Training for smart manufacturing talent starts from education. The comprehensive execution of industry-academic partnerships can help foster the next generation of smart manufacturing talent
Taiwan has established a powerful status in the manufacturing industry, resulting from an experienced workforce with skills and talents in traditional manufacturing technology. This strong foundation has consolidated Taiwan’s reputation in the industry to date.
However, traditional manufacturing technology has reached a pinnacle and it is now important to ask the question, how can we help it reach the next level? Globally, Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is evolving rapidly and as the world’s core supply chain hub, Taiwan needs to be more innovative in smart manufacturing.
Collaborations between companies and universities are critical drivers of the innovation economy. As such, Rockwell Automation Taiwan and Feng Chia University are co-developing smart manufacturing education to facilitate the next generation of students learn about digital transformation.
Feng Chia University (FCU) is a private research university in Taiwan, located in Taichung. FCU has had great success in industry-academia collaborations and has completed research and development on a number of commercial products, as well as actively encouraging faculty and students to set up their own businesses.
Next generation smart manufacturing
Smart manufacturing and industrial operations embrace a new way forward. This new direction is - IIoT enabled, highly connected devices and processes that can be continually monitored and optimized. This requires the use of new and disruptive technologies, from analytics and mobile to collaborative machines.
These technologies communicate with each other and adapt to internal and external conditions. Smart operations also require new strategies that make the most of these technologies to create flexible, efficient, responsive, and secure operations. Education is a key enabler to help manufacturers embrace these new technologies.
Charles Tam, general manager, Rockwell Automation, Taiwan, explained that there are many external challenges still facing the Taiwanese manufacturing industry. “In particular, there are still many companies limited by traditional manufacturing technologies. In addition, they tend to focus on cost efficiency or the concept of price competition.”
The challenge ahead is to help the next generation of Taiwanese manufacturing talent resolve these issues by embracing the latest smart technologies.
FCU’s innovative environment, together with the large number of OEMs in Taichung, makes it the best choice to facilitate the next generation of students to learn about digital transformation.
“The world is rapidly changing, and industry is seeking transition to new technologies. To address these needs, FCU cultivates its students so they can participate in the next stage of industrial upgrading and transition. We have co-developed smart manufacturing education with Rockwell Automation to enable innovative talent to be trained so they can participate in the upgrading and transition of society and industry,” explained Lee Bing-Jean, president, Feng Chia University.
Turning theory to practice
This innovative model provides the opportunity for students to combine lectures with ‘hands-on’ practice with the latest industrial automation equipment. FCU was previously lacking the latest knowledge of Industry 4.0 and smart manufacturing but now it can take advantage of the resources provided by Rockwell Automation. This allows students to learn on campus and directly enter the workplace in the future through a seamless transition into the industry.
FCU hires teachers from industry with more real-world experience allowing students to learn from their knowledge. There are benefits in various areas from PLC or robotic programming and operations or Industry 4.0, students can learn in so many areas.
“In fact, Feng Chia University is our first step. We would like to expand this technology to all of Taiwan because our vision is to become a leader in smart manufacturing technology – to ‘expand human possibility’. We are looking for students to join and work with us,” said Tam.
Furthermore, Rockwell Automation and FCU are also hoping to co-create an Applications Development Center within the university. This will focus on how to apply the digital transformation knowledge learned in school to various applications and industries. The ultimate goal will be to tackle industry challenges and help customers implement smart manufacturing.