Much has been made in recent years about manufacturers struggling to find enough qualified employees to fuel their organizations. The rise of automation has squeezed out simpler job tasks and shifted the labor need to more cutting-edge competencies that machines and artificial intelligence simply cannot yet perform without human alliance. The latest strategy companies are employing to fill in this gap is using augmented reality to help teach employees the advanced skills modern manufacturing is clamoring for.
Augmented reality (AR) uses a screen to display information that adds to the visual experience one would normally perceive. Remember that Angry Birds game that was all the rage last year? It’s the same concept, though we suspect the industrial application may progress society a bit further than collecting eggs and wiping the world of pigs. Well, we hope.
Manufacturers can use AR technology in the form of screens or glasses that direct employees with precision on how to perform a task, rather than relying on their current knowledge or interpretation of a handbook. The systems are designed to go at the worker’s own pace, and provide constant feedback to managers overlooking the process. The software can be updated on-the-fly as products are altered, and eliminates the need to learn skills that may be obsolete by the time employees move from the classroom to the factory floor. AR is a technology that serves not to replace employees, but instead empower them into producing what they or the technology itself, could not on their own.