Machinery Lubrication

Machinery Lubrication Jan Feb 2016

Machinery Lubrication magazine published by Noria Corporation

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54 | January - February 2016 | The "skills gap" or skilled worker shortage is a hot topic in industrial workplaces, but why and how bad is it? A recent Tooling U-SME study of more than 850 U.S. manufacturing companies revealed that 64 percent of respondents reported significant setbacks due to a shortage of skilled laborers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Boston Consulting Group estimate that roughly 264,000 machinists will be needed in the next five years. Meanwhile, research and consulting firm Deloitte has predicted that a staggering 2 million U.S. manufac- turing jobs will be vacant by 2025. The studies all seem to agree that the demand for skilled workers is increasing and this demand is not being met for a variety of reasons. Unfortunately, they also conclude that the resulting shortage will likely persist or even get worse. Far-reaching Effects Plants that are short-staffed, particularly those needing skilled workers, stand to suffer serious losses that extend far beyond daily challenges. On a day-to-day basis, these facilities may experience strain on existing staff members and increased limits in machine avail- ability. Plant personnel will need to work extra hours and take on added responsibilities for which they aren't trained. As a result, repairs and maintenance may be performed incorrectly or not at all, and machines may break down, prompting expensive repairs, reduced productivity and investment loss. According to Deloitte's survey, 60 percent of respondents said they rely heavily on overtime to meet demand, and almost half of them reported using third-party labor contractors to compensate for unfilled skilled positions in the workplace. These methods may get the job done, but this comes at a high cost to the company's financial and human capital. Respected efficiency models like Six Sigma and lean manufac- turing emphasize the importance of autonomous maintenance, employee ownership and empowerment. A staff burdened by unre- alistic expectations or too many responsibilities will not be capable of effective autonomous maintenance or a sense of empowerment in their work and will likely develop frustration and resentment. Productivity and financial setbacks are also significant, as numerous breakdowns translate into frequent repair costs, addi- tional labor and lost yield opportunity. Even brief stoppages or slower equipment operation (due to unreliable machines) can add up quickly with devastating results. Tooling U projected one manu- facturer would experience an 11-percent loss of annual earnings — $4.6 million — just from not having appropriately trained personnel in the right plant positions. Short-term Solutions Employers have several options, but perhaps the most immediate and impactful involve competency modeling, succession planning and training. A 2013 study by Manpower Group indicated that 53 percent of skilled trade workers in the United States were 45 years old or older, and at least one-fifth of them were between 55 and 64 years of age. In spite of this, a troubling tendency to overlook or underestimate this growing problem seems to prevail. Approxi- mately 54 percent of Tooling U's respondents reported that no company-wide plan was in place for addressing the aging workforce or existing gaps. Deloitte found similar results. Respondents indi- cated that they had methods for developing talent within the existing workforce, but they were informal and therefore impossible to track or measure for effectiveness. Only 31 percent even had a formal career-development program in place. Managers must begin by establishing a competency model with clear-cut expectations for employees' knowledge, skills and abilities. This strategy is woefully underutilized. Only 17 of Deloitte's respon- dents reported using competency model tools. By utilizing data-driven information on where a workforce is lacking and pairing this with clearly defined expectations, standards and goals, managers can gauge which areas to target in terms of training and career development. The end results will vary based on the work- place, but the most essential step is to implement an analytical By CaiTLin sChUDaLL a, noria CorporaTion TR AINING AND CERTIFICATION L u b r i c a t i o n P r o g r a m s How to ADDRESS the Skilled Worker SHORTAGE

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