From the desk of Randy Wolken…
President & CEO

Weekly thoughts and insights from MACNY’s President & CEO, Randy Wolken, designed to inspire and provoke thought among leaders within MACNY’s membership.

GE broke ground on August 26th for its latest “brilliant factory.” GE’s factory is scheduled to be completed in 20 months and will make massive gas engines and other components for GE businesses with the assistance of 220 highly skilled workers. It will be located just across the Canadian border from Buffalo, New York. A ” brilliant factory ” is GE’s new take on a manufacturing plant. It will involve machines that are embedded with sensors and connected to the industrial internet. What is most interesting is the divide between what was the lab and the factory will disappear and allow for faster prototyping and commercialization of parts. GE is in the forefront of developing new ways to use data and analytics to transform factories into places that are constantly improving their operations and output.

This development is remarkable in that it drew so little attention. Every day new factories are being built that will use the highest skilled labor in the most technological plants taking full advantage of the industrial internet. As a result, factories of the future will no longer need to be located where labor is cheap, but can thrive where educated workers can make the most out of advanced technology. The question is not “if” these facilities are the future (they are), the question is “are we ready for them?” And, I contend we are not.

What is needed to run these types of facilities are the skilled workers of the future. And, our schools and training approaches are not yet providing nearly enough of these kinds of employees. Therefore, employers that can create a “career pathway” into their companies and straight to their door will get the skilled workers of tomorrow – and will succeed in the great race created by the industrial internet.

So what can a company do to be ready for the industrial internet? First, internally create pathways to build your own skilled labor force starting with upgrading everyone’s skills and starting apprenticeship pathways for those mission-critical staff. Second, help your community create excitement and career awareness for these types of pathways early in the education cycle. Finally, continue to educate yourself on the industrial internet and what it will mean in your industry. It is coming much faster than you might imagine to your facility – and your competitor’s facility.

To find out how you can better prepare your workforce for the coming wave of smart factories using the industrial internet, please contact me at [email protected] . Together we can prepare for this critical development within global manufacturing.