Solving Manufacturing Problems Case Study

Working on the factory floor early in my career taught me how much typical manufacturing workers know and care about the company’s products. Consultants came from time to time, studied, rearranged, left. Not much useful happened. But the individual guys (in those days) on the line knew more about what was going on than most of the supervisors and all of management.

Therefore, an opportunity to talk with Paul Vragel, Founder and President of 4aBetterBusiness in Evanston, IL to discuss his experiences as a project engineer and integrator was too good to pass up. After all, the values he learned and still implements include these:

  • Listen to people
  • Engage employees
  • Respect
  • Ask everyone to look for problems with no fault issued
  • Assume employees have needed knowledge

Vragel told me, “My initial education and experience is in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering – that is, ship design and construction. Building a ship involves building a hotel, a restaurant, a huge warehouse and a power plant, putting them all together, putting a propeller on it and sending it out on the ocean where there are no service stations. Ship design and construction is essentially a demanding, large-scale systems engineering project.”

After graduation from Webb Institute of Naval Architecture, he worked at Newport News Shipbuilding. After a year, 2 prior graduates of Webb Institute, working for Amoco Corporation, hired him, at the age of 22, to manage ship construction programs in Spain. “A couple weeks after I was hired, I was on a plane to Spain with my instruction set being, essentially, ‘figure out what you’re supposed to do, and do that’ ”.

After a year, one of the earlier ships built in the series came in to Lisbon for its guarantee drydocking and inspection. When we opened one of the crankshaft bearings of the 30,000 hp main diesel engine, we saw the bearing material, which was supposed to be in the bearing, was lying on the crankshaft journal, in pieces.

Talk about a complex situation—the ship was built by a company controlled by the Spanish Government. They were the holder of the guarantee. The engine was built by a different company, also controlled by the Spanish Government. Amoco had a contract with the shipyard, not the engine builder. And the engine was built under license from a company in Denmark.

Vragel was there as an observer for the new construction department. The ship was under the control of the operations department. I had no authority and no staff reporting to me. “I had no technical knowledge of poured metal bearings in high-powered diesel engines, I didn’t speak Portuguese or Spanish, I was 23 years old, and the instruction from my boss was very simple: ‘Fix It!’ To add to the urgency of the ship being out of service, the shipyard in Lisbon, where the ship was located, was charging $30,000/day (about $250,000 in today’s dollars), just for being there.”

Vragel went to the engine builder in Spain who said, “We don’t think we have a problem – we think the Danes have a problem. They designed the engine, we just built it according to their instructions.”

Figuring that getting the Danish engineers down to Spain for a meeting wouldn’t be productive, he decided the only thing to do was to go into the plant and talk to the people who made the bearings. One problem – they only spoke Spanish, and he only spoke English. But there are lots of ways to communicate if you really want to. “I observed what they were doing, pointed, asked a lot of questions – they learned a little English, I learned a little Spanish – and we sketched out how the bearings were made.”

After a couple of days, he thought he had figured out the cause of the problem, but “I had the good sense to shut up. While our communication had become pretty good, I was sure that there were other parts of the process they knew about that we hadn’t touched on that might be part of the problem or solution. If I just told them what I thought, everything would stop there without awareness of those elements and we wouldn’t get an effective solution. But if I could work with them through the process so they saw the issues, the employees would bring those additional elements to the table. We would have a full understanding of the system, the employees would be part of the solution. In this way, employees would have ownership in the results.”

“And that’s exactly what happened. With a little more effort we found and fixed the causes of the problem (which was causing porosity in the bearing).”

I had no authority, no technical expertise, no staff, I was 23 years old, I didn’t speak Portuguese or Spanish, and in a few days, working cross language and cross culture in an overseas plant I had never seen in a technology in which I had no experience, we together achieved a solution that permanently raised their manufacturing capability – that they owned.

This key formative experience led to the beliefs on which 4aBetter Business was founded:

  • We believe that employees are the world’s experts at knowing what they actually do every day – their local systems
  • We believe that 90% of the issues in a company are embedded in the way these local systems work and work together

This lesson applies to 22-year-olds and 52-year-olds alike. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our own ideas that we overlook an obvious source of great expertise.

Future Operations, Maintenance, Reliability Workforce

An old friend and several acquaintances found themselves adrift when a magazine closed. All being entrepreneurial, they started a  website and newsletter—RAM Review (Reliability, Availability, Maintenance). Old friend Jane Alexander is the editor. Not meaning she’s old, just that we’ve known each other for many years.

I met Bob Williamson 10 or 12 years ago mostly around discussions of ISO 55000 on asset management. He wrote the lead essay for a recent email newsletter on workforce. Now, I have to admit that the only part of manufacturing I never worked in was maintenance and  reliability. I did work with skilled trades when I was a sales engineer, though. I considered them geniuses for the way they could fix things. One of the points of Bob’s essay is taking care of things before they break and need help.

The main workforce discussion in media concerns remote or hybrid work. Many engineering roles can be performed remotely. Many roles within manufacturing and production must be performed on site. With the current and projected future labor shortage, I like his closing paragraph except for the put down on current operators. I knew plenty who cared for their machine or process. Of course, many didn’t. Most likely a management failure. But cross-training people to be at least to some degree both competent operators and first-line RAM people seems to me to be a winning strategy. I’ve reprinted most of Bob’s essay below. You can read it on their website.

For many manufacturers, returning to traditional ways of work simply will not be an option. Something must change if they are to attract, hire, and retain a capable workforce. Therefore, I believe technology and desperately willing top-management teams will also help alter work cultures on factory floors. Respondents to the Manufacturing Alliance/Aon survey suggested offering “flexible working hours, compressed work weeks, split shifts, shift swapping, and part-time positions.”  Use of such enticements with plant-floor workforces would look very different than use among the carpet dwellers in front offices.

We have another option, of course: Technology can automate our manufacturing processes, and much of it is far more affordable than it was a decade ago. In fact, given the rising cost of labor over the past decade, with increasing healthcare-cost burdens and skills shortages, many businesses have already automated some of their labor-intensive processes. The times we are in call for—make that scream for—large-scale automation. Yet, while process automation can be easier for large, deep-pocketed companies than for the smalls, it’s still a huge challenge.

There are four big hurdles to be overcome when automating manufacturing processes: availability, installation, sustainable reliability, and work-culture change. And remember, skills and labor shortages are widespread in these post-pandemic times. Moreover, despite the supply chain’s efforts to heal and keep up, manufacturers of automation technologies aren’t immune to the production-barrier ills that others face these days.

To repeat: RAM professionals are on manufacturing’s front line. Skill shortages may be affecting our ranks, but there are recruiting and training efforts underway in many companies to remedy the situation. In addition, we have technologies for carrying out data collection, analysis, and problem-solving somewhat remotely. However, the boots-on-the-ground parts of reliability and maintenance will not be virtual or remote.

So, consider this option: Recruit and train displaced production workers to wear some RAM “boots.”  They’ll be familiar with industrial environments and the importance of plant equipment. Then, let’s train our current production workers to care more for their machines than they did in the past, and, in the process, become the eyes and ears for reliability, availability, and maintenance improvement.TRR

Partnership Enhances Skill Development Through Providing For Undergraduate Degrees

Employers finding ways to encourage employees to boost skills and grow is not a new phenomenon. However, this will only grow further for a while as the employee supply chain restocks and reorients following the pandemic. This is an example.

In order to meet new skills demands and develop the workforce of the future for the automotive industry, InStridetoday announced the launch of a pilot program with leading automotive technology company Magna International to develop strategic education programs for qualified employees to access undergraduate degrees and other learning and development opportunities. The company’s initial education offerings will be available for US-based employees beginning this month.

“We are incredibly excited to work with a global mobility powerhouse such as Magna and are looking forward to serving their employees through our academic partnerships,” said Vivek Sharma, CEO of InStride. “The executive team at Magna have been thoughtful in their strategic design of this pilot education program to ensure that Magna employee-learners have the opportunity to access life-changing credentials and skills.”

With this education initiative, internally known as EPIC (Educational Pathways for Innovative Careers), Magna looks to build on its culture of creating continuous, scalable, lifelong learning opportunities for its employees. One way they expect to achieve this objective is by establishing pathways to learning and educational opportunities using InStride’s strategic enterprise education programs. Magna will draw on relevant education providers from InStride’s leading academic network to address skills needs within their organization and support the career objectives of qualified employees. 

“The mobility industry is transforming rapidly and in need of ever-changing skill sets to meet new demands. As vehicles change, the way we design and build them will be drastically different, requiring employees to expand their knowledge to maintain our company’s competitive advantage,” said Aaron McCarthy, Magna Chief Human Resources Officer.“With the help of this pilot program, we hope to continue moving the company forward for and with our employees as part of our learning culture.”

Vuforia Instruct Streamlines Creation of 3D CAD-Based Work Instructions

Augmented Reality. Some of these days, I feel as if I’m living in an alternate reality. I’m attending two company conferences, about to go lift weights, practice some on the guitar, and never leave the house. The joy of virtual conferences is that I don’t have to choose between Las Vegas and Boston to attend a conference this week (like that would be hard…). Shifting mental gears quickly helps keep me young.

One of the conferences was Vuforia Live. This is a PTC acquisition putting the company into the AR race. Given the PLM original side of the business linked with the ThingWorx IoT side of the business plus the Rockwell Automation partnership, this combination should lead to some innovative and useful solutions for customers.

PTC President and CEO Jim Heppelmann led off the event talking about his enthusiasm for the potential of AR calling it IoT for humans. Why AR? Because humans don’t come with an Ethernet port. Seriously, he sees AR as empowering frontline workers.

In short:

I think workflow enhancement is a key digital benefit—if done thoughtfully and intelligently as Cal Newport has detailed in his new book, A World Without Email. The new product out from Vuforia, Instruct, can be such a key tool.

  • New Offering from PTC’s Vuforia Enterprise AR Suite Empowers Front-line Workers to Accurately and Efficiently Complete Inspections and Document Relevant Insights in Real Time.
  • Vuforia Instruct SaaS Offering Enables OEMs to Simplify and Accelerate Authoring of CAD-Based AR Work Instructions.

This is the news release:

From the stage of the Vuforia Live Virtual EventPTC announced the release of Vuforia Instruct out-of-the-box offering from the Vuforia Enterprise Augmented Reality (AR) Suite.

With PTC’s Vuforia Instruct, enterprises can leverage 3D CAD data to easily create, deliver, and scale interactive AR work instructions

The Software as a Service (SaaS)-based offering, available on the PTC Atlas platform, empowers original equipment manufacturers to extend the value of the digital thread all the way to their front-line workers. With Vuforia Instruct, enterprises can leverage 3D CAD data to easily create, deliver, and scale interactive AR work instructions, enabling them to optimize inspections for Quality and Field Maintenance use cases.

“We are thrilled to be working with PTC and Rockwell Automation to bring AR to our customers and see tremendous opportunity to use 3D work instructions to address critical inspection steps within our maintenance, repair, and sanitation processes on our packaging equipment,” said Alexander Ouellet, Innovation Engineer, Harpak-ULMA Packaging. “The enhanced work instructions created with Vuforia Instruct enable us to upskill our customers’ employees, and even our own technical staff, on intricate procedures in mission critical environments. AR technologies will help our customers reap significant productivity gains by enabling them to improve the accuracy and timeliness of complex, manual processes.”

Approximately 67% of manufacturers are still utilizing manual paper processes for inspections. These existing methods are often error-filled, difficult to transcribe, and costly – ultimately becoming barriers to continuous improvement. Such inefficiencies can result in poor product quality or experiences, cost millions of dollars per year, and lead to loss of brand reputation, market position, customer satisfaction, and revenue. Vuforia Instruct enables companies to eliminate reliance on paper forms by delivering contextual visual guidance and references to front-line workers with built-in, real-time inspection feedback to capture critical insights.

“Vuforia Instruct enables organizations to transform the way they create and scale work instructions to their front-line employees,” said Michael Campbell, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Augmented Reality Products, PTC. “Leveraging existing 3D CAD data, organizations can now guide employees to exactly where work needs to be done and provide them with detailed instructions for critical inspection procedures in context. Such enhancements are critical to industrial organizations looking to increase productivity, improve quality, and reduce unplanned downtime.”

Controlled Flying Birds and Workforce Development Highlight Festo Hannover Announcements

I remember the first trip I made to Festo in Germany many years ago. I thought, this is “just” a pneumatics company. What could be interesting about this trip? Then I witnessed what their R&D engineers did with pneumatics. And saw that the company if far deeper than “just” pneumatics.

Even though we could not experience in the flesh, so to speak, this year’s press conference and demonstrations did not disappoint. The company discusses financial results, strategy, general information, an application – assembly of insulin injection pen, workforce issues, and the always delightful demonstration of pneumatic/electronic far-out thinking with this year being a bionic swift (bird).

Most companies I work with have an education and training component. Festo has a division that is dedicated to education from children to adults. Check out the Festo Didactic information below. Maybe you can purchase a bionic bird education kit for your local school’s science and technology program (see information below). I’m living in a new community, but I’m looking for local contacts to help out.

Financial years 2020/2021

Festo’s results were stable despite the pandemic. The Festo Group had to cope with a 7.5% decline in turnover in the 2020 financial year due to the pandemic. Turnover was 2.84 billion euros (previous year 3.07 billion euros). Overall, however, thanks to forward-looking cost-cutting measures and employment protection, the operating result in 2020 was slightly higher than in the previous year.

“This has enabled us to guide our workforce safely through the crisis year and to create a good basis for being ready for the global economy to pick up again. At the same time, it gives us the financial freedom to invest in our future now as well,” said the Chairman of the Management Board, Dipl.-Ing. Dr. h.c. Oliver Jung.

As in the previous year, the company’s R&D ratio was 8% of turnover. 

For 2021, the company expects a catch-up year. “We started the year well, with strong growth in the first quarter. Nevertheless, the end of the pandemic cannot yet be estimated. We are therefore continuing our savings course. At the same time, we continue to invest in our growth and innovation strategy,” Jung affirmed.

Strategy 2025+

Digitalisation and AI determine the product roadmap with smart and intelligent products as enablers for energy efficiency and sustainability in customer solutions.

Festo is focusing on the capability shift upgrading employees’ skills in the digital transformation.

The need for home schooling and virtual training (Digital Education) is growing rapidly in the pandemic. In the lockdown, Festo Didactic successfully launched its new digital learning platform, Festo LX, for technical education and provided a free homeschooling version for mechatronics courses in schools.  

The LifeTech business segment with medical technology and laboratory automation is experiencing a real boom with growth rates of over 100%. Festo is continuously expanding its Technical Engineering Center for LifeTech in Boston, which opened in 2018 and is one of the world’s most important development locations for life science, in order to further develop this promising growth market.

Festo’s products make an important contribution to the fight against COVID 19. In particular, laboratory automation enables high throughput in COVID 19 tests.  Automation is also key in vaccine development and production.

Sustainability needs automation and education

“As a company and society, we have to manage the balancing act in the pandemic of simultaneously finding ways out of the crisis and focusing our future activities on sustainability. Automation and technical education are a key to this. We also have a high social responsibility for sustainable development here,” said Jung. The goal is to gradually develop production in the direction of a circular economy.

“At Festo, we are convinced that pneumatics in particular offers massive advantages over electrics in many areas, and that no other technology can match it. We are currently developing this further in the direction of smart and digital pneumatics. There is still a lot of potential here,” confirmed Jung.

In 2020, Festo has also made great progress internally in climate protection and thus towards its climate target of saving at least 30% CO2 by 2025 (Scope 1 and 2).

Festo has the greatest leverage for climate protection with its customers, through the appropriate product selection of pneumatics and electrics (Scope 3). This is because around 90% of CO2 emissions are generated during product operation and only around 10% during production. Smart products and services, digitalization and AI are giving new impetus to energy efficiency on the way to CO2-neutral production.

As a family-owned company, Festo thinks and acts responsibly and with a long-term perspective. Festo stands for clear values, utmost quality and customer-oriented innovation. It has set standards in industrial automation technology and technical education ever since its establishment, thereby making a contribution to sustainable development of the environment, the economy and society.

Festo is advancing digitalisation in all its corporate divisions. Festo is leading its customers and employees into the digital future. To this end, the company is developing new future-oriented concepts founded on the triad of innovative and energy-efficient technologies, intuitive human-machine collaboration, and education and further training.

Productivity – Festo’s core competency

Innovation for the best possible productivity, a global presence and close, long-term partnerships with its customers are the hallmarks of Festo. In the 1950s, Festo became the first company in Europe to use compressed air as a drive medium in automation. The company now offers over 30,000 products and system solutions for pneumatic and electrical automation technology which, thanks to a large variety of modular systems, can be tailored to specific customer applications in many different factory and process automation industry segments.

Added value through digitalisation
           
Smart products, connectivity, the mining and interpretation of data, including via the cloud, and dashboards for visualisation, already offer added value for customers. Products like the energy efficiency module E2M, IO-Link-capable components, the CPX-IOT gateway or interfaces like OPC-UA contribute to this process. Another basic requirement for successful and consistent digitalisation is mechanical, electrical and intelligent connectivity through software solutions, enabling all customers to find their bearings quickly and intuitively. 

Festo is promoting this with an open automation architecture and a large product portfolio made up of axes, motors and controllers. Standardised software tools are also being developed: configurators for smart engineering, the Festo Automation Suite for easy commissioning and the digital maintenance manager Smartenance for reliable operation. Digitalised pneumatics such as the Festo Motion Terminal VTEM makes pneumatics more flexible than ever before. The reason: apps define the function, the hardware remains the same.

In addition, data analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence are shaping the agile product development of the future. Since 2018, the competence in the field of AI has been strongly expanded. The Festo AX (Festo Automation Experience) software platform is an AI-based software solution that allows production processes to be improved, e.g. with preventive maintenance of assets and machines, monitoring of quality in production or energy consumption.

With AI-based solutions for operations and maintenance processes, the overall equipment efficiency (OEE) of customers is to be improved.

Qualification in the digital transformation

As a leading provider of technical education and training, Festo Didactic is responding to current megatrends such as digitalisation and the energy transition. Because these trends are changing industry and production processes. Festo Didactic supports its customers with learning solutions and supports them to ensure the employability and productivity of employees and companies.

Festo Didactic offers a comprehensive range of learning solutions. Learners acquire technology knowledge and soft skills both in team-oriented and practical training on physical learning systems with industrial components, but also location- and time-independent through digital online learning opportunities. The new digital learning portal Festo Learning Experience (Festo LX) creates individual learning experiences for learners and teachers.

The fast way to a safe insulin pen

Syntegon’s assembly system for medical technology with the Festo automation platform 

Diabetes is on the rise worldwide with around 10 million people being diagnosed with the disease every year. This pushes up the demand for insulin pens for self-injection. Syntegon’s Danish subsidiary has developed an automated system for assembling these pens using the Festo automation platform.

“I have a dream,” says Michael Andersen, Sales Director of Syntegon Technology Sandved in Denmark. “I have a dream of our machines doing on-the-fly format changes. That would be the culmination of our philosophy of flexibility and agility that we strive for in our company,” adds the automation expert.

Flexibility and agility

“By using the Festo automation platform, which includes the servo press kit, we are already very close to making this dream come true,” says Andersen. In fact, Festo’s servo press kit YJKP – a preconfigured modular system consisting of software, controllers and standard electrical drives – can be easily integrated in the plant and offers a high degree of flexibility thanks to the preinstalled software. This means that the modular press system with servo drive for electric pressing and joining up to 17 kN is ready for immediate use and, compared to similar solutions on the market, is both intuitively to parameterize and cost-effective.

“We have installed more than a 100 servo press kits in the automated assembly lines for insulin pens,” says Ulrik Keldke, Head of Syntegon’s engineering department in Sandved. The precisely adjustable pressing and joining forces ensure consistent quality and low reject rates. “What we particularly like about the Festo servo press kit is that it’s quick and easy to commission, and the machine operators don’t need to be trained to use it,” explains chief engineer Keldke.

Quality and safety

“Automating the assembly line is a prerequisite for meeting the requirements for the end product: the insulin pens must be safe and user-friendly,” says Andersen. The pens must not break when used by the patients, as that would put them at risk. The Servo Press Kit keeps the tension and pressure constant. “The glass of the syringes should never be subjected to irregular pressure as they would break,” Keldke says. The automated systems ensure that the insulin pens are always in order and can deliver the exact amount of insulin.

Depending on the machine type, Syntegon’s assembly lines produce up to 300 pens per minute. The degree of automation is scalable according to requirements and can also be adapted at a later date. The machine concepts are based either on a rotary table for low to medium outputs or on a linear transport system for high outputs. The system can be expanded with automatic feeders and stations to increase output and the degree of automation.

Consistency and reliability

Syntegon Technology, formerly Bosch Packaging Technology, sees itself as a provider of integrated solutions. The assembly line for insulin pens can be expanded into a complete line with other systems from the company. Pharmaceutical manufacturers can thus be provided with machines for all process steps, from filling, capping, assembly, testing, to labelling and packaging – preconfigured and from a single source.

The machine control system is based on electrical and pneumatic components and modules from the Festo automation platform. This ensures a consistency of supply since Festo products are available worldwide and offer open interfaces to higher-level controllers. The CPX-E-CEC module from Festo establishes the connection to the process control level, allowing it to be used with Profinet or, for other customers in Europe, with EtherCat. Especially for North American customers, however, the system could also be supplied with an Ethernet/IP module.

Bionic Swift: A Bionically Inspired Robotic Bird

So, the cool demonstration this year was the Bionic Swift. This year’s engineering innovation has been incorporated into the “Bionics4Education” program. Its target market is high school education and also industrial training. 

It is one of the oldest dreams of mankind: flying like a bird. The lift and propulsion of birds have been ingeniously achieved by nature. Birds measure, control and regulate their movements continuously and completely autonomously. The inspiration for the development of the Bionic Swift educational kit came from the Bionic Learning Network, a research association with universities, institutes and development companies whose goal is to produce novel technology carriers through the application of bionics. In 2020, the BionicSwift was presented to the public for the first time. Festo Didactic wants to bring the world of bionics together with the education sector in order to promote working in interdisciplinary project teams as well as problem-oriented learning and creativity at schools.

The Bionic Swift is a robotic bird inspired by the bird world. Festo based its development on the natural model of the swallow. With the experimental set, scientific and technical correlations as well as the fascination of bird flight and the topics of lightweight construction, energy efficiency and aerodynamics can be impressively conveyed in STEAM lessons using a project-based approach.

The mechanisms of action of the flap of the wings can be explored in a playful way by students in class. Weighing less than 45 grams, the ultra-light flying object Bionic Swift shows particularly agile flight behaviour. Due to its extreme manoeuvrability, even tight turns can be realised. The Bionic Swift experimental set is recommended for up to three learners and from the age of 15. 

The references to biology and technology that can be taught in STEAM lessons or at extracurricular learning venues are numerous and reach from the structure of tubular bones to wing take-off and landing to the basics of movements in the air. This allows teachers to teach technical learning content via a new, cross-curricular educational learning path. Accompanying teaching material, as well as the assembly manual, can be downloaded free of charge from our website

Coalition Addresses Manufacturing Skills Gap with Robotics and Automation Apprenticeship Programs

My grandfather influenced me in the direction of manufacturing through his stories of life. He left high school at the urging of his step-father to apprentice as a machinist at the Monarch Machine Tool Co. and then worked up to production superintendent at a GM plant. He had a lot of interesting stories. I never apprenticed at much anything, but I always thought it was a win-win for people and companies. Finally, others are coming around to that view. Here is news from FANUC and Rockwell Automation.

FANUC America and Rockwell Automation officially formed a coalition to kick off accelerated work and learn apprenticeship programs designed to upskill current and future workers for jobs in advanced manufacturing, robotics and automation.

The coalition includes APT, a FANUC and Rockwell Automation systems integrator, and NOCTI Business Solutions, which provides independent assessments of occupational standards and validation using recognized International Organization for Standardization (ISO) process validation methods. Franklin Apprenticeships is also a key partner of the coalition, ensuring apprenticeship support structure and success enablers for employers and apprentices.

The coalition has developed new apprenticeship programs offering people opportunities to gain credentials that include fundamental robotics (Robot Operator) and automation (PLC Operator). The program offers a second level of credentials for Robot and PLC Technicians. A third credentialing level called Integration Specialist builds on the fundamental and technical skills that teaches people to operate and troubleshoot integrated FANUC-Rockwell Automation technologies. All of the new apprenticeship offerings will provide more people with fulfilling careers and help companies to bridge the demand for skilled workers.     

“Our number one goal is to help create a worker pipeline that will not only help people increase their skills and future earning potential, but to help manufacturers achieve their production goals and maintain a thriving economy,” said Paul Aiello, Director of Education, FANUC America. “In most cases, current and future workers can complete the apprenticeship skills training and achieve their industry-recognized certifications in less than one year.   It’s also important to note that these programs support all types of apprenticeship and certification models, including pre-apprenticeships.”

“As industry adopts new technologies, it is vital to be able to quickly adapt with a well-trained workforce,” said Michael Cook, Director Global Academic Organization, Rockwell Automation. “Having the most current standards will drive manufacturing competitiveness and simultaneously grow new talent to these new occupations, upskill current employees, and allow companies to be more agile in their workforce planning.”

The apprenticeship programs aim to help companies rapidly upskill employees at every level from Operator to Technician to Integration System Specialist. In addition to improving the skills of current production workers, these programs will be extremely valuable for engineers who are working to implement new automation systems and processes that require new employees trained in the latest automation technologies. 

“As technology advances at a fast pace, it is important that companies play a bigger role in education to ensure a safe, productive and sustainable work environment,” said Aiello. “FANUC and our coalition look forward to helping as many people as possible take advantage of these accelerated work and apprenticeship programs.” 

Over 40 leading companies, including Dana, Magna, Tyson Foods and Flex-N-Gate, have agreed to support and participate in apprenticeships for automation technologies, ensuring that their employees receive adequate training and are qualified to succeed.

Customer Testimonials

“Automation is imperative to a competitive U.S. manufacturing base.  In order to meet our demand in automationexpansion, we will need skilled candidates to fill high-demand, and technically driven positions like Robot Operator, Robot Technician and Integrated Systems Specialist.”  Heidi Koedam, Manager, Engineering Learning Organization, Dana Incorporated.

“In order to support the expansion of manufacturing automation and create growth and development opportunities for our employees, we join this project team to engage skilled candidates and help fill technically driven positions like robot operators, robot technicians and integrated systems specialists.  Magna Seating projects it will support a number of maintenance technician trainees between 2021 and 2023.”  Paul N. Myles, Sr. Manager, Government Workforce Development and Training Programs, Magna International Inc. 

Tyson Foods currently has a US DOL Industrial Maintenance Apprenticeship underway and we are successfully developing our team members.  FANUC has won our national account and it makes a lot of sense to collaborate with FANUC and other vendors, such as Rockwell/Allen-Bradley on these Level 1, 2, and 3 apprenticeship standards.  I applaud FANUC’s support of workforce development across the nation at secondary and post-secondary institutions.”  Mike Rogers, Senior Director Maintenance and Refrigeration, Tyson Foods.

“We take pride at Flex-N-Gate in helping our employees build fulfilling careers.  As we expand, we’re looking for qualified and ambitious people for our team, and we feel high-value apprenticeships are an ideal avenue to helping people start or expand their careers.”  Bill Beistline, Executive VP – Flex-N-Gate Metals Manufacturing & Procurement.

FANUC and Rockwell Automation have worked together over the past decade developing training, certifications and an education and training delivery network. FANUC’s network of educational partners includes more than 1200 high school and post-secondary FANUC-certified training organizations, and over 150 university and career technical training partners associated with this industry team.  FANUC’s network of schools coupled with Rockwell Automation’s education partners represent nearly 1600 schools, the largest nationwide collaboration of industry and education working to narrow the skills gap.