State of Automation

Professionalism: Past and Present

During a recent machine malfunction, I witnessed a one-dimensional exercise in problem solving.  Rather than utilizing a structured approach to concern resolution, I observed the maintenance technicians perform an exercise of thoughtless free will; it was aimless, structureless, and without purpose; it was a total and utter disregard for the dignity that should be the embodiment of their craft.  It was a boorish exercise in “part swapping”.  Unfortunately, this scene has become commonplace in today’s manufacturing environment.  Maintenance technicians ill prepared and poorly motivated are tasked with the maintenance of highly complex machinery.  Previous generations of workers were more experienced, better prepared, and more suited to their roles.  Factors that contributed to this worker condition were: tenure in a position, company loyalty, and a decrease in company training opportunities, such as apprenticeships. With longevity, there’s better familiarity and acquaintance with equipment and processes (more time to understand the intricacies of its mechanisms), there’s a vested interest in the performance of the company (and consequently in their individual contribution to its success), and there’s a defined career progression.  Currently, workers change jobs at a rate that makes it difficult to learn the equipment, difficult to develop an emotional attachment to the company, and consequently, the unwillingness of an employer to train and develop. Companies fear that workers will leave for better paying jobs.  In lieu of apprenticeship programs, companies are opting for university sponsorship programs that often binds the employee to the company after graduation.  There have been recent efforts to promote apprentice programs through federal and state agencies.  Although, this third-party component is helpful, it still lacks the effectiveness of traditional apprentice programs that often aligned with organizational initiatives and that emphasized relevancy to ensure that the learners are engaged. Unless a new approach can be implemented with a wide appeal, it will become increasingly more difficult to maintain and sustain equipment and processes.

What are your thoughts on the State of Automation?

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The Future of Automation

I found this interesting video on the future of automation.

Video by PTC Creo, go to http://www.ptc.com/product/creo
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