Industry 4.0 school: Training for digital transformation

Jan. 6, 2021
Bedrock Automation’s School of Bedrock teaches ways to overcome challenges and leverage digital opportunities.

By Albert Rooyakkers, founder, CEO and CTO, Bedrock Automation

Managing the training of your workforce in today’s digital, COVID-altered economy presents three main challenges. First, trainers must identify and transmit the skills needed to take full advantage of opportunities that digitalization presents. Second, they must overcome barriers to access that training. And third, they need to cost-justify training investments when resources may be scarce.

Building the digital curriculum

The job skills required by the traditional economy will not go away, but digitalization is changing the way that many of us work. For example, in addition to learning about traditional automation skills such as digital Fieldbus management, ladder logic and sequential function charts, trainees at Bedrock Automation’s online School of Bedrock are learning skills that will grow in demand as operations become increasingly automated and digitized. Trainees learn how to use device-management tools to update the firmware of controllers and modules remotely. They learn how to integrate OPC UA and intrinsic-control security to run SCADA systems over public networks. And they learn how to deploy software-configurable universal IO.

Some such skills will emerge organically, as workers face these challenges and solve them. But there is a tremendous role for structured training in both applying known solutions and providing a foundation from which tomorrow’s automation specialist can imagine new applications.  

Conquering space and time

Whatever the content, it must be accessible. Because training does not correlate with profitability and productivity in real-time, training sessions can interfere with line functions. Virtual, self-paced training, however, makes it easier for employees to slot training during times that may have minimal impact on production and revenue. This is better for the employee and the business.  

At our School of Bedrock, trainees interact with all program elements through a single portal. They can work toward the certificate at their own pace. They can track their progress easily, pick up where they left off, and see the history of all their interactions. The whole process is user-friendly, visually pleasing and it is free.

Goodbye training fees from vendors

For companies constraining their budgets, investing in training is probably not on the top of their priority list. But taking advantage of digital learning opportunities requires workers at all levels to be on top of their games. This is where technology vendors can step in to resolve the dilemma.

At Bedrock, we are transitioning to a zero-cost training model. The Bedrock IDE application-development platform trainees use is also zero cost. And, because our cybersecurity is built into our control system, that security is essentially free, too. 

When vendors do step up to the plate, the benefits compound. Users save thousands of dollars customers might otherwise pay. Employees have the updated skills that can help them take advantage of new digital opportunities. And industry benefits as new digital applications advance and enrich each other.