In-depth MES and IIoT training – one key to our success?

How do you evolve an MES and IIoT consulting firm into an industry leader? Is it by:

  1. Delivering innovative solutions that place our manufacturing customers on the path to becoming industry leaders?
  2. Maintaining a wealth of manufacturing/MES/IIoT knowledge that provides ongoing value to our customers?
  3. Building an environment that allows people to be challenged, creative, valued, and safe?

You guessed it – all of the above.

In a consulting business, everything revolves around people. Unlike our clients, we have no machinery to leverage. Our road to success lies through helping each other, individually and collectively, to thrive and shine.

So we don’t leave culture or personal development to happenstance. The bootcamp training program I’ll be talking about today is one of a set of initiatives we’ve been working on for years.

My journey to bootcamp

When the bootcamp initiative started, I was asked to take on a significant training role.  After conducting several training sessions for our new hires, I found I really enjoyed it. While I’d also enjoyed the excitement and challenges of my career as a senior consultant, helping to deliver MES and IIoT solutions to forward-thinking manufacturers, the training role offered a brand-new area for growth.

When it became evident that a permanent Training Manager was needed, I already knew I took great satisfaction in helping recruits reach their full potential and set out on the right path. I also saw great potential in the program helping our company grow internally, and serving as a unique training resource to manufacturers worldwide. I expressed interest in this new position and feel fortunate to have been given the opportunity.

The Factora journey to bootcamp

Maybe you missed our first post on our then brand-new bootcamp, in May 2018? To re-cap, we had 3 primary reasons for the bootcamp initiative:

  • Scalability: We’re couldn’t train fast enough to keep up with our pace of growth
  • Resource issues: Mentor-style training drew too heavily on our senior consultants
  • Greater structure: We wanted training to cover every aspect of what we do, providing new hires with a strong foundation to build on

The bootcamp initiative was a success from day one. Graduates were able to contribute much more quickly to MES and IIoT implementation projects than new hires prior to bootcamp.

Practical MES and IIoT training by real-world practitioners

Our bootcamp is four months of real-world MES and IIoT training, delivered by real-world practitioners and SMEs from our US, Canadian, and remote offices.  While the Factora investment is substantial, the rewards include:

  • An ongoing supply of new resources who are ready to contribute to projects and solutions in 4 months as opposed to 1 year or more
  • Customers who appreciate the quality of knowledge and work of all involved
  • An employee who feels a sense of value and purpose from day one.

What do trainees learn at bootcamp?

Our bootcamp starts with technical training, covering:

  • What is MES? What benefits does it provide to manufacturers?
  • Where does the data come from? (We review common production data sources such as PLCs DCS HMIs, etc.)
  • How does data flow from the source to user? We dive into data transfer:
    • PLC -> OPC -> Historian -> MES Applications -> Visualization solutions
  • Implementing all aspects of an MES solution, such as GE Plant Applications
  • How to develop a visualization solution using IIoT platforms such as PTC’s ThingWorx

About 6 weeks in, this acquired knowledge is put to the test. Trainees start an internal MES/IIoT project that mimics a real-world customer project.

Each trainee has to create a functional design specification and a technical design specification. They build their solution using GE’s Historian, GE’s Plant Applications, and PTC’s ThingWorx.  Part of this project is independent, part collaborative (in the following blog, Aaron Perrault, a recent bootcamp graduate, will talk about his personal experience).

We also dive into personal skills and principles of good business. This includes leadership, code of conduct, ethics, compliance, time management, effective presentations, and good teamwork.

The growth that can be achieved by our new hires in just a handful of (intense, carefully planned) months is quite remarkable and is a major factor in what makes my role so rewarding. Between the technical and business skills acquired through the bootcamp process, and the introduction to Factora’s culture, bootcamp graduates gain the skillsets necessary to become successful and valuable team members. Great for personal growth, great for company growth.

Word gets out; clients want in

Our bootcamp’s goal was to ramp up our internal training capability.

However, many of our customers heard about our bootcamp training process and chose to send their people through our training program (one of the reasons I suspect that our offer of practical MES / IIoT training may be unique worldwide).  To date, we have conducted many customer-focused training sessions.

My goal as Factora Training Manager

My goal? For Factora to become known as the worldwide leader in practical MES and IIoT training, bringing real-world implementation experience into the classroom.

At Factora we frequently label ourselves as word-class MES / IIoT solution providers who make the impossible seem routine. Which means that what we are really all about – as our CEO Barry Lynch likes to say – is people.

In my new role, I’m responsible for ensuring Factora keeps building the best people in the business. I welcome the challenge!

Our next blog post will be by a recent bootcamp graduate, Aaron Perreault. Please bookmark and come back in 2 weeks to hear about the Factora boot camp experience from a trainee perspective.