Publikācijas

13.07.2017

Bridging the skills gap in automotive manufacturing

Bridging the skills gap in automotive manufacturing

Automotive manufacturers are currently facing a series of challenges. With increased pressure to meet customer demand for more personalised designs, they are tasked with creating a more flexible production environment, reducing engineering time and costs, and accelerating speed to market if they are to remain competitive.

In addition, like other industries, automotive is looking at a global skills shortage, in which too few engineers are sufficiently qualified to operate sophisticated automated machinery and equipment, or support the advancements available via emerging technologies.

In addition, like other industries, automotive is looking at a global skills shortage, in which too few engineers are sufficiently qualified to operate sophisticated automated machinery and equipment, or support the advancements available via emerging technologies.

In some cases, robots can carry out an engineer’s tasks; however, few factory floors can rely entirely on robots. Where robots or automated machines are utilised, skilled workers are still required to oversee operations and provide instructions to the robots.

To date, the Internet of Things (IoT) and machine-to-machine interfaces are not predicted to fully replace the hands-on benefit a skilled engineer delivers.

Skills shortage

A number of industry reports have identified a lack of qualified individuals with the required skillset for today’s technology-centric world.

For example, according to forecasts made in the 2017 Engineering UK, a British non-profit organization that promotes the development of engineering careers and skills: The State of Engineering report, 186,000 people with engineering skills are required each year from now until 2024 to meet manufacturing needs. Today, in 2017, the demand for engineering graduates currently outstrips supply; the report indicates an annual shortfall of at least 20,000. Reports such as this do not predict what impact the UK leaving the EU will have on the requirements of the manufacturing industry.

For example, according to forecasts made in the 2017 Engineering UK, a British non-profit organization that promotes the development of engineering careers and skills: The State of Engineering report, 186,000 people with engineering skills are required each year from now until 2024 to meet manufacturing needs. Today, in 2017, the demand for engineering graduates currently outstrips supply; the report indicates an annual shortfall of at least 20,000.

In the US, the situation is similar, as detailed in a report by an audit company Deloitte which projects that 3.5 million manufacturing roles will need to be filled by 2025, of which 2 million are predicted to be affected by a lack of skilled workers.

Reasons behind the shortages

While ‘skills shortage’ is an issue far wider than the automotive industry, reasons can be identified why this sector has a lack of skilled workers.

Qualified engineers, for example, frequently leave their areas of expertise to pursue what they believe to be a more lucrative career in a different field, such as finance. Those who do remain true to their specialism, however, may choose to work in an area outside of the automotive sector.

Smart factories are replacing more traditional production facilities, with advancements around newer processes such as 3D printing continually pushing the limits of conventional manufacturing. As a result, employees can spend more time using a computer rather than hands-on with “traditional” manufacturing equipment.

It appears that public perception hasn’t advanced at the same speed and technology has evolved, with some people imagining a career in manufacturing as it was one or two generations ago; with decent-paying jobs involving long assembly lines, manual labour and loud machinery. By way of illustration, a 2016 study in the US revealed that 71 percent of young people don’t see manufacturing as a high-tech career choice.

It appears that public perception hasn’t advanced at the same speed and technology has evolved, with some people imagining a career in manufacturing as it was one or two generations ago; with decent-paying jobs involving long assembly lines, manual labour and loud machinery. By way of illustration, a 2016 study in the US revealed that 71 percent of young people don’t see manufacturing as a high-tech career choice.

By dispelling such age-old misconceptions, and enlightening a new generation of employees what modern manufacturing really involves, we can begin to close the skills gap and inspire people to pursue high-tech and high-paying careers within the industry.

Technology is the answer

Companies today need people who can adapt to – and evolve with – ever changing technology. Whether automotive or otherwise, manufacturers have recognised the importance of creating a workforce of intelligent problem solvers. In addition to this, more manufacturers are now focusing on hiring and training talent that’s able to keep up with advancements—and drive investment—in technology.

If suitably qualified individuals aren’t available to employ then, in certain circumstances, automated software can provide an alternative solution. Technology-driven 3D printing, CAD/CAM/CAE solutions, CNC machining, and injection moulding technologies, for example, can assist in-house engineers and designers with product requirements and, by enabling digital manufacturing processes, reduce a project’s time to market.

Technological solutions, such as automation software that generates design for manufacturability analysis, can relieve the pressure on engineers by supporting the entire production process. Digital manufacturing technologies offer speeds that meet – and often surpass – customer demands, with parts produced on-demand within a matter of days.

Technological solutions, such as automation software that generates design for manufacturability analysis, can relieve the pressure on engineers by supporting the entire production process. Digital manufacturing technologies offer speeds that meet – and often surpass – customer demands, with parts produced on-demand within a matter of days.

While the automotive industry may be facing some challenges, digital manufacturing and technological progress are enabling automotive engineers to deliver products to market faster than ever before. This is easing the competitive pressure on car manufacturers, and going some way to fill the void left by the shortage of skilled engineers.

Commentary from Dreambird:

As mentioned above, today's manufacturing is in many ways related with the efficient integration and usage of automated CAD/CAM/CAE solutions that assist in development of NC-code programs for CNC machines and perform many other important functions, with the analysis tools and kinematic machining simulation being the most significant. The automotive industry can benefit the most from CAD/CAM/CAE solutions when it comes to metal cutting and fabrication processes.

The automotive sector companies all over the world have highly evaluated the automated solutions from Vero Software (Great Britain), which are specifically tailored to serve these processes - WorkNC and Edgecam. Both of these are used for successful manufacturing modernization and its efficiency increasing.

The multi-functional CAD/CAM solution for mill turn, multi-axis and EDM machining is perfect for solving the skills bridge problem which this article talks about, because it has a short learning curve and is easy to use, quickly adapting to its new functions and features in the future. Edgecam is that one software which is the most frequently chosen as a basis for CAD/CAM training courses in technical schools and universities - also due to its flexible pricing and licensing system.

The multi-functional CAD/CAM solution for mill turn, multi-axis and EDM machining is perfect for solving the skills bridge problem which this article talks about, because it has a short learning curve and is easy to use, quickly adapting to its new functions and features in the future. Edgecam is that one software which is the most frequently chosen as a basis for CAD/CAM training courses in technical schools and universities - also due to its flexible pricing and licensing system.

Training students to work with Edgecam gives them an experience and knowledge of a software which is used in the largest manufacturing companies worldwide. Today, Edgecam operates over 32 000 workstations in over 58 countries. Dreambird, an official distributor of Edgecam in Russia, CIS and Baltic countries, is now in the middle of discussion with several technical universities about implementing Edgecam in their training curricula.

Edgecam for Education offers a comprehensive suite of intelligent manufacturing solutions, incorporating a wide variety of operations from prismatic and surface milling to multi-axis, multi-turret turning. It covers all aspects of production machining and mold and die applications, all on a single platform. The flexibility of Edgecam for Education means it can adapt to the demands and requirements of individual programs and curricula.

We are ready to assist in organization of training facilities and creation of studying programs: provide free lectors training off-site or onsite, consult about purchasing suitable hardware and software and provide technical support by a certified support team during the license agreement.

Author: Stephen Dyson, head of Industry 4.0, Proto Labs
Materials taken from www.manufacturingglobal.com




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