Changes in Technical Maintenance Workforces- Skills
While there is plenty of available information addressing a gap in the technical skills available and those that are needed among technical maintenance workers in the workforce in light of robots, automation, and artificial intelligence, there was little information regarding specific technical skills. Employers now need employees that are technologically capable of programming machines to perform small tasks and to use their skills to advance workplace procedures and products. Articles, blogs, and reports were used to identify trends in the technical maintenance workforce while an examination of recent job postings for technical maintenance workers and case studies identified some specific skills that employers need that were not required in the past.
Modern skills that are required of technical maintenance workers revolve around digital competencies and include knowledge of advanced manufacturing technologies such as 3D printing, IoT, BigData, AI/VR, computer-aided design software, and Cloud-based technologies and applications.
- Maintenance and repair operations (MROs) are among the professions with the biggest workforce shortages as current workforce knowledge has not caught up to the necessary advanced digital expertise necessary for the "Industry 4.0 era", and there are few with adequate STEM education. Lifelong learning programs and training in digital technologies such as IoT, BigData, and AI, as well as development of academic partnerships should be offered to the existing workforce to increase their proficiencies.
- MRO job descriptions are changing to reflect new digital roles and skills associated with "smart" manufacturing driven by digital technologies and cyber-physcial systems. These roles include chief digital officer, digital engineers, VR/AR system specialists, worker experience designers, and digital maintenance engineer.
- Chief Digital Officers identify areas that need improvement and implement digital solutions while the Design Manufacturing Engineer designs and builds systems and processes using advanced manufacturing technologies such as 3D printing to increase accuracy and efficiency. Worker Experience Designers streamline interactions between workers and the machines or digital technologies such as inventory management apps, while the Digital Factory Automation Engineer helps employees by keeping systems up-to-date and make information about projects and processes accessible.
- Information technology security is a growing concern with the growth of IoT and employees need to have an understanding of industry codes and practices, functional knowledge of triaging, threat hunting and analysis, and incident management/escalation to protect their organizations from unauthorized access and attacks.
- AI requires employees be identify areas where machines can carry out tasks efficiently or using available data and the demand for developers is also growing and should use a mixture of tools and applicable certifications to stay up-to-date in the workforce.
- Cloud engineers develop solutions using in-house and external technologies to design, plan, manage, and support systems and the need for cloud engineers has increased. In addition to strong technical skills and working knowledge of new technologies tech employees need experience with AWS, Azure and/or Openstack, web services such as API, and knowledge of methodologies necessary for operating in the cloud for disaster recovery, failover, etc.
- According to Deloitte, the top five skills require employees to have the ability to adapt to new technologies in addition to understanding of computer technology and how to use it to design and manufacture products with computer-aided design software such as AutoCAD, and even being able to take on a robot teaming coordinator role to monitor the performance of automated technologies and ensure smooth interactions with human workers.
- Facility managers now need to be familiar with smart building platforms such as SmartCSM that integrate cloud technology with building infrastructure to facilitate the execution of their duties and alert them to potential issues to proactively troubleshoot and repair. They also need to be experienced with using data and analytics much more so than in the past.