Bosch Rexroth advises a limited training budget is a major barrier to competitiveness, directly impacting profitability.

A survey commissioned by the leading drive and control specialist highlights the correlation between training adoption and budget, and the impact this is having on implementation of Industry 4.0.

The report titled ‘Tackling the training gap in UK manufacturing’ discovers that forty three percent of engineers identify budget constraints as one of the key barriers to adopting a more rigorous training plan. While over half of respondents anticipate training budgets will stagnate in their organisation over the next five years.

In the UK, ‘automation’ is an area which is dramatically increasing, however productivity – measured both by output per worker and per hour worked – is significantly lower against the UK’s major trading partners in Europe and the US. For this reason, it is worrying to discover that automated production processes and modern automation techniques were identified in the report as the areas where the greatest gaps in knowledge exist.

The study also revealed that, in as many as a quarter of companies, less than 10 hours of training is delivered to employees each year on average.

“As the UK manufacturing sector borders on the cusp of Industry 4.0 with increased automation, businesses must update their approach to training,” commented Richard Chamberlain, service product manager at Bosch Rexroth. “We must upskill the workforce and empower engineers with the skills they need to use Industry 4.0 technologies, whilst offering continuous development opportunities to individuals is vital.

“At face value, the survey shows that the majority of organisations are committed to training, with only a tiny proportion (two per cent) of organisations admit to providing no training at all. However, it appears, in many instances, to be piecemeal and an activity which is squeezed in around day-to-day operational requirements. Rather than being seen as a core value-adding function which requires strategic investment of time, resources and of course, budget.

“What is also clear is that there was no widespread optimism around a greater commitment to, and role for, training in the next five years.

“We are constantly reminded that Industry 4.0 will transform manufacturing for the better – with the promise of improving efficiency and productivity. Yet if our engineers are unprepared for the introduction of new automated technologies this will inevitably stall the progression towards Industry 4.0. Therefore in order to remain competitive training should be one of the first priorities in order to help employees adapt to meet the rapidly changing manufacturing processes.”