By: Godfrey Team
Bob Vavra, senior content director of Machine Design and Hydraulics & Pneumatics, talks with us about the impact of trends like Industry 4.0, workforce challenges and sustainability.
From hiring challenges to digital adoption, manufacturers must navigate numerous challenges. Bob Vavra, senior content director of Machine Design and Hydraulics & Pneumatics, shares how some of these top trends are impacting industrial manufacturing. Read what Bob had to say:
Because of COVID, a lot of the digital transformation has occurred more quickly than it might have under normal circumstances. That said, there still isn’t enough widespread adoption of digital solutions. Some of that is budget-driven, some is talent-driven and some is a reluctance to change. Regardless, other countries and economies are embracing change and adopting digital manufacturing. The need is there for strong use cases to explain the value of digital transformation as an economic imperative, as a jobs preserver and as a competitive advantage in a global, competitive manufacturing landscape.
The key is to automate and use other technologies, such as robotics, where it makes sense and free the human worker for higher value and a more analytic approach to process improvements. Data and artificial intelligence can only point the way toward potential solutions; the human decisions are the ones that will most directly affect outcomes, and they still have great value.
I view this as three related issues: recruitment, training and retention. If you focus on recruiting, you get someone a job. If you focus on training, skills development and a sense that there is room for growth, you help someone build a sustainable career. We need more people as a whole, but we need more people who are ready to embrace the challenge of modern manufacturing — and finding those people will require a different conversation than a “Help Wanted” sign.
Moving to a true adoption of Industry 4.0 — a real new generation of manufacturing and of manufacturers. It can be assisted by governments in many ways, but I think these are business imperatives, and more manufacturing leaders need to seize the opportunity.
A global, interdependent and interconnected design and manufacturing infrastructure that allows a company to design, manufacture and deliver products anywhere in the world with local hubs of manufacturing.
Sustainability has to be profitable, or at least cost-neutral, for manufacturers to fully embrace it. Most manufacturers understand the larger issues of sustainability but worry about the increased cost, which can only be passed along to the end users of their products. I like to talk about energy and safety as profit centers rather than cost centers, and I think viewing energy as a cost that can be managed rather than a bill that needs to be paid goes a long way to greater understanding of the true costs and benefits of sustainability.
I think the silos are coming down within manufacturing, however slowly. The idea of an interconnected process of product design and manufacturing is really important. The more we write about integrating design and operations as a connected process, the closer we get to that ideal.
The coolest thing I’ve ever done was appear on “Jeopardy!” about 20 years ago. It was the culmination of a lifelong dream, and I had to completely realign my life goals after that. Fortunately, I met my wife about six months after appearing on the show, so she’s been a huge help in realigning my life goals. We’ve been able to travel the world together, and that changes your perspective on a lot of things.
My background in media, including the last 20 years covering safety and plant operations, has given me a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities in this sector. My role is to provide clear and useful knowledge across multiple content platforms and ensure our readers have the knowledge they need to develop new solutions.
• I’ve been covering the manufacturing sector for almost 20 years now;
• I’ve been in content delivery long enough to remember when we used to call it “editorial” — but not long enough that I knew Gutenberg personally;
• I play a reasonable game of golf, and you definitely want me on your trivia team;
• My wife and I love to travel, and we’ve been all over the world, which is odd because every time I fly is an act of faith;
• My title is pronounced CON-tent manager, but it just as easily could be pronounced con-TENT manager.
Thank you, Bob, for sharing your expertise!
To read more about trends in manufacturing, check out 5 Industrial Manufacturing Trends Impacting Your Operations from our Director of Strategy, Alison Fetterman.
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