The Internet of Things is turning out to be the next big thing for Chris Conrad.
Conrad is the production manager for Akron’s Ohio Gasket & Shim, a family-owned and – operated supplier of custom metal stampings and fabrications for the national defense, railroad, truck and aerospace industries. What he learned at Walsh University’s new Skilled Workforce Training Program not only opened his eyes but made an immediate impact on his company’s productivity and profits.
“I was told I was going to stay at home for three days and take this course,” says Conrad. “After the first day, my brain was going 100 mph. In one hour, I had information on a screen that made me stand back and go, ‘Wow.’”
Conrad immediately had an idea to solve one of his company’s issues by monitoring a machine with a Raspberry Pi device. The Raspberry Pi, a small, low-cost computer that first hit the U.S. market eight years ago, helps unlock the Internet of Things (IoT), a system of interrelated technical elements that collect, store and analyze critical data.
In Conrad’s case, the Raspberry Pi has been invaluable during Ohio Gasket & Shim’s “lights out” operations, when its machines are programmed to manufacture pieces at night. “I’m not an electrical guy but I was able to hook up a Pi and now I can see exactly how many pieces run each night when no one is on the floor,” he says.
‘THE APPLICATIONS FOR IOT ARE ENDLESS’
While Walsh University’s training program has proved to be beneficial to manufacturers, this fall’s participants in the three-day interactive training program will include such diverse companies as Biery Cheese, EG Industries, Peoples Services and Valley Trucking Services.
“The applications for IoT are endless,” says Walsh University’s Michael Dunphy, who created the program along with colleague Dan Passerini. “In the space we’re in right now we’re helping manufacturers, but this can be used to make any workplace more valuable.”
Walsh’s training program covers three components – what the IoT is and why it is valuable; metrics and data analysis; and soft skills, such as brainstorming and working collaboratively.
“We’re not just reaching out to workers, we want to include IT folks and managers as well,” Dunphy says. “Getting data quickly and being able to adjust on the fly is a huge boost for any business.”
Conrad took more away from the training sessions than merely baseline knowledge of the IoT. “The emotional intelligence phase of the program opened my eyes to a whole new avenue at work and in my personal life,” he says. “Being able to control my emotions has been an entire life-changing event for me. I actually apply these things every day.”
Participants in the program not only receive IoT equipment but have access to independent consultations with professors and industry professionals. The only requirements are an associate degree or higher or two years of work experience involving networking, coding, electronics, machining or related fields.
“People are awakened by this,” Dunphy says. “It’s great to see them walk out and say, ‘Hey, I can do this.’ That gets us all fired up.”