Using Augmented Reality to empower the next generation of manufacturing workers | Technology
|Using Augmented Reality to empower the next generation of manufacturing workers|
Empowering the next generation of manufacturing workers using Augmented Reality
- The manufacturing industry is suffering from a growing labor shortage.
- AR technology can help address this issue while creating a fit workforce for the future.
Whether due to workforce retirement or challenges in hiring skilled workers, there is currently a labor shortage in the manufacturing sector.
Manufacturers are experiencing the departure of their most skilled and experienced workers due to an aging workforce and economic factors creating pressure to incentivize older and more expensive workers to retire. In 2021, the US Department of Labor reported that there were more than 425,000 job openings nationwide for machinists and tool and die makers. The average age of a train driver is 53 years old and 90% of train drivers are over 40 years old. Therefore, many are retiring and decades of experience may be lost with each employee who retires.
Why is hiring AR technologies such a challenge?
The bottom line is that there are more job openings than there are people who have enough experience to get hired, and they don't get the experience for various reasons. These jobs often require a hands-on, applied training program that can last anywhere from several months to over a year. Furthermore, with the ongoing digital transformation of the manufacturing industry, the skills required are changing and much of the workforce still does not possess them.
Additionally, younger workers have different job and career expectations or simply a lack of interest in the industry. This lack of interest can be largely attributed to misconceptions about manufacturing. Many recent college graduates view manufacturing as an industry intended for people who did not pursue a post-secondary education. In reality, there are many manufacturing jobs that require college degrees and some that require doctorates.
A recent study by the Manufacturing Institute showed that although domestic manufacturing is perceived as increasingly important to the economy, many Americans are unaware that the industry is becoming increasingly high-tech, which not only improves the productivity of employees, but also provides highly advanced transferable skills.
One of these cutting-edge technologies is augmented reality (AR). AR is a highly visual and interactive method of presenting relevant digital information in the context of the physical environment. You can connect employees and improve business results. In a nutshell, AR technology can democratize knowledge. This is particularly important because as experienced manufacturing workers age, their knowledge can easily be shared with younger, more technology-focused workers.
AR technology enhances what we see in the present by integrating simulated objects and information into the real world. The use of AR in manufacturing enables revolutionary new training methods whereby workers can learn and perfect tasks virtually in the environments where they will be performed, thereby accelerating key metrics such as time to productivity and time to resolution. Since AR technology breaks the limitations of the physical world, it allows humans to be present with each other regardless of distance.
By implementing AR technology, industrial companies are driving workforce efficiency and safety, improving operational performance and reducing costs in the factory and field. Manufacturing experts can capture step-by-step procedures and best practices as they work, then transform that knowledge into reusable process documents, job aids, and training materials, helping less experienced or novice workers get up to speed quickly and efficiently.
AR can deliver critical information to manufacturing workers exactly when and where they need it. It offers a way to create and deliver easily consumable work instructions by integrating digital content into real-world work environments. Empowering the workforce with AR technology through better information delivery, faster knowledge transfer, modernized training methods, immediate access to remote expertise, and improved customer experiences will change the industry just when it's needed most.
AR is reshaping the way manufacturing employees gain knowledge and digitally interact with their physical environment, resulting in faster execution, fewer manual processes, and better decision-making. Knowledge is essentially democratized, as the workforce at large has easy access to the most expert information for the job.
Looking Ahead: The Future of AR Manufacturing
Source: World Economic Forum, Direct News 99