For several years, the manufacturing industry has struggled to attract new, diverse, and skilled talent, especially recent graduates. This is partly due to the misperception that manufacturing is an outdated industry.
However, the truth is that digitalization has broadly and dramatically changed the way parts and goods are assembled and produced. In fact, modern, advanced manufacturing relies heavily on digital technologies such as 3D printing, machine learning, and robotics.
This misalignment between public perception and the reality of the industry contributes to a widening skills gap, creating problems like lower productivity, higher costs, and issues with quality control.
With 63% of manufacturers believing that young people are not coming through the education and skills system with the necessary advanced manufacturing skills, and Deloiite predicting 2.1 million unfilled jobs by 2030, there is an apparent need to make manufacturing a more exciting and innovative career path for everyone.
To achieve this, we need to work together to change perceptions. We need to team up with schools and businesses, and invest in dynamic and immersive training.
The term “advanced manufacturing” refers to the utilisation of innovative and cutting-edge technologies within the manufacturing industry to enhance and optimise various aspects of the production process.
This approach involves the integration of state-of-the-art methods, tools, and technologies to achieve higher efficiency, precision, and productivity in manufacturing operations.
Unlike traditional manufacturing methods, advanced manufacturing techniques leverage digitalization, automation, and advanced materials to revolutionize the way products are designed, produced, and assembled.
Advanced manufacturing relies heavily on digital technologies such as computer-aided design (CAD), computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), and other software solutions. These tools enable precise modeling, simulation, and analysis of products and processes.
Incorporating automated systems and robotics into manufacturing processes streamlines production, enhances precision, and reduces the need for manual labor. Robotics is utilised for tasks ranging from repetitive assembly to complex operations.
This revolutionary technique involves building three-dimensional objects layer by layer using digital models. It offers unparalleled design flexibility, reduced material waste, and the ability to create complex structures that traditional manufacturing methods might find challenging.
Algorithms and statistical models are employed to enable machines to learn and optimise their performance without explicit programming. This facilitates predictive maintenance, quality control, and process optimisation.
Utilising sensors and data analytics in real-time allows manufacturers to make informed decisions promptly. This leads to optimized production processes, improved quality control, and enhanced overall efficiency.
Connecting devices and systems in the manufacturing environment enables seamless communication and data exchange. IoT applications contribute to predictive maintenance, supply chain optimization, and improved resource management.
Overlaying digital information onto the physical world enhances workers’ capabilities by providing real-time data, instructions, and visual aids during the manufacturing process.
The development and utilisation of cutting-edge materials with enhanced properties, durability, and functionality. These materials contribute to the creation of more robust and efficient products.
The use of advanced tools and techniques for precise shaping and manufacturing of components, ensuring high-quality and accurate final products.
Advanced manufacturing techniques represent a holistic and transformative approach that leverages the latest technologies to drive innovation, improve efficiency, and address the evolving demands of modern manufacturing.
Operating within the manufacturing environment, an advanced manufacturing engineer plays a pivotal role. Responsibilities include coordinating and managing manufacturing processes, implementing product quality standards, and continually evaluating and improving methods for maximum efficiency. Essential skills for this role include problem-solving, leadership, and proficiency in software packages like computer-aided design (CAD).
Distinguishing between advanced manufacturing and smart manufacturing is crucial for understanding the industry’s evolution. While advanced manufacturing focuses on innovative technologies to enhance products and processes, smart manufacturing integrates data and technology to optimize the entire manufacturing process.
The immersive learning method is an approach to teaching that actively involves learners in a simulated or enhanced environment. In the context of advanced manufacturing, this method utilizes virtual reality and/or augmented reality technologies to create lifelike scenarios where learners engage with and practice real-world manufacturing processes.
Virtul Reality (VR) learning offers a unique and effective approach to skill development. By simulating real-world environments, learners can acquire the hands-on experience necessary for success in advanced manufacturing. This method not only bridges the skills gap but also revolutionizes the way individuals engage with and master complex manufacturing techniques.
The skills shortage in advanced manufacturing poses significant threats to the industry. Manufacturers facing increased operational costs and reduced productivity may struggle to compete and grow. To address this issue, collaborative action across government, education, and business is crucial.
Urgent attention is needed to fix the skills gap, requiring businesses to focus on training and upskilling current workers. Initiatives to inspire the next generation and encourage them to explore STEM skills will be key. Mentorship, apprenticeship, and immersive training programs can ensure the transfer of expert skills from experienced workers to the next generation.
Metaverse Learning’s Advanced Manufacturing Consortium provides a promising solution to the challenges faced by the industry. By embracing immersive learning and collaborative efforts, we can propel advanced manufacturing into the future and make virtual learning an indispensable tool for every engineer’s toolbox.
Learn more about our new Advanced Manufacturing Consortium here.
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