People are the strength of an organization. The recent skills gap and high workforce turnover rates faced by many manufacturing and industrial enterprises are inhibiting their productivity and competitiveness. In this blog, we will discuss how the latest VR/AR solutions can help enterprises cost-effectively solve these challenges.
The Skills Gap and Transformation of Work
A study conducted by Deloitte & the Manufacturing Institute reveals that the skills gap may leave an estimated 2.4 million positions unfilled between 2018 and 2028 (Deloitte Study). Additionally, as the Fourth Industrial Revolution transforms the way we work, it is predicted that the new technologies driving this transformation (artificial intelligence, advanced robotics, automation, analytics, and the Internet of Things) are likely to create even more jobs than they replace. This transformation of work and increasing skills gap makes efficient training programs all the more important to ensuring future productivity and competitiveness.
Hands-On Training is Becoming Increasingly Cost Prohibitive
Physical training infrastructure, such as facilities, equipment, and the related travel and shipping costs, comprises about 40% of the average training budget for manufacturers. In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, as machines and facilities become more advanced, expensive, and specialized, this percentage is likely to increase. Onsite training means production must be paused or physical mock-ups must be built, neither is an appealing option. Moreover, traditional digital means such as training videos and slide decks can’t replace the hands-on training requirements of complex technical work. This means that we must look toward new technologies to help address the skills shortage.
How VR/AR Technologies Can Replace Hands-On Training
Many hands-on training programs can be cost-effectively virtualized by leveraging 3D digital assets that an organization already has access to, whether it’s CAD data from engineering or 3D scans from the facilities team. Existing videos and slide decks can be used as-is in virtual training, all while a trainee is interacting with the 3D digital models. If 3D content isn’t readily available within the enterprise, there exists several online marketplaces where models can be purchased at minimal cost. Even building a custom digital model from scratch can be more cost-effective than physical mock-ups.
Once the 3D content is on hand, many software solutions now enable non-programmers to develop complex immersive training modules without any coding. The same technicians, trainers, etc. who were building the original training program, can seamlessly create these new immersive training routines. Additionally, VR/AR solutions can now integrate directly into Learning Management Systems for uninterrupted and consistent tracking of training completion.
What are the Benefits of Deploying VR/AR Training?
VR/AR technologies offer the same cost-savings and efficiency benefits as the traditional digital tools (videos, slide decks, etc.) with the added benefit of being able to replicate many of the complexities and realism of hands-on training. It is often much more cost-effective to build a digital twin than to shut down production or build a physical mock-up. Moreover, VR/AR training can be used in training scenarios that are dangerous to physically perform such as in health, safety, and environment training. Finally, VR/AR training can reduce the overall workload on trainers, improve trainee knowledge retention, and increase reusability of training content.
Stay tuned next week for our blog discussing the different industrial training use cases for which virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are best suited.