In 5 to 10 years two-thirds of the manufacturing workforce will be over the age of 55 and approaching retirement. While this could create a shortage of skilled workers in a number of fields including electric utilities, telecommunications, and manufacturing, augmented reality (AR) is poised not only to address issues faced by our aging workforce but to fundamentality increase productivity by changing how all employee training works in the future.
Cost of training today
It costs more to hire a new employee than it does to retain current employees. Training is typically expensive due to training materials (printed guidebooks, instruction manuals, etc.), training personnel, and the use of machinery and equipment (that could otherwise be put to work). In 2016, companies across industries spent nearly $1,000 in training per employee, largely delivered in traditional formats like classroom-based seminars and classes, and even online training modules that mimic that experience. This kind of learning has suited people’s needs for centuries, particularly when learning was thought of as memorization with many cultures celebrating those who could recite long texts with exceptional rote skills.
How to use AR for training
In the coming years, machine learning and augmented reality will likely take both educational approaches to the next level by empowering workers to have the latest, most accurate information available in context, when and where they need it most.
A virtual presence for skilled workers
AR glasses will give the most skilled workers near omnipotence. No organization has a workforce with equally distributed skills and experience. When out-of-the-ordinary problems occur in the field, all-too-often a second team needs to be dispatched, costing the company both time and money. Rather than rolling the second truck with more senior technicians when an unfamiliar problem is discovered, top talent can now work from a central location and literally see what the field service teams are seeing from their augmented glasses. A construction crane operator, for example, could remotely operate cranes at construction sites around the globe. The most experienced workers will be available to transport their skills across time and space—without ever leaving their desks.
Retaining skills and knowledge through augmented reality
Augmented reality systems can retain valuable employee learnings and insights. Highly trained skills will no longer leave the company when experienced workers retire. A recent U.S. government report estimates that half of all electrical lineworkers will retire within the decade causing a shortage of manpower that could affect America’s energy grid. Artificial intelligence systems can actually learn and adapt by watching what today’s workers are doing right (and conversely what they are doing wrong) to make the augmented systems smarter and safer. With machine learning built into future systems, all workers can benefit from whatever one worker has discovered. Training systems become evolving tools for increasing productivity and safety.
Heads-up displays on AR glasses or safety helmets will assist those in the field by being able to recognize equipment and guide workers through step-by-step diagnostics. A maintenance worker could look at a specific make or model of high-voltage equipment on an oil rig and be safely taken through the diagnostic and repair procedure. No need to retrain a workforce when information becomes dated or obsolete. When new equipment is added to a facility, the system will be updated and all field workers will have the most current information. Workers just need to learn how to use the digital reality hardware, and they will be prepared for fieldwork. Less time will be spent in off-site training so productivity increases.
Takeaways on augmented reality training
Using Augmented Reality for training can also help alleviate a great deal of the cost and time loss associated with training employees. Few ways how you’ll save on training are:
- When you’re using Augmented Reality for training, you have incredible re-use potential.
- Instead of workers in training needing to occupy heavy machinery to learn the ropes, they can train on a virtual model.
- Augmented Reality allows for more imaginative training practices and less dependency on personnel.
With all the research and development of the technology, and more and more systems being designed to facilitate AR like Google Glass or the Microsoft invention HoloLens, Augmented Reality in training may be well on its way to becoming the future of corporate L&D as we know it. With tools like REWO, companies can get started with AR training today![:]