It is no secret that America’s workforce is aging – according to a recent study performed by the Government Accountability Office, 20% of the nation’s workforce will be age 55 and above by 2015. This presents new challenges – and opportunities – for companies all over the nation, and in particular, those operating in complex, highly regulated industries like aerospace, defense, ship building and nuclear.
That is because replacing an employee who has retired from these industries – whether in engineering, on the production floor or in the MRO shop – takes a long time. Newer, younger workers don’t have a wealth of hard-earned, hard-learned lessons that come from decades of mistakes, near-misses and discoveries. At the same time, the retiring knowledge pool deprives them of critical context needed to quickly learn new processes and procedures demanded by developing technology and a quickly changing market.
So what can a company do to prepare for the coming wave of experienced personnel retirements – and the resultant gap in expert-knowledge and experience?
They can implement Solumina.
Solumina is a digital solution for Complex Manufacturing, Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO), Quality Assurance and Supplier Management that transitions companies away from paper-based processes, facilitates communication and feedback between engineers, managers and suppliers, and greatly increases shop floor visibility and document traceability. Most crucially, it replaces huge libraries of binders filled with thousands of pages of training materials and work instructions with easy-to-use digital versions that directly link to current Engineering Models and specs. No more hunting for lost files or waiting to access work instructions that someone else has “checked out” from the shelf. By making work instructions intuitive and universally available to everyone simultaneously, it becomes much easier to both train new workers and reduce the amount of errors they make (to say nothing of limiting the resultant fall out of those mistakes.)
Because learning becomes more intuitive for the workers and more efficient for the trainers, companies can ensure that their newer employees quickly build the knowledge base they need to continue performing the critical functions of positions held by senior workers who are eyeing retirement. This ensures the continuity of business processes and standards of quality across the coming generational change.
There is no replacement for the hard-won experience and intangible soft skills that older workers have developed over a long, dedicated career in complex manufacturing, but your company doesn’t have to suffer from a gap in technical knowledge. By switching away from cumbersome paper-based processes to an integrated digital solution like Solumina, you make training easier and more effective, reduce inefficiencies on the shop floor and eliminate administrative redundancies. You also make the job more attractive to the younger workforce who will not be thrilled with those old paper-based processes. No matter how much of your workforce decides to trade in their hard hats, tools and blueprints for a well-deserved retirement, with Solumina, your company will continue to deliver high quality products and services on budget, on time, every time .
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