Amid the current manufacturing landscape, business leaders are zeroing in on the fact that the implementation of robotic automation can help achieve productivity gains and corporate growth. Equally important to this success is the ability to cultivate a strong human workforce. One of several ways manufacturers can do this is by providing robot training to current employees. If you’re not convinced that taking this step is a good idea, remember that robot training can help:
Facilitate Consistent Part Flow
Whether a robotic system operates one day a week, seven days a week or somewhere in between, the anticipated result is usually a more systematic and timely process that allows fluid movement of parts with high-speed precision. To achieve this kind of optimal system uptime, most manufacturers send designated robot operators to an IACET-accredited training facility – as there are critical variables that should be well understood to accurately program and care for a robot.
Create a Safer Work Environment
Often linked to manufacturing efficiency, workplace safety is another aspect of production that can be affected by robot training. Robotic instruction at an accredited training location with hands-on instruction in application-specific classrooms is an ideal way to learn robot safety basics.
Robot suppliers, like Yaskawa, go a step further, providing advanced classes for task-specific applications, like welding, as well as maintenance courses. This allows robot operators to learn best practices for a variety of situations. Companies looking to train a group of workers for a unique process may consider convenient on-site training, where employees can learn on the exact equipment used during production.
To ensure the utmost safety when performing DIY maintenance in-house, manufacturers may also benefit from supplemental training for troubleshooting and repair through user-friendly solutions like RobotPro. Comprehensive, cost-effective tools like this provide robot operators with step-by-step instructions, providing greater safety and efficiency.
Achieve Faster ROI
Company leaders looking to reduce downtime during robotic implementation can benefit from sending employees to training before the robot is installed. Having employees knowledgeable about robot operation and programming on day one helps to create a smooth transition, enabling greater robot uptime for faster return on investment (ROI).
Enable Continuous Improvement
While robots are built to last, having solid robotic training – especially for maintenance – provides valuable knowledge where robot rebuilds, upgrades and repairs are concerned. Empowering employees in this way helps them to perform consistent, accurate life cycle management to extend the life of the robot, ensuring it will continue to reliably perform.
Moreover, a plethora of knowledge can be gained by performing regular robot maintenance. Well-trained employees should be able to take this information and carefully analyze it, responding to issues in an appropriate and timely manner.
Builds a Foundation for Using Innovative Tools
With continuous improvement in mind, company leaders are also implementing user-friendly device management platforms, like Yaskawa Cockpit™. Innovative software tools like this help to easily monitor, accumulate and visually deliver data in real time for all connected devices (including robots and their peripherals) in a production environment. This allows for data-driven optimized planning for preventative and predictive maintenance for optimal life cycle management. Thorough knowledge on robotic automation, robot programming and maintenance helps bolster the decision-making process when the data harvested from platforms like this is ready to be applied.
Upskill for Competitive Edge
As technological advancements continue to permeate the industrial landscape – increasing application capability along the way – there will continue to be a dichotomy between existing worker skillsets and the knowledge needed to perform different job responsibilities with innovative technologies. This fact, along with the on-going worker shortage, is exactly why business leaders should invest in valuable resources for retraining current workers. Not only does this foster the digital skills required to stay relevant in highly competitive markets, but also, it creates a talent pipeline capable of filling the void when skilled workers are scarce.
Something to keep in mind is the concept of training a “workcell champion”. The person selected for this position should be a self-motivated employee fully dedicated and accountable for all factory robots and their deliverables. This valuable team member would garner support from necessary co-workers to help manage implementation, optimize programming, perform maintenance, etc. Manufacturers with an experienced, well-trained workcell champion typically reach production goals in less time for faster ROI.
As technology changes and permeates the factory floor, it is imperative for manufacturers to invest in valuable resources to upskill workers. While adding robotic automation can be key to solving production challenges, it is usually only part of the equation. Business leaders need to have a strategic plan for robotic automation.
Where employees are concerned, things like intentional communication and employee inclusion should be considered. Moreover, collaboration with human resources to create strategies for training, retaining and incentivizing workers (where needed) should also be part of the plan. Adding new technologies to any workplace can be overwhelming for some, and it is important to maintain employee morale to reach the end goal.
What Should you Look for in a Robot Training Facility?
All robot training is not created equally. There are certain criteria that should be considered when looking for the best place to educate robot operators. To learn more about these factors and to get a sneak peak of Yaskawa Academy, register for our upcoming webinar.
Steve Holland is a Senior Manager, Technical Education