The manufacturing world is changing quickly. Production lines are becoming more complex, and an aging workforce threatens to hemorrhage the hard-won knowledge of industry experts. Training new recruits effectively and efficiently is the key to making sure your staff is ready for the fourth industrial revolution.
The manufacturing industry faces a looming skills gap that is set to increase over the coming years. By 2025, analysts predict that there will be 2,000,000 skilled manufacturing jobs that might go unfilled. In fact, over the next few years over a quarter of all manufacturing workers will be over 55. When expertise acquired over a lifetime is not be transferred to the newest generation, manufacturers face what is known as a ‘skills leak’. However, the problem is not as simple as just an aging workforce.
Due to a range of societal and economic causes, more students are pursuing college degrees, sometimes in subject areas that don’t set them up for practical jobs within the industry. Although this is a wider issue for the industry, a stop-gap solution is needed to ensure that enough recruits are being trained fast and well enough from an increasingly shallow pool of talent. As the education system places less focus on preparing students for jobs within manufacturing, many potential new recruits are working in other, lower barrier-to-entry jobs like shipping, transportation and service sector jobs.
With mass customization on the rise, production lines in manufacturing plants are becoming increasingly complex; individual workers will be required to work faster and learn many intricate and complicated skills and processes. Manufacturing jobs are also increasingly being outsourced to countries that have lower living wages and salaries. Although this reduces the cost of operations for global businesses, it is also contributing to the skills gap. As some manufacturing plants want to keep their operations local, they have the burden of local compliance and governance laws. As manufacturers set up more local businesses, they will have to find a way to ensure that they can spread their centralized knowledge.
Modern problems require modern solutions. Manufacturers will have to rethink the way they empower new recruits with skills training. AR-based skills training allows manufacturers to recruit higher-quality talent from a smaller pool. For example, GSI adopted augmented reality-based training solutions when hiring new recruits. By replacing over 200 slides with a handful of augmented reality experiences, they managed to reduce the overall time of skills training by 60%. AR-based training breaks the image of manufacturing as an outdated, dull career path. Engaging training and upskilling may be the key to attracting digitally-native millennials.
A key advantage of augmented reality is that it allows senior experts to spread their knowledge worldwide from wherever they are based. Remote assistance, afforded by augmented reality solutions, can mean that you can retain your company’s expertise as you go global. Augmented reality training can also be adapted from language to language, and often relies on images and iconography, reducing the impact of the language barrier.
To tackle the problem of the increased complexity of the modern-day production line, AR will prove itself to be key. As processes and solutions are updated, you will no longer have to reprint and ship new, updated instruction sets to plants based around the world. You can instantly update your instructions and make it available to workers worldwide.
Remote assistance enables experts to assist with machinery inspections or new processes from anywhere in the world, saving the cost and time of onsite trips to manufacturing plants. Experts can utilize a technology like Vuforia’s Remote Assist to enable new recruits to tap into the hard-won knowledge of your industry subject matter experts.
New skills can be difficult to learn, particularly implementing theoretical knowledge into practical applications. Even if new recruits have successfully studied and memorized a presentation or textbook, they may struggle to identify parts, products, or processes in real life. Product visualization capabilities offered by AR is key to quick and effective onboarding.
As new recruits get used to the workplace, it is incredibly helpful to have digital information overlaid on the world in front of them. AR not only helps you to train new recruits but is also effective for helping established workers update their skills and knowledge.
To find out more about how AR can help you close the skills gap, read our eBook on augmented reality and the skills gap.