There are quite a few considerations to take into account when adopting and implementing an Industry 4.0 training program. Over the past several months, Intelitek has been working together with state and federal organizations, such as ARM (Advanced Robotics in Manufacturing) and the OMA (Ohio Manufacturers Association), that are bringing together industrial companies, colleges, workforce development boards and others to agree on the needs of Industry 4.0 training.
Below are five points that were widely viewed as of the highest importance.
Before we jump in, a preliminary comment: Many vendors use ‘Industry 4.0’ as a marketing gimmick. Adding the words ‘industry 4.0’ to the name of a product or curriculum, does not make it relevant per se. We recommend you make sure that the program you adopt is more than a buzzword and is backed by a widely recognized body such as ARM or OMA.
Here are the must haves:
- Industry Grade: if you are going to learn and be certified, you might as well do it on the real thing. This does not mean you cannot use educational tools and simulations when you start learning. However, as you reach the level when you are looking to become proficient and get certified, you need to have experience on the equipment you will see in industry. At Intelitek, in the robotics field, we offer a fundamentals level with the ER4U (a low-cost educational robot). We then advance to a Yaskawa simulation and curriculum package. Finally, we work with the Yaskawa certification cart, where students will need to demonstrate they can operate and program an actual industrial robot from Yaskawa.
- Sustainability: for a program to be successful in the medium and long term it must be sustainable. Many programs are started by a teacher that comes from industry and has a great sense of how to teach and what needs to be taught. What happens when that teacher retires or goes back to industry? There are two main elements that support the sustainability of a long-term program. The first is a curriculum. Every teacher needs to have a curriculum that covers the entire program. Some will not use it at all, others will rely on it heavily and some will have the students work through it on their own. In all these cases, the curriculum is there as a backbone, to sustain the program. The second element is to have a train the trainer program. Your curriculum and certification vendor should be able to help sustain the program so if you have a new teacher and need to get them trained to certify students – you are able to simply make a call and schedule a date. Anything else – means you are in trouble.
- Flexibility: we are in a challenging era. New technologies are being adopted at a much faster pace. Baby boomers are retiring and Industry needs employees today. Incumbent employees need to retrain on newer technologies in order to stay relevant or advance. This means that your program needs to address all tiers of experience and different time frames that students have to study. Allowing a student to gain certain credits on fundamental skills, go to work and continue their studies as part of an apprenticeship program – will allow the student to continue progressing and allow your program to remain relevant.
- Interoperability: Industry 4.0 is based on the interoperability of different systems. If your program does not address problem solving that combines different disciplines such as electrical, mechatronics, robotics, vision, automation, networking and cloud computing – you are not teaching Industry 4.0 comprehensively. The big jump in Industry 4.0 is in the understanding that every component of the manufacturing line is now connected. We can have these components communicate with each other and generate data that will enable us to look at making the production more efficient and competitive. So multi-discipline training, interoperability and integration of technology is key!
- Hands On: No training program can prepare a student for a job in industry unless the students experience significant hands on activity. If a student is certified without any lab activity – how will that help the employer. With integration becoming a more important requirement, the hands-on activities need to be cross-discipline. Students need to be able to deal with Industry 4.0 technologies, but also be trained on existing technologies and how they interact.
At Intelitek, we have developed a Smart Factory and Industry 4.0 trainer that requires students to work through the different disciplines and then integrate electrical, mechanical, pneumatics, robots, plc automation, machine vision, IP networking, and more. This is a factory that uses real industrial equipment that the students build from scratch, integrate, program, troubleshoot and maintain. A powerful learning experience that fully trains them on industry 4.0.
Contact us for more information on our Industry 4.0 programs.