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64 SMT007 MAGAZINE I DECEMBER 2020 many that propose such pioneering digital technologies represent a risky path and that so-called experts are simply trying to make their bad business work. For sure, unless you have the skills in-house to know what tech- nologies and solutions are out there—which work and which do not and how they spe- cifically relate to the needs of production— it is very easy to make a mistake and go with a company name that "you will never get fired for choosing" only to find your- self locked into a solution that is isolated from the rest of the industry, including from machines themselves that you depend on. Trust needs to be built between incumbent senior management and the new profile of manufacturing engineers, managers, and operators. Successfully addressing new chal- lenges always works best with an open mind. The reality is that with these new skills in new roles comes the need for training and experi- ence in manufacturing itself. The incumbent skills are at least as important as the new ones. The successful companies will be those that create the right balance of hybrid sets of skills, manufacturing, and digital technology formed by communication, trust, and mutual respect. This is not politics, after all. SMT007 Michael Ford is the senior director of emerging industry strategy for Aegis Software. To read past columns or contact Ford, click here. nology changes, but the volunteer compa- nies behind these open industry standards are clearly setting the pace, providing an unprec- edented opportunity for factory visibility, con- trol, optimization, and quality, as well as fur- ther automation opportunity. What is really needed now in manufacturing are people with the skills to understand the use of data in man- ufacturing, the difference and consequence of selecting technologies, and how to bring about changes and manage manufacturing based on what the data shows. It is quite fortunate that skills and experience in computing are growing, but manufacturing is not the most famous or attractive place to which people with those skills are attracted. But this is something that needs to change, as this is the way in which factories will differ- entiate themselves within the industry against their peers. The whole approach to recruit- ment and role definition needs to change to take advantage of technologies that are now available. We all now need to market manu- facturing careers in context with this new digi- tal age and be less concerned about the loss of past dependencies. There is still one final challenge, however. The momentum with legacy practices within manufacturing remains strong. As manufac- turing has been slow to have easy access to good data, managers within manufacturing and the supply chain have become introspec- tive, with the whole of their professional world contained within the four walls of the factory, believing—with very decreasing merit—that

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