Hiring to Meet Your Automation Needs
You want to hire the right people to handle your automation needs. Who do you turn to?
Gripping capabilities, advanced sensors, and automated palletizing are examples of how industrial automation is a constantly developing field. Men and women with the right skills are sought to work with robotics manufacturers, integrators, and the companies who purchase and use the equipment.
Let's look at the capabilities of today's graduates, what they're learning, and how that gets used in the workforce. Get up to speed on what you should be looking for when hiring.
The Talent Chain
It's not enough to simply know about robots. Industrial automation synchronizes a range of components like sensors, cameras, and motors into a single piece of equipment that is operated using the latest software.
Just like manufacturers purchase from a supply chain, the talent to create and operate automated systems is linked together. Different disciplines must converge as a team to manufacture a robot.
Designers, software developers, and engineers tackle topics like inertia mismatch so a machine can be programmed to start and stop as smoothly as possible. The topic was covered in this previous A3 Automate blog post, Why You Want to Know about Inertia Mismatch.
When the robot is ready for the marketplace, an integrator has to understand the unique demands of companies who want to purchase the robot or related equipment. The buying company, or end user, then needs to have employees who know how to operate the robot and possibly work on it if a problem occurs.
This is an exciting time in technology, enabling companies to work leaner and more profitably and challenging a new generation of employees to gain new skills. Workers with specializations and those with general knowledge are trained differently and contribute to this exciting technological era depending on their education.
Tackling Unsolved Challenges
Unsolved challenges require a unique skill set. There's a principle in play: know the needs.
As noted in the article, Closing the Skills Gap in Automation: A Call for Action, a PhD-level candidate isn't needed in an environment where automation is used to do basic case packing. That's been done before.
Matt Wicks, Vice President of Product Development, Manufacturing Systems of Intelligrated, an integrator with headquarters in Mason, Ohio, said in the write up that “robotics in warehousing and distribution is relatively new and some of the challenges in that space are unsolved, and so the skill sets involved are greater than what we would necessarily require to iterate on a known solved problem.”
University degrees at the graduate and post-graduate levels offer students a chance to study theories and use those to develop new solutions.
Georgia Tech is an example of a university expanding its own studies. The Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines officially launched in 2013. Faculty and students are setting out on paths of discovery to bring robotics into all parts of society.
There are various concentrations of study including Human-robot interaction that teach "building systems that are cognitively compatible with human partners, mechanical systems that account for human capabilities, and control systems that model interactions with humans."
Complete program descriptions are available on the Institute's website.
While university campuses research new frontiers, small to medium-size companies can look to their own communities to see the mission-critical skills available.
Training Skill Specific Workers
Don't expect technological growth to come primarily out of the universities. The executive director of Georgia Tech's institute made what seems like a surprising statement.
“It’s going to come out of the community colleges," said Henrik Christensen quoted in Closing the Skills Gap. "I see the general shift going from unskilled labor to operators on the line that must have some minimum degree of education, but they don’t need a four-year college education.”
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