Sify Plainspeak: SME Interviews with Ed Lugo of ARG and Indresh Chauhan of Sify, Part 3
Part 3 (Continued)
Indresh: Given the fact that you’ve been involved with manufacturing for so long, if you look at your most recent experiences on how the workforce is trained and knowledge is disseminated, what do you think has changed and what has remained the same?
Ed: After the advent of PowerPoint, I don’t think much has changed. Probably for the last 20 to 25 years, we’ve been consistent with having 2D data to describe a machine information, faults, methodologies. That information needs to be extracted, read, interpreted, and then acted upon by an operator. It’s almost like a “he said/she said” because each piece of data is to be interpreted by the individual operator, some having more mechanical prowess than others. Therefore, you may have the exact same information that they’re pulling from but two totally different responses.
Indresh: So, in addition to the mechanical knowledge, information, and dexterity, you also need a decision-making skillset to decide the right thing to do in each situation.
Ed: Again, that goes back to the ability to experiment. You need to understand what has worked in the past. You need to understand what the probability is that the actions that have worked in the past will also fix the current problem. Such information and knowhow are gathered over time, but time is what the manufacturers of today do not have enough of. We must come up with some way to mitigate the effects of a 2D paper methodology that’s currently employed by most manufacturing shops and machine vendors to solve problems.
Indresh: What if we continue the way that manufacturing has always continued with respect to knowledge dissemination, training, learning? What do you think would happen?
Ed: I think maybe we would make it at most, five years. After five years, we would be very hard pressed to keep and retain important employees. The iGen, or Gen Z as they’re referred to, that are coming up behind the millennials are completely connected, also known as the LinkedIn society. They are accessing data 24/7. A majority of the information that they need to be successful or to be proactive, they pull from online sources. In that sense, we are at a loss or coming to a point of diminishing returns.
Indresh: What does that mean for the manufacturing organizations and for their customers?
Ed: As these programs get squeezed ever tighter because automated machines or automated processes provide more and more ability to extract/remove humans from them and to speed up a process, they’re going to lose the capability of positively affecting cost, schedule, performance because they do not provide the tools necessary for that generation to be successful.
Indresh: So, what you’re saying is that the decision-making capabilities a machine does not have inherently, but which only rests with a human, is something that will start to erode over time because people may not be able to understand and develop that wisdom that is required to make the right decisions. This is because most companies are still imparting information and training in the old ways, but the younger workforce is not attuned to these methods of learning. There’s a divergence between what is being taught and how people like to learn. That divergence results in this dichotomy you just spoke about.
Ed: I’d like to add that whenever a machine is purchased, or a process is automated, the expectation is that you’ll press a button and things will happen miraculously without any human interaction. The fact of the matter is that’s a fallacy. There will always be human interactions associated with automated processes, especially more complex processes. Therefore, we need to do whatever we can to ensure the success of the operators, technicians, and engineers into the years ahead and beyond.
Indresh: It seems like it’s a pretty dire situation. Do you think there is a way out of this?
Ed: I do. I think that there are two major pieces to the solution. First, we need to develop content that is required to allow a new operator, technician, or engineer to access information and use it towards a positive end. The second piece is to set up the infrastructure required to support and to ensure the integrity of data that is disseminated out, and that ensures that intellectual property is controlled, and that competitive advantage is maintained by a manufacturer.
Indresh: Right. I think what you’re saying is that the competitive advantage for a manufacturing organization is going to come not so much from the machines because any organization can purchase a machine and set it up, but it will come from the ability and the brainpower of the person who is operating that machine in terms of how do they make a decision, how do they troubleshoot, how do they make sense of the data that is coming out of the machine to make the right decisions.
Ed: Yes. To maximize efficiency.
Indresh: Efficiency, right. That would help their company, their customers, as well as themselves.
Indresh: Thanks so much, Ed.
Ed’s Bio: Ed Lugo is an Executive Advisor for Alliance Resource Group Inc. – ARG. Prior to joining ARG; Ed was Integrated Product Team Leader for Northrop Grumman Corporation based in El Segundo, California. In this role, he was responsible for the integration of automated solutions supporting the manufacture and assembly of aerospace structures, and the executive interface on critical business activities supporting strategic direction. He previously served as Tooling Representative to the Systems Engineering Integration Team, SEIT, on the Joint Strike Fighter program where he supported new software integration, training, process improvement and sustainment. Mr. Lugo served as Co-Principle Investigator for the National Science Foundation Grant supporting next generation aerospace workers. He has instructed courses in engineering processes for UCLA Ext and ECC, and served as an advisor for SME Tooling University. Ed is an alumnus of Pepperdine University where he completed his bachelor’s degree in Business Management. Afterwards, he pursued further education at National University for his MBA.
Visit ARG’s website to know more: http://www.allianceresourcegroup.net