If I say, “Close your eyes and imagine an IT person at work,” what do you think of? My mind used to immediately go to towering office buildings, bright server rooms, a massive inventory of computers and peripherals, and seven new ‘high priority’ tickets asking how to connect to the color printer. While this role is still needed in offices across the country, IT professionals are increasingly in demand within manufacturing.

We are living in the age of Industry 4.0, which includes improvements in material science, a robust internet, robotics and automation, and more advanced analytics. Some say we are seeing the first chapters of Industry 5.0 with rapid improvements to Artificial Intelligence and the rise of mass customization in consumer goods.

Below are some of the key roles that are needed as IT and manufacturing converge in Industry 4.0.


There are dozens of roles within engineering that are needed to design and integrate IT infrastructure and modern systems into the manufacturing process. Here are just a few examples.

  • Manufacturing Engineers oversee the integration of robotics into the broader manufacturing process. They optimize workflows, assess production efficiency, and ensure that robotic systems align with overall production goals.
  • Automation Engineers specialize in designing and implementing automated systems, including robotics. They are responsible for selecting appropriate technologies, programming robotic systems, and ensuring a seamless integration with existing manufacturing processes.
  • Robotics Engineers focus specifically on the design, development, and programming of robotic systems. They work on the mechanical, electrical, and software aspects of robots to optimize their performance.
  • Controls Engineers develop the software and algorithms required for the operation of robotic systems. They work on programming languages, simulation, and the user interface to facilitate seamless interaction between humans and robots.

Depending on your local labor market, it may be tough to hire some of these positions, or you may only need these roles during the design and integration process. Our solution can fill these highly skilled and niche roles for as long or as short as you need, with less pressure on your HR and Recruiting teams. FlexTrades engineers can even be deployed to document and improve work instructions and Standard Operating Procedures, which can free up in-house engineers to carry on with new projects.

Project Managers

When a company makes a large capital investment in new technology, they use Project Managers to oversee the planning, execution, and completion of the project. Project Managers coordinate efforts between various teams (including IT), manage resources, and ensure projects are delivered on time.

Network and Database Administrators

Network Administrators manage and maintain the organization’s computer networks, ensuring seamless connectivity and communication between different systems and departments.

Database Administrators manage the databases that store critical manufacturing data and processes. They ensure data integrity, security, and optimal performance.

Maintenance Technicians

Once robots are introduced in a production facility, someone needs to take care of them. This is the role of Maintenance Technicians and Robotics Technicians. They will perform routine maintenance, troubleshoot issues, and repair robotic systems. They ensure the continuous functionality of automated equipment.

Programming Technicians

Experienced programmers are indispensable on the production floor. They can write programs for new parts, debug and troubleshoot existing programs, and find efficiencies to reduce cycle times. A great programmer can upskill their peers, reduce programing times and improve production cycle times.


System Analysts determine the information needs of the manufacturing process and recommend IT solutions. Once automations and robots are operational, heaps of data points are generated to report on their performance. Data Analysts use those data points to analyze performance metrics and identify opportunities for improvements in the process.


Now, if I say again, “Close your eyes and imagine an IT person at work,” what do you think of? As I learn more about modern manufacturing, I think about the networking and IT infrastructure that must be in place for everything to work seamlessly.

It’s important to remember that robots are not coming for your jobs. Skilled employees will always be necessary on the front lines of American manufacturing. Modern technology, like robotics and automation, creates millions of jobs designing, programing, and maintaining these production facilities. If you are looking for work in Engineering, Automation & Robotics, or anything else in manufacturing, check out our job boards!

If you’re an employer, check out our engineering solutions to see how we can help you move further into Industry 4.0. 

Robots Aren’t Coming for Your Jobs

Have you heard about Industry 4.0? It’s the fourth industrial revolution. The first was about mechanization and happened in the 18th century. The second occurred during the 19th century and centered around electrification. The 20th century saw the third, which was all about computers. Now we’re in the 21st century and smack dab in the middle of the fourth industrial revolution. This revolution is about what are called cyber-physical systems – the convergence of machine and computer. Industry 4.0 is evidenced by automation, robotics, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), and the ongoing move towards “lights out” manufacturing.

Most of you have heard about Industry 4.0, you just don’t realize it. This is because most of what you’ve heard has been misrepresented. In general, talk about the fourth industrial revolution starts with, “The robots are coming to take our jobs!” Does that ring a bell? I’m here to tell you, that isn’t going to happen.

Industry 4.0

133 million Jobs Expected to be Created

We expect technology (like robots and larger automation processes) to eliminate a lot of jobs around the world. According to a oft-cited study conducted jointly by Hays and Oxford Economics, it can be expected that technology will “cull” 75 million jobs globally by the end of this decade. That’s an undeniably huge number, so why am I saying that the worries about robots taking jobs are being misrepresented? Because an even larger number mentioned in that same study never seems to get the same amount of attention. That number is 133 million, and it’s mentioned in reference to the number of jobs we expect to be CREATED by technology during that same time frame. That’s an almost 2:1 ratio and means that robots and technology are expected to create 100% more jobs than they eliminate worldwide!

Why People are Worried

Why, then, is everybody so worried about robots? In my opinion, it’s mostly because people inherently dislike change. Technology’s biggest benefit to industry (whether manufacturing, finance, retail, etc.) is to move the variable (in most cases, that’s the human element – you) further and further from where machine (mill, lathe, pen, phone call, point of sale, etc.) and material (metal, wood, receipt, service, etc.) meet. This is because that intersection is where errors, inefficiencies, and injuries happen most often. By moving that wild card (you), technology can help deliver better results while simultaneously making jobs safer.

Technology will Change Today’s Jobs

There’s a silver lining – technology is making our human jobs easier, safer, and more secure every day. So, what’s the bad news? It’s that technology will cause those same jobs to change continuously and consistently throughout a career. And that’s not going to change. This is also why a skills gap exists today. We have the jobs. We have the people to fill them. But those people don’t currently possess the skills needed to fill those jobs. The skills gap has led to a hiring shortfall of over 2 million people in American manufacturing alone!

Opportunities for Employers

What does this mean for you? If you’re an employer, it means that your workforce headaches aren’t going away anytime soon. FlexTrades can help with that, if needed. Visit our website to learn more about our manufacturing solutions.

Opportunities for Employees

If you’re an employee, this means that the robots are making more employment opportunities for you than ever before. McKinsey expects somewhere between 75 million and 375 million workers will eventually be “displaced” by technology. The sheer scale of opportunity for career advancement for workers worldwide is mind boggling when you think about it. You just need to keep growing your knowledge and skills, along with the technological advances of your industry, to ensure that you can benefit.

Already in manufacturing or the skilled trades? We could be a good employment option for you! Browse our jobs and bookmark our blog page.

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