Transitioning to Industry 4.0: How to develop and maintain an Industry 4.0-compliant workforce?
Embracing the Fourth Industrial Revolution also means preparing an Industry 4.0 (I4.0)-compliant workforce. Having a workforce that is skilled in the areas related to I4.0 ensures a smooth, non-disruptive transition towards I4.0.
On that note, we had the chance to talk to Ahmad Khairi, manager and trainer in the Drive and Control Academy Malaysia of Bosch Rexroth Sdn. Bhd., on how to develop and sustain a workforce that is Industry 4.0-compliant.
Bosch Rexroth is a German-based company that develops safe, efficient, intelligent and high-performance solutions in the area of Factory Automation, Mobile Applications, Machinery Applications, and Engineering. In Malaysia, Bosch Rexroth has been established since 1978.
“We’re still at an early stage for a revolution, we can already see Industry 4.0 starting to impact the conditions of the manufacturing sector. Industry 4.0 has been improving processes, reducing costs and increasing productivity.” Khairi said.
He added, the goal of realizing this revolution is understanding and analyzing data through Big Data Analysis, where data from machines and processes are now heavily relied upon in decision-making scenarios.
“All of these is a new trend, new technologies. Therefore, it is important to have trained employees, even graduates that are highly skilled in these new areas. Only then, can the process of adoption take place smoothly.” Khairi explained.
Bosch Rexroth Malaysia has been putting in an effort to ensure that their employees are well equipped with relevant information and skills related to I4.0.
Picture courtesy of Bosch Rexroth Malaysia
“Practical, hands-on training is one of our most important approach in maintaining an Industry 4.0-compliant workforce. Practical training is important to show our employees, in first-hand, how these trends have the ability to shape our future.” Khairi said.
Participants of these training are given the chance to expose themselves in areas such as hydraulics, mechatronics, and automation through industry-grade equipment and technologies. By providing easy access to these tools, the “adjustment period” to familiarize themselves with the latest technologies is shortened.
Picture courtesy of Bosch Rexroth Malaysia
He further explained, “Taking steps in introducing simple yet informational topics like “What is IoT?”, does not only spark interest but also, provides our workers exposure on Industry 4.0. It is even important to ensure that workers who are not related in these areas to be equally prioritised as these trends will become must-know topics in the near future.”
“Adding on to that, our general manager, Michel Gunawan, puts in the effort to conduct quarterly townhall sessions, where our employees gather, discuss and share topics, doubts, and information on the various elements that make up Industry 4.0 such as cloud connectivity, IoT (Internet of Things) and automation.”, Khairi added.
He further explained that these townhall sessions sparks the interests and instils in their employees a large pool of knowledge related to I4.0 and even better, creates a conducive learning environment.
Other than that, Khairi also believes that participation in public events such as Malaysia Autoshow 2019 that was organised by MARii tend to increase the knowledge, confidence and is also serves as a platform to exchange ideas with various experienced professionals and the general public itself.
Bosch Rexroth Malaysia showcased their smart manufacturing line and how it can smoothen and fasten the production process while ensuring high-end results.
“However, practicing what we preach is the best testimonial you can ever have and for that, we leverage the Internet to develop an e-learning platform where our employees can have access to numerous content ranging from forums to courses that are contributed by world-renowned professionals in their respective fields. Indirectly, this approach showcases how important connectivity is and how it can destroy the geographical barrier.” Khairi elaborated.
What’s more interesting is that this e-learning platform is not exclusive to Bosch Rexroth’s employees. In fact, it is also open to external parties who are interested in indulging themselves in contents related to I4.0.
*For more information on this e-learning platform, please contact Bosch Rexroth Malaysia.
“As much as we as a company would like to stay relevant with the upcoming trends, we feel it is important for the future workforce to be as competent as experienced professionals. With that said, we have been working with educational institutions and TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training)-based institutions by providing these institutions a certification that allows them to carry out the same trainings that we conduct for our employees.” Khari said.
He explained, “This program provides a platform for us to share our knowledge on Industry 4.0-related topics but more importantly, it provides an opportunity for our future workforce to gain these knowledge at an early stage which results in them gaining a chance to apply for higher-value jobs.”
*For more information on this certification program, please contact Bosch Rexroth Malaysia.
“We believe that, if a company be it a multi-national corporation or a SME, is interested to adopt Industry 4.0-related technologies into their processes, they should ask themselves this question – “What are the challenges faced when adopting these technologies?”.”, Khairi said.
Khairi explained that it is all about using the right tool, which does not necessarily mean spending a lot of money in investing in new equipment. Existing equipment can be upgraded to include I4.0-related technologies such as sensors, RFID tags and IoT Gateways which eases the adoption process. Most importantly, make sure that nothing is disruptive.
“Even the government has been positive in embracing Industry 4.0. They have been investing in various awareness programs especially MITI’s Industry4WRD Readiness Assessment Program where interested companies can get their operations capabilities and readiness in adopting Industry 4.0 assessed and analysed.”, Khairi said.
For more information on the Industry4WRD Readiness Assessment program, click here.