Skilled frontline employees are essential to a successful industrial enterprise. Their collective knowledge and hands-on experience are key differentiators when it comes to outperforming global competition. Today’s companies are investing in upskilling their workforces accordingly, but more training doesn’t necessarily translate to more expertise across the enterprise. Many employees are leaving their company after just a few years and taking those recently acquired skills out the door with them, causing companies to onboard new, untrained people as a result.
This revolving door of frontline employees is forcing businesses to modernize their training strategies with faster, innovative approaches to learning. As a visual medium that combines digital information with physical world context, augmented reality is quickly proving its value as a workforce training technology.
1. Offering on-demand training curriculum
New employees have a lot to learn before they can become independently productive. There are complicated processes, safeguards, and equipment that they must learn to use while on the job, which is why industrial companies traditionally create simulated offline work environments to train employees in a safe, risk-free zone. The downside is that offsite trainings are time-consuming, expensive, and ultimately mean that these employees are not making an impact on day to day business needs.
Augmented reality provides on-demand training experiences that employees can access from the convenience of any location. Real companies are using AR to visualize important aspects of work instructions, safety hazards, and machine components using mobile devices and smart glasses. As a result, those businesses are reducing operational costs and condensing training curriculums while promoting flexibility during onboarding.
2. Delivering real-time experiential learning
Hands-on training is important for frontline workers because it has been proven to help people learn faster and retain more information. Learning-by-doing is especially powerful for inexperienced employees, but the financial implication of potential mistakes makes it difficult to implement real-time in-situ training without a trusted expert or mentor present.
With AR3D work instructions, frontline employees can walk through any unfamiliar procedure or task and complete each step with more accuracy and precision. AR shows employees exactly what to do (as well as what not to do), so they can contribute more quickly without having to shadow someone that’s more senior. This means that employees can ramp up faster by doing more on-the-job training and make an impact on business needs sooner.
3. Utilizing SMEs for remote assistance and knowledge capture
Sometimes frontline employees run into issues or situations that weren’t ever covered in their training curriculum. Industrial equipment and its maintenance or repair gets more complex by the day, and most organizations simply can’t update their internal documentation or standard operating procedures fast enough. When this happens, frontline workers need immediate access to subject matter experts who can guide them through the correct motions and fill any knowledge gaps.
The visually interactive nature of AR makes it much easier to scale subject matter expertise to those who need it. Remote assistance applications offer frontline employees a direct line to someone with deep knowledge of the complex machinery where an issue has occurred. Using AR-enabled collaboration tools, experts can provide guidance and digital annotations on the real-world view of the frontline worker they are assisting.
Additionally, SMEs can use AR knowledge capture tools to quickly document hands-on procedures missing from their existing training curriculum. Businesses can implement new processes across the workforce much faster by using AR to capture step-by-step instructions in real-time without disrupting workflows. Subject matter experts can record and publish these AR experiences for employees in different facilities or regions, so they can replicate the original procedure quickly and effectively. Using AR to capture hands-on employee knowledge opens the door for new training efficiencies, while keeping expert employees on the frontline – where they have the most value.