems.  An example I use (and am currently working with a customer on implementing) is to actually tie these systems together so that you know when machines are going to be down and when people are to be scheduled.  While this has been done in the past, we are now adding sales information to the mix to understand that if a system is down what orders may be delayed and if there is a key order for a key customer that should not be delayed. In the past, this extra step was rarely done and the result was a conflict between sales and operations and finger pointing all around.

This and other examples WILL result in improved operations and even more important increases in capacity management and employee productivity.  The costs are minimal, the time to get it right is the key. How are you focusing on operations and analytics in 2015?