Results For


Training Solution

Learning Categories

Current News Items

2021 News Items

2020 News Items

2019 News Items

2018 News Items

2017 News Items

2016 News Items

2015 News Items

2014 News Items

2013 News Items

2012 News Items

2011 News Items

2010 News Items

Smart Factory Enterprise: Next-Level Industry 4.0 Training

Smart Factory Enterprise Next-Level Industry 4.0 Training


Click HERE to view Smart Factory Enterprise: Next-Level Industry 4.0 Training as a multimedia presentation.

How prepared are your workers to interact effectively with the latest and greatest automated systems? Can your students confidently claim they have the skills they need to step into the Smart Factory jobs of the future?

For example, can your students and workers operate, maintain, troubleshoot, and repair factory-wide enterprise systems that combine Smart Factory systems with autonomous robots, smart conveyors, a wide variety of smart sensors, and integrated wired and wireless networks?

Most instructors would have to answer “no” to this question. That’s why Amatrol, a pioneer of Industry 4.0 training, created the Smart Factory Enterprise training system. To see this new system in action, check out the video below:

In this article, Amatrol will take a closer look at the impact of Industry 4.0 on the skills gap and why Industry 4.0 training is so critical for current students and workers. We will also highlight the development and features of the groundbreaking Smart Factory Enterprise training system and explain how it will enable students and workers to learn the hands-on Industry 4.0 skills they will need to succeed in a Smart Factory environment.

Industry 4.0 and the Skills Gap

Smart Factory Enterprise - Industry 4.0 and the Skills GapAt its core, Industry 4.0 is characterized by industries combining the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) with cyber-physical systems and advanced automation technologies to bring about huge gains in industrial efficiency and productivity.

Examples of the types of technology transforming industry include artificial intelligence, machine learning, advanced robotics, cognitive automation, big data analytics, and IIoT. To date, more than half of manufacturers have made investments in advanced automation technologies.

Indeed, early adopters of Industry 4.0 technologies are already reaping the benefits, and investments in these advanced technologies continue to grow at a rapid pace. However, the gains in productivity and efficiency they bring also create challenges that are not easily or quickly overcome.

All these new technologies require highly-skilled workers to operate, maintain, troubleshoot, and repair them, thereby “creating a mismatch between available workers and the skills necessary for open jobs,” according to Deloitte. This mismatch has been dubbed the “skills gap.”

Why Is There a Manufacturing Skills Gap?

Smart Factory Enterprise - Why Is There a Manufacturing Skills GapIt’s no secret that the manufacturing industry has battled an ongoing skills gap problem for years now. Why are there not enough skilled workers to fill open manufacturing positions? Experts have identified multiple contributing factors.

For example, the current manufacturing workforce is aging, and hundreds of thousands of skilled, experienced workers are nearing retirement age. As waves of Baby Boomers retire, their positions must be filled by new workers who unfortunately lack experience and, most of the time, the necessary skills to work as effectively as their retiring counterparts.

Adding to the problem is the fact that manufacturers are having a hard time attracting young millennials to manufacturing jobs. The industry as a whole suffers from a perception problem, with many potential young workers believing that manufacturing cannot offer them the things they want, such as challenging work, work/life balance, and good pay.

This is frustrating for manufacturers, because they are in the midst of the Industry 4.0 digital transformation of the factory floor, and they know what types of challenging, high-pay jobs they have to offer and need to fill. Unfortunately, the adoption of these new technologies has only served to worsen the skills gap problem, because so few current and potential workers have the advanced technology skills to step into the roles being created by Industry 4.0 technologies.

What Effect Has the Pandemic Had on the Skills Gap?

Smart Factory Enterprise - What Effect Has the Pandemic Had on the Skills GapIn recent years, the skills gap problem has been difficult to bridge in the face of record-low unemployment numbers. However, the COVID-19 pandemic upended the global economy in 2020, sending unemployment numbers through the roof.

We now find ourselves in the midst of a slow economic recovery. Has the skills gap problem eased in light of the disruption caused by the pandemic? Experts say no. A recent study by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute (“2021 Deloitte Skills Gap Study”) succinctly summarizes the current state of affairs:

“One of the top challenges manufacturers face today remains the skills gap in US manufacturing. In 2018, our headline was ‘The jobs are here, where are the people?’ That was in the context of historically low unemployment rates. Fast forward three years and, amid a global pandemic and the first US recession in more than a decade, it would appear the same headline stands.”

The study also notes that “[t]he manufacturing industry netted a loss of 578,000 jobs during the pandemic-challenged year 2020 — a figure that represents nearly six years of job gains, and yet, at any given moment in the past six months, nearly 500,000 jobs have remained open in manufacturing.”

A CNN Business article by Matt Egan echoes these findings:

“Demand for goods is skyrocketing as the US economy reopens from the pandemic. But…[e]ven though US manufacturing activity surged to a 37-year high in March [2021], the industry has more than half a million job openings. Factories are struggling to find skilled workers for specialized roles such as welders and machinists. Manufacturers are even having trouble hiring entry-level positions that do not require expertise.”

What Will Happen if We Don’t Bridge the Skills Gap?

Smart Factory Enterprise - What Will Happen if We Don't Bridge the Skills Gap


The skills gap is obviously a serious problem for manufacturers, but does it really impact the overall economy? The 2021 Deloitte Skills Gap Study clearly concludes that “[t]he economic impact of protracted job openings in manufacturing is significant.”

How significant? The study estimates that “US manufacturing is expected to have 2.1 million unfilled jobs by 2030.” That many unfilled jobs will have serious ripple effects throughout manufacturing and the economy as a whole.

For example, the study notes:

“The impact of not filling job openings and not having the right skill set in the workforce to respond to market demands can be felt in a number of ways for manufacturers. Almost eight in 10 manufacturing executives surveyed indicated that not filling jobs has a moderate to very high impact on maintaining production levels to satisfy growing customer demand, responding to new market opportunities, supporting new production development and innovation, and even implementing new technologies.”

And when manufacturing suffers, the overall economy suffers. According to the study, “manufacturing has the highest multiplier effect of any economic sector: for every US$1.00 spent in manufacturing, another US$2.74 is added to the economy. Using this multiplier, leaving the open jobs unfilled in manufacturing could bring a potential negative impact to the US economy of more than US$1 trillion by 2030 alone.”


Digital Transformation Requires a New Focus on Training

Smart Factory Enterprise - Digital Transformation Requires a New Focus on TrainingIn addition to the problems manufacturers have finding both entry-level and skilled workers for open positions, the 2021 Deloitte Skills Gap Study points out that “there is a third and larger challenge the industry faces over the next five to 10 years.”

“As digital transformation in the manufacturing industry continues to develop, the skills needed to do the jobs in the smart factory will likely be different than skills used today. But today’s manufacturing workforce doesn’t possess many of these skills.”

The pandemic has only spurred this process. As the study notes, “[d]igital transformation in the manufacturing industry continues its steady progress. Despite a year of historic disruption to work, workforce, and workplace, manufacturers have shared common experiences of accelerating digital adoption to help mitigate some of the pandemic-related disruptions in production environments.”

Of course, “[a]dding more…sources of automation could help maintain production, but it also puts pressure on a plant to upskill workers quickly to absorb the new technology.” This trend might worry some who fear humans are being replaced by robots, but the study gives reassurance:

“Despite an influx of more than 2.7 million industrial robots in use worldwide — including fixed robotic arms, moving cobots, and autonomous-guided vehicles moving materials and finished goods — humans are still needed to help produce the vast majority of goods the industry makes worldwide.”

The study suggests that manufacturers should “[l]everage advanced technologies…that can be used in training environments to upskill and reskill workers.” That’s why robust Industry 4.0 training is so important today.

Amatrol recognized years ago how Industry 4.0 was going to impact the advanced manufacturing facilities of the future. As the world’s leader in technical learning, Amatrol was uniquely positioned to lead the charge in developing advanced Industry 4.0 training systems.

Amatrol’s Smart Factory: The First Step

Smart Factory Enterprise - Smart Factory MechatronicsAmatrol pioneered Industry 4.0 training when it transformed its popular full-scale mechatronics line into a robust Smart Factory training system. Today, Amatrol’s Smart Factory system forms the backbone of the larger Enterprise system.

The linked mechatronics stations incorporate all major manufacturing technologies, including electrical, mechanical, hydraulics, and pneumatics. Together, the stations comprise a fully-automated manufacturing line that teaches essential processes, such as inventory control, inspection, sorting, assembly, torqueing, testing, CNC machining, and storage.

To transform this system into a true Smart Factory, Amatrol added a station for networking communications equipment, along with a variety of other connected technologies:

Smart Sensors

Smart sensors with I/O links provide flexible manufacturing, predictive maintenance, and data analytics capabilities. Featured smart sensors include pneumatics/vacuum, ultrasonic, photoeye, stacklight, electrical current, and analog position and pressure sensors.

Smart Product ID

Smart product identification components, including barcode, vision, and RFID scanners, allow learners to track parts and see production history of sorting, acceptance, and rejection of parts, as well as inventory control.

Network Communications

Network communications lie at the heart of Industry 4.0 systems. Amatrol adds Ethernet/PROFINET and wireless communications equipment to allow learners to utilize industrial protocols for real-time control, program transfer, data collection, and changing programs.

Network Security

Amatrol’s network security equipment teaches learners how to protect manufacturing processes and data from outside access, provide safe data communication between factory networks and the Internet, and securely extend operational data to suppliers and customers.

Smart Production Software

iGear Pulse cloud-based manufacturing execution software adds smart production capabilities that allow users to monitor real-time production data and equipment performance, enter and track orders, view system diagnostics, and analyze production trends.

Smart Maintenance Software

iGear Squeaks cloud-based visual communications software provides smart maintenance capabilities by collecting system data from all smart sensors and triggering maintenance operations via apps that can be used on smartphones, tablets, or personal computers.

Educators Call, Amatrol Responds

Smart Factory Enterprise - Educators Call - Amatrol RespondsBy its very nature, Smart Factory technology seeks to expand to connect all aspects of advanced manufacturing processes. It was this expansive tendency that inspired Amatrol to continue development of its Industry 4.0 training systems. In response to a call from educators for even more robust Industry 4.0 training, Amatrol created the Smart Factory Enterprise system.

The leaders of Gateway Technical College in Wisconsin approached Amatrol with the task of training their students for the highly-skilled Industry 4.0 jobs coming to their area. According to Gateway, “[b]ecause of global organizations such as Foxconn, Haribo and Amazon, the need for skilled Industry 4.0 employees is higher than ever in Southeast Wisconsin.”

Gateway recognized a real-world need to provide highly-skilled workers to these cutting-edge manufacturers dedicated to using Industry 4.0 technologies to maximize productivity throughout their entire enterprises. Specifically, Gateway sought to address training needs for both advanced manufacturing technology and supply chain management with an emphasis on Industry 4.0 technologies, such as robotics, industrial control systems, and the Internet of Things.

As one of its key training partners, Amatrol responded with an inspired solution: the Smart Factory Enterprise. Amatrol’s Smart Factory Enterprise system was released and installed at Gateway Technical College in October 2019 in conjunction with the unveiling of Gateway’s expanded SC Johnson Integrated Manufacturing and Engineering Technology (iMET) center in Sturtevant, Wisconsin.

To see the Smart Factory Enterprise system in action at Gateway, click below to watch a video filmed at the debut event:

In the words of Gateway president Bryan Albrecht, “Students benefit by having state-of-the-art training equipment and curriculum along with industry partnerships that support jobs and career aspirations. Employers benefit by having a workforce prepared to lead southeastern Wisconsin into the fourth industrial revolution, known as Industry 4.0.”

Smart Factory Enterprise: Taking Training to the Next Level

Smart Factory Enterprise Taking Training to the Next LevelAmatrol’s Smart Factory Enterprise represents true connected systems training at the enterprise level. Rather than providing discrete training systems focused on individual pieces, Amatrol’s Smart Factory Enterprise was designed to meet the need for hands-on training with a seamless system in which all the parts work together, just like learners will face on the job.

For example, it’s one thing for a worker to know how to program an individual robot. It’s another thing entirely for a worker to know how to program multiple robots to interact and share data in a working mechatronics system that also interfaces with autonomous robots and a smart conveyor system.

Using Amatrol’s Smart Factory Enterprise System, learners will gain real, relevant Industry 4.0 skills and experience, because they’ll be working with industry-standard components integrated in an enterprise system that replicates an authentic Smart Factory.

Amatrol’s Smart Factory Enterprise represents a groundbreaking approach to teaching Industry 4.0 skills with a multi-station automated manufacturing system that integrates mechatronics, robotics, conveyors, automated mobile robots, and a variety of other Smart Factory technologies, including the following real industrial components:

Autonomous Robot System

Autonomous robots, also known as autonomous guided vehicles or AGVs, are changing the way products and parts are transported throughout Smart Factories. Using Amatrol’s Autonomous Robot System, learners will develop important Industry 4.0 skills, including how to program an autonomous robot to travel between stations to deliver necessary items on a precise schedule.

Smart Robot Workcells

Amatrol’s Smart Robot Workcells allow users to integrate a variety of industrial FANUC robots with their Smart Factory Enterprise system. For example, the following FANUC robots can be used in conjunction with the Smart Robot Workcells: FANUC 200iD/4S, FANUC 200iD, and FANUC SCARA SR-6iA. The workcells also include a mobile workstation with a grid surface, a laser scanner, and an interface panel with discrete I/O/Ethernet, stacklight, and pneumatics.

Smart Conveyor System

Conveyors play a major role in automated systems in manufacturing facilities around the world. Amatrol’s Smart Conveyor System teaches learners important applications, such as assembly, material handling, quality/inspection, and machine loading.

In addition to a variable frequency drive (VFD), human-machine interface (HMI), and standard safety devices, the Smart Conveyor System interfaces with the Smart Robot Workcells and includes Industry 4.0 technologies, such as RFID pallet tracking and Ethernet communications.

Contact Amatrol to Learn More

Are you ready to take your Industry 4.0 training to the next level? If so, contact the experts at Amatrol today to ask them to consult with you on how to set up an Industry 4.0 training program that will meet your specific needs.

The Smart Factory Enterprise can be customized to include additional industrial components that satisfy particular needs. For example, a CNC machine or CNC simulator can be added to incorporate machining skills into your Industry 4.0 training.

Just fill out the Contact Form at the top of this webpage. Be sure to mention Smart Factory Enterprise in the Message field, and an Amatrol representative will be in touch with your shortly to determine how we can meet your Industry 4.0 training needs.


Smart Factory Enterprise Contact Form


About Duane Bolin

Duane Bolin is a former curriculum developer and education specialist. He is currently a Marketing Content Developer for Amatrol, Inc. Learn more about Amatrol and its technical training solutions, including eLearning, here and connect with Duane on Amatrol’s Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube pages.

  • Click to see full topic list

    0 items currently selected.

This information has been added to the contact form above. Click here to go to the top of the page.