Many manufacturers struggle to implement on-the-job training programs, as they draw skilled workers away from their tasks. It’s a major cost that some shop owners are not willing to incur.
What if they didn’t have to? What if a small device – a tablet perhaps – could walk new workers through the steps of repairing and setting up complex machinery, checking their work and offering the advice of a veteran machinist? The same technology could enable a skilled engineer to assist with repairs off-site or make quality control faster and more accurate. This technology is on the cusp of seeing mainstream adoption, and most are only familiar with it through Pokémon Go.
Enter Augmented Reality into Manufacturing
Augmented Reality (AR) refers to any technology that uses interfaces such as digital screens to assist in manual tasks. It may seem like a broad category, but the applications are very real. Take the example of on-the-job training. Rather than relying solely on a veteran team member to train a new hire, a shop owner can design an AR program to oversee, review and assist the hire in their duties. This training program can highlight objects and provide explanatory text and videos on the display screen, in addition to monitoring the hire for mistakes and alerting both the new worker and a supervisor of any problems or issues.
“The real benefit in AR-assisted training is that it eliminates a burden that is often placed on the more experienced personnel,” says Tim Shinbara, AMT Chief Technology Officer. “Instead of having the most productive workers in the shop step away from the line to train up-and-comers, the new worker can learn and grow into their role without slowing down production.” This significantly reduces the cost of training. Additionally, shop owners can design training modules to best fit their needs, and the pace of training can scale to match the abilities of the trainee.
And AR is not limited to training. Waiting for an OEM -licensed technician may not be necessary if an AR-assisted one can identify problems and go through step-by-step repairs through the AR display. Quality assurance can be both faster and more accurate with AR devices identifying flaws in seconds, and assembling parts is simple thanks to step-by-step assistance from an AR device.
It sounds a bit like science fiction, but the technology will be here faster than most think.