Canadian Manufacturing

Manufacturing Automation: Co-op students: A key to plant managers’ success

"...it occurred to me that many of my most successful customers had benefitted from the youthful, tech-savvy enthusiasm of college students"

April 21, 2022   by Paul Hogendoorn

PHOTO: monkeybusinessimages/ iStock / Getty Images Plus

As I continue to share the top 10 tips I gleaned from industry-leading manufacturers over my 40-year career, I almost missed sharing this one. 

When it comes to digitizing processes on the plant floor in the pursuit of achieving “Industry 4.0” objectives, it occurred to me that many of my most successful customers had benefitted from the youthful, tech-savvy enthusiasm of college students working under the direction of the plant manager, getting ideas put into action that the manager, or his seasoned staff, was not able to do as effortlessly themselves. New technology has its advantages, but it is not as exciting to the ‘more seasoned’ crowd as it is to the younger generation that embraces it naturally and enthusiastically.

About a year ago, I was doing a presentation to a company that has three plants and about 500 employees. The owner of the company was still involved and was at the meeting along with his plant managers, continuous improvement manager, IT manager, chief financial officer and a few others. Almost as a tag-along, one of them invited their co-op student to the meeting, likely because it was his responsibility to keep the co-op student gainfully occupied for that four-month term.

This article originally featured in Manufacturing Automation. Read the full version here. 

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