The future of manufacturing in North America is high-tech, and that means there’s a widening gap between the skills workers have and the skills that companies need. High-tech factories require skilled workers who can operate, control, and repair robotics that have been installed for automated manufacturing.
Metrology is only one piece of the skills gap shortage, but it is just as crucial as any other, requiring both machine operators and programmers and sometimes even fluency in multiple programming languages (though you can always do yourself a favor by making sure all of your coordinate measuring machines run on a single software like PC-DMIS). Experts on the skills gap such as on Industry Week suggest that North American shops need to bring back more apprentice-type training in mechanical ability (assembly, drilling, welding), knowledge of hydraulics and pneumatics, an understanding of troubleshooting methods, machine programming, an understanding of drives, ether net, and device net, and computer literacy. All of these skills are critical to continuing the automation of plants that give manufacturers in more advanced economies a competitive edge over cheap labor countries. While this apprentice type training may require a culture shift in the manufacturing sector, your company can start by looking into new ways of training metrology operators and programmers.
One training investment you can make is in PC-DMIS E-Learning courses that bring this specialized form of education into your shop, so that you’re not stuck short-handed while you train a new programmer or operator for your coordinate measuring machine. Metrology dealer Canadian Measurement Metrology (CMM) has created a number of E-Learning programs covering PC-DMIS, one of the most popular coordinate measuring machine software programs available today. They offer E-Learning courses in PC-DMIS Portable (for programming portable arms) and PC-DMIS CAD & CAD++ Levels 1 & 2. E-Learning courses are comprised of training videos and tests, as well as a reference library for quick-and-easy access to information as it comes up.
In addition to PC-DMIS, you can also purchase CMM’s E-Learning course on the Renishaw Equator, a shop-floor ready comparative gauging machine that runs on the program MODUS. The Equator is an affordable way to measure components against a reference, but you need personnel who know how to operate it and understand measurement, alignment, and reporting to use it effectively.
E-Learning packages help you cross-train personnel, train operators without becoming short-staffed for days, and access resources after training. You will save on travel and accommodation costs associated with sending employees away for off-site training. It’s an effective way to enjoy the benefits of a better-educated workforce, such as increase throughput, fewer errors, and faster, more reliable troubleshooting. However, given the complexity of some metrology tasks, it may be more cost effective to outsource to a contract metrology firm like CMM. Outsourcing options may involve shipping your components to a metrology firm, or bringing expert metrologists in to either use your equipment or do measurements with a portable arm. Metrology firms can also be consulted when you have an error on your production line that you just can’t identify. From training to outsourcing, a metrology firm can be your best friend when you have a problem with your QA department.