Skilling Turkey: How the MEXT Digital Transformation Center Will Create the Next Generation of Industry 4.0 Workers

Barış Arıkan, MESS
June 7, 2021
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Around the globe, new ways of working, coupled with rapidly changing technologies, are disrupting the manufacturing industry and the skills needed by the workforce.

Around the globe, new ways of working, coupled with rapidly changing technologies, are disrupting the manufacturing industry and the skills needed by the workforce. Up-skilling and re-skilling of manufacturing employees will be crucial to building operating-model resilience. Both companies and workers in the manufacturing industry must figure out how to adapt to rapidly changing conditions and must learn how to match their existing workers to new roles and responsibilities. This dynamic has presented a huge challenge.

In Istanbul, MESS—a leading employers’ association representing the most important manufacturing companies in Turkey—is addressing this challenge by establishing a distinctive technology center called MEXT, which will provide 240-plus members with direct support and guidance with regards to capability development and workforce up-skilling. This center will build on and enhance the technology and innovation capacity of member companies, encouraging them to define their transformation roadmaps and start the execution as quickly as possible, as well as foster their collaboration and engagement with world-class institutes and technology companies on their transformation journeys.

MEXT is located in central Istanbul on 10,000 square meters (over 100,000 square feet), which includes a digital factory, capability building classrooms, conference halls and a showcase area. We believe MEXT may be the only digital transformation center of this scale globally.

Within MEXT, there is dedicated content composed of customized capability building programs that will be given to employees of MESS members to improve their competence in fields like new technologies, digital transformation and Industry 4.0. Within this scope, the target audience can be classified in four main groups: C-levels, mid-level managers, engineers/experts and team leaders/operators. All capability building programs aim to set inspiration, create urgency to change, and a basic and deep knowledge in topics such as industrial transformation, Industry 4.0 technologies, change leadership and leading transformation.

All capability building contents, methodologies, durations and target outcomes have been determined by having met with leading universities and academies. This up-skilling program aims to provide capability building for more than 30,000 employees per year. These programs can also be offered in workplaces, abroad and online platforms as well as in the classroom.

To provide more context on the capability building scope of the four main groups mentioned above, here are the details of the program that may give inspiration to other communities:

C Levels: A learning and development journey consisting of three main modules

The first module for C-level executives is a four-day onsite program, which takes place in Germany, starting in Stuttgart and ending in Berlin, in which participants will come together with the world’s technology and production giants, see and experience the latest technologies and creative business models.

The second module is a one-day program which includes a MEXT shop floor visit and presentations and workshops of world-class experts of the topics related to Industry 4.0 enablers and technologies.

In the third module, we are going to have a three-day program which consists of change leadership, Industry 4.0 implementation, IIoT enablers and leading transformation topics via in-class training by the lecturers of world-leading universities.

In addition to these programs, as part of continuous learning, we will deliver online courses about disruptive strategy to support C-levels executives interested in how to transform innovative ideas into strategy.

We are reaching out to 250 CEOs, general managers and company owners.

Plant Directors and Mid-Level Managers: A three-module journey empowering Industry 4.0 transformation

For plant directors and mid-level managers, the learning objective of first module is to understand changing the external environment, familiarizing with the building blocks and fundamentals of Industry 4.0, and reviewing global best practices to truly internalize the benefits of a digital transformation.

The second module is a deep-dive into Industry 4.0 technologies in order to master how to apply them in use cases, through experimentations, with relation to typical vendors.

The first and second modules are delivered on the MEXT shop floor. They have been designed with the principle of experiential learning methodology and an iterative approach. With the help of a business case, they witness the progress of a company that is using Industry 4.0 and will learn how to make it happen in a real business. The logic behind the business case is to help participants understand the added value of Industry 4.0 applications on the shop floor.  

The third module aims to boost and adapt management and leadership skills to lead a successful digital manufacturing transformation, from developing business cases to prioritization and continuous improvement.

Very similar to the C-level, there will be online capability building programs to be offered to mid level managers as well.

We will be reaching out to almost 700 plant directors and mid-level managers annually with the program.

Engineers and Experts:  Three-module course to gain advanced manufacturing know-how to implement new solutions

The learning objectives of the first module for engineers and experts are to understand changing external environments, familiarizing with the building blocks and fundamentals of Industry 4.0, reviewing global best practices to truly internalize the benefits of Industry 4.0 by seeing global forces and changes in manufacturing.

The second module covers how to identify Industry 4.0 opportunities on shop floor, experience Industry 4.0 in action, learn skills ranging from hard skills such as AA to soft skills like problem solving and coaching. Engineers and experts visit MEXT digital factory shop floor to see use case data and analytics, develop business cases for use cases, and understand organizational change.

Similar to the plant directors and mid-level managers journey, first and second modules are delivered on the MEXT shop floor. They have been designed with the principle of experiential learning methodology and the iterative approach. With the help of a technical case specific to engineers and experts, they learn how to up-skill and re-skill in an Industry 4.0 environment and take the needed initiative for their own companies. The technical case helps participants to understand the technology deeply and the implementation of an Industry 4.0 project  

The third module is a deep-dive session that aim to boost and adapt new engineering skills coming along with Industry 4.0, to design a successful digital manufacturing transformation system. The objective is for engineers to gain new skills to solve their daily challenges that contribute directly to business KPI. Engineers will also gain practical experience related to Industry 4.0 implementation.

Parallel to these journeys, online capability building content will be offered to engineers and experts.  

There is a plan to reach almost 900 engineers annually with this program.

Operators: A learning and development journey consisting of three modules

The first module for operators is “Digital Literacy” program which is a one-day capability building activity designed in close coordination with the labour unions. Our objectives are to increase their awareness about Industry 4.0, let them learn the exact definition of digital literacy and an entry level of Industry 4.0 technologies. We are planning to reach almost 20,000 operators annually with this content.

The second module is a two-day, in-class program which includes learning the basics of Industry 4.0, understanding changing external environments, familiarizing with the building blocks and fundamentals of Industry 4.0, and a discussion on how to be a change agent on the shop floor to facilitate a positive impact. We are planning to reach almost 5,500 operators annually with this training.

The third module is a two-day technical capability building program which aims to up-skill and re-skill our operators with Industry 4.0 technologies. It includes the topics of IT-OT convergence, robotics and sensors. It gives a hands-on experience to develop our operators capabilities on the shop floor and assembly line. They will have the chance to learn the theoretical side of these future technologies and practice it at the same time, accelerating the digital transformation on the shop floor. We are planning to reach 4,000 operators annually with this activity.

The End Goal

MESS’ vision is to deliver this world-class service to our members’ employees in a sustainable way together with the world’s best partners and the best subject matter experts in each and every topic. With the MEXT technology center, we are committed to support our members in their transformation journey with a goal to designing an end-to-end transformation experience. We believe this approach will push industry for continous development and in parallel create the most updated content. Thanks to our members for input and observations in the field, as well as guidance from the globally leading experts on our Advisory Committee.

Barış Arıkan, MESS
Barış Arıkan, MESS

Barış Arıkan started his business career in the defense industry as a Hardware Engineer at Microware Electronics Systems, Inc. After spending a year in New York for a joint project with Lockheed Martin, he continued his overseas experience at Environmental Tectonics Corporation in USA where he acted as the Electrical Design Team Leader for the training, testing, and research & development of flight simulators until 2006. After returning to Turkey, he has pursued his career in IT industry and taken several sales management responsibilities before joining IBM in 2009 where he acted as the Software Sales Manager. Before his current role at MESS as the Head of Digital Ecosystem and Partnership Development, he was the Regional Sales Director at GE Power Digital, leading the sales team for the activities in Turkey, Israel, Greece and Pakistan.As a graduate of Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Department of Electrical & Electronics Engineering, Arıkan also holds an MBA degree from Istanbul Bilgi University.

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