Chicago, Illinois – As manufacturing embraces digital technologies to monitor and manage processes, training employees how to use those new tools to their fullest will become a massive challenge. To address those needs, software and equipment giant Siemens has upgraded its Elk Grove, Illinois, Technical Application Center, adding more classroom space and machines.
”Betting on the status quo is a dangerous proposition,” says Raj Batra, president of Siemens USA’s Digital Factory Division. “People and companies that don’t start embracing new techniques will be digitally disrupted.”
Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Industry 4.0 technologies can tie together disparate disciplines by connecting digital designs to manufacturing processes to inventory management to shipping systems. That connectivity will require new skill sets for employees – a better understanding of design and simulation tools for shop-floor employees; a better understanding of machining processes for procurement specialists; an appreciation of machine maintenance issues for the accounting department.
”Manufacturers are constantly looking for ways to train their employees on evolving CNC technologies as they transition to digital factories,” says Sascha Fischer, segment manager of motion controls form Siemens’ machine tool business. “Hands-on training and virtual programs like these are extremely important.”
The upgraded facility, nearly Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, features three milling machines, a turning center, a robotic center, NX-CAM training stations, and several simulators running Siemens’ Sinumerik CNC software.
In addition to the expanded hands-on systems, Siemens is expanding its virtual training offerings with webinars featuring detailed technical subjects.
Batra says the importance of training will only grow as manufacturers embrace technology. Connectivity solutions promise greater visibility into operations, the ability to predict the need for system maintenance, and the ability to plan production more efficiently and boost capacity utilization. But simply adding software and connectivity equipment isn’t enough.
Rajiv Sivaraman, vice president of Siemens PLM Data Services in the U.S., says the amount of data being gathered by manufacturers is growing exponentially, but far too little of that information is being analyzed in useful ways.
IIoT systems promise informed decision making and faster execution, but Sivaraman says those benefits only come when skilled analysts study machine outputs and determine where improvements can be made.
Siemens executives will detail their ideas for connected factories, pairing simulation with manufacturing data, and cloud data management at EMO Hannover 2017 in Germany in September.
About the author: Robert Schoenberger is the editor of Today's Motor Vehicles and a contributor to Today's Medical Developments and Aerospace Manufacturing and Design. He has written about the automotive industry for more than 17 years at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio; The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky; and The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi.