Three Key Areas Where IIoT Automation is Elevating Manufacturing Jobs

February 2, 2018

There are mixed reactions about advanced technology applications in labor scenarios. “Robots stealing jobs” is the boogeyman of manufacturing workers’ concerns. Since the 1980s, people have been studying how changing technology will affect young workers, worrying it will make them and their jobs obsolete.

However, as we near closer to 2040 than 1990, some of those fears can be laid to rest with recent digital transformations. Contemporary innovations have grown increasingly complex and with them, increasingly complex jobs that cannot be done with AI or other automated tools.

According to a Manpower study conducted on 18 thousand employers over 40 countries, 83% of manufacturers anticipate maintaining or increasing employee numbers. According to the Institute for the Future, the increased headcount will be for jobs that don’t even exist yet, made possible by the IIoT revolution and other cloud-computing innovations, such as digital twins.

The necessary skills to operate cutting-edge facilities will elevate traditional positions to more lucrative opportunities. Manufacturing, automation, public services and security are all fields that will have roles with advanced responsibilities and skills. These “smart jobs” will occur at all stages: in development, operations and maintenance.

New educator roles will also crop up as workforce development will be needed to fulfill the requirements demanded. It is estimated that there will be a skill gap until apprenticeships and technical schools can provide the appropriate readiness to students. Until then, manufacturers are targeting specific demographics, such as veterans, to bridge the gap immediately through in-house training.

IIoT Development Jobs

Of the new roles, these already attract resumes. IIoT developers come from coding schools, computer science and engineering degree programs, hobbyists and self-taught developers. These are individuals who can successfully engineer boards for IoT communications and operations as well as code software for IIoT applications.

IIoT developers may be from technology corporations or they may be in-house designers making proprietary products for specific manufacturing needs. Regardless of who employs them, they are essential to the IIoT operations of the future.

IIoT Operations Jobs

The roles and positions in operations will marry hands-on labor with computing knowledge, technical skills, communications and analytics skills. These individuals could attain experience through short term technical schools and apprenticeships, with either a general knowledge of IIoT systems or specific knowledge of the machines. Potential job titles will change as well:

  1. Smart Machine Operator — programs and supervises smart machine
  2. Data Capture and Analysis Assistant — surveys data capture from IoT devices and compiles reports of analysis conducted automatically.
  3. Network Specialist — an IT role, this individual will monitor the networks between assets to ensure data is being shared securely and accurately
  4. Smart Line Team Member — a human member of the manufacturing team that works with machines to finalize a product
  5. Smart Warehouse Supervisor — a lead manager who is responsible for smart machine installation, has a keen understanding of the technology behind the machines and keeps the intelligent system running

Individuals holding these jobs will be key to keeping IoT automated operations running smoothly and without risk. They will be essential to solving the more complex problems facing manufacturing supply chains and production lines that machines cannot solve.

IIoT Maintenance and Cybersecurity Jobs

There will also be an enormous need for employees with general knowledge of IoT networks and circuitry to conduct maintenance and preserve security. These individuals will be skilled mechanics, electrical, mechanical and computer engineers or computer scientists. Their education will be much like auto mechanics, with apprenticeships and laboratory experience.

Their responsibilities will include configuring digital twin programs, keeping data and networks secure from hacking or misuse, and keeping up the physical integrity of the devices. When a smart asset reports errors to its operator, a “smart electronics mechanic” will be on-site to immediately diagnose and repair the issue. Without the immediacy of maintenance, all the benefits of automation — real time data analysis, response programming and consistency — will be nullified.

IIoT has already begun to transform cities and home networks. As it makes its way deeper into manufacturing and other industries, employers must be ready for the hiring flood that will be necessary to fulfill these new roles. Manufacturing company destinations will have to invest in STEAM education, technical skills and IIoT readiness to have a workforce that can take advantage of the lucrative — and exciting — transformation happening.