The Future Factory: Generations of Manufacturing – Part 1

The last couple of weeks, we talked about the growing skills gap in Canada’s Tech sector. Today, we examine that skills gap and the way relates to manufacturing with the increased digitization of this industry.

Digitization, automation and transformation are impacting every industry, disrupting skills and creating new jobs. Manufacturing is the vanguard, with new roles appearing as fast as others become obsolete.

Manufacturers are reporting growing talent shortages as they struggle to find the right blend of technical and soft skills to fill new positions. The catalyst for the early stages of this skills shift was automation – machine strength. Now sector-wide transformation has been turbocharged by the Internet of Things, the digitally connected enterprise, the relentless expansion of data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to handle the scope of the challenge – machine thinking.

Digital Transformation: Generations Of Manufacturing

Manufacturing has undergone many transformations, from dirty, dark and dangerous to advanced, digital and connected. At Manpower, we have mapped four technical generations of manufacturing – Generations Zero to Three. Today we are on the cusp of the third generation, characterized by the transformational power of radical improvements in connected systems and machine learning. In 2020, we expect Generation Three to become mainstream as technology becomes more widely available, and machines become more intelligent, teaching and learning from each other.

Each generation is aligned to different eras of manufacturing tools, technologies and work.

Generation Zero refers to conventional manufacturing, spanning the first seven decades of the 20th century.

Generation One – the 35 years from 1970 to 2005 – was ushered in by new hardware and software systems that rapidly improved processes through automation.

Today we are the tail end of Generation Two – characterized by the transformational power of radical improvements in software. This has streamlined processes, using data far more effectively.

The next shift is to Generation Three. The rate of change is accelerating rapidly. It took nearly three-quarters of a century to move on from Gen Zero, yet the next shift was achieved in half that time. Gen Two began in 2005 and by 2020, we expect to be fully immersed in Gen Three.

Check in next week for Part 2 of our Manufacturing series on how digitization is impacting this industry’s workforce.

For more information on Manufacturing: The Future Factory and the digitization of this industry, read ManpowerGroups full report here:

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