Closing the skills gap in manufacturing with Microsoft 365

The manufacturing industry is being transformed by the rise in new digital industrial technology, known as Industry 4.0. New technologies are changing every stage of production, increasing productivity, optimizing operations, and unlocking new areas of growth. In order for manufacturers to capture the value this technology unlocks, they’ll need to ensure their workforce has the right skills and the right tools.

This is especially true as it relates to an organization’s Firstline Workforce. In manufacturing, Firstline Workers are the employees who deliver products and materials, drive product quality, and keep critical equipment running. To help manufacturers with their digital transformation, we’re enabling new ways to work with Microsoft 365 for Firstline Workers to learn, communicate, and collaborate more effectively.

Upskilling and equipping the Firstline Workforce

With the rise of Industry 4.0, manufacturers must reimagine the roles, skills, and tools to transform work throughout their organization. This means providing digital and soft skills, empowering workers with modern tools, and blurring the boundaries of technology with new immersive experiences. In an increasingly digital and complex landscape, the types of skills that employees need are rapidly evolving, and it is increasingly difficult for the workforce to keep pace.

Solutions in Microsoft 365 that enable Firstline Workers to learn, communicate, and collaborate include:

  • Using Microsoft Teams and SharePoint Online, manufacturers can securely centralize training efforts, easily distribute onboarding and training materials, and connect all levels of the organization to find and share best practices.

  • Using Microsoft Stream, organizations can deliver dynamic, role-based content and video to increase engagement and retention of training programs and support peer-to-peer information sharing.

To help equip workers to operate in a digitally-enabled manufacturing environment, Teams provides a single hub for teamwork to communicate, collaborate, and coordinate production from the engineering rooms to the factory floor.

  • Earlier this year, we announced new capabilities—including urgent messaging, location sharing, and image annotations—which organizations can use to create a safer and more efficient workplace. For example, these features can help workers identify, communicate, and share the location of hazardous spills to help reduce operational disruptions.

Image of three phones displaying urgent messaging, location sharing, and image annotations in Teams.

  • Additionally, Microsoft Teams is extensible and allows companies to transform business processes using Microsoft Flow and PowerApps. These services help to digitize everyday activities—such as documentation during quality assurance, data capture, and inventory management—helping reduce costs and free up time for Firstline Workers to focus on higher value activities.

As Industry 4.0 reshapes the manufacturing industry, finding new innovations to help workers learn, communicate, and collaborate remains a top priority. Microsoft is addressing these challenges through breakthroughs in hardware design, artificial intelligence (AI) experiences, mixed reality with HoloLens 2, and through business-ready solutions with Dynamics 365 and industry partners.

  • Using Dynamics 365 Remote Assist, technicians can solve problems faster by calling in remote experts via Microsoft Teams to help walk through repairs using mixed reality annotations, sharing diagrams and schematics. And with Dynamics 365 Guides, employees can learn new skills with step-by-step instructions that guide employees to the tools they need and how to use them in real work situations.

Helping our customers succeed

Leading manufacturers choose Microsoft 365 to prepare, equip, and empower their employees at all levels:

To accelerate productivity and information flow, Cummins replaced its existing productivity and collaboration tools with Microsoft 365, introducing a modern knowledge management and collaboration framework to reduce skills gaps and anchor a new culture of work.

Our modern, tech-driven workplaces give employees the tools they need to innovate, so we can introduce new energy products and technology solutions to the market. It’s also a key strategy in attracting top talent.”
—Sherry Aaholm, VP and CIO for Cummins

Goodyear is using the integrated and adaptive tools in Microsoft 365 to help accelerate innovation and enable new capabilities inside the company. For example, Goodyear is connecting its workforce via tools like Teams, which is driving productivity and generating efficiencies to deliver the right products to the right place at the right time.

“Enhancing collaboration is crucial to us for improved decision making and to drive innovation, both in tires and beyond tires… Our multigenerational and multicultural global workforce is now sharing perspectives and ideas more quickly and easily than ever.”
—Sherry Neubert, CIO for The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company

We’re incredibly excited about our opportunity to help manufacturers transform and we are just getting started!

Join us at Hannover Messe and learn more

Next week, members of the Microsoft team will be at Hannover Messe, the annual manufacturing conference. Visit us at Microsoft stand C40 and learn how Microsoft is enabling Intelligent Manufacturing.