Wherever you look the role of the engineer is changing. The use of AI and robotics is only increasing, and more people are studying for technology-related skills rather than traditional engineering qualifications. Mechanically minded engineers have long ago adjusted to understanding software-controlled devices which diagnose faults and ping messages and updates to engineering teams. As a result, engineers are developing and using mechanical, electronic and software skills to maintain equipment whether remotely or in the field. But what does this mean for the future?
Will there be engineers with less experience in the field supported by technology e.g., wearing Google Glasses connected to a skilled engineer or team of specialist engineers in the back office giving instructions? Meaning skill levels overall decrease, and the total cost of labour is reduced as fewer highly skilled people are required.
- Will the most skilled engineers specialise in distinct areas or be multi-skilled?
- How many of the problems can be re-set / re-calibrated by users onsite, or remotely, or even automatically? Will this mean service fees reduce?
- Will physical inspections and safety checks be conducted in person or remotely by a computer?
- When it’s a case of “Sorry, computer says no”, what happens next? Will we have less skilled people to fix complex problems?
- Will there be more waste / written off equipment because of technology?
We’d love to know what you think the future will look like for engineers in a service environment? In a recent podcast, we talked with Tony Stevens from Locators and compared his sector to the automotive industry where tech has transformed significant parts of the mechanical engineers’ role. Whatever the future holds, one thing is for sure; technology-supported engineering is increasing and those service maintenance organisations that are using the correct tech for their market will stand to gain.
Taking time to think about what this means for your people: how you attract, develop and retain talent in your business is key. Systems will need to support processes and people, capture and share better data, and transparency and automation will become the norm. So, if you don’t have the right tech to support your team and your customers, it could be time to start thinking about these questions and what the future looks like in your sector.