Manufacturing is the backbone of many industries and economies, yet it has been facing a skills gap for some time now. As technology continues to advance, manufacturing companies are looking for innovative ways to bridge that gap and keep their processes running efficiently. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (AR) can be powerful tools in addressing this issue by providing an accessible platform to access an expansive pool of experts and for training and development of their existing team members.
What is the Skills Gap?
A skills gap occurs when there is a mismatch between what employers need in terms of skills and what job seekers bring to the table. For instance, many employers need workers who are proficient in technology but struggle to find such individuals. This mismatch can be attributed to many factors, including rapidly evolving industry demands, changing job requirements, and the retirement of experienced workers. The most significant consequence of this gap is difficulty in filling job vacancies, which can be detrimental to the economy.
Bridging the Skills Gap: Understanding the Factors That Cause It
The manufacturing skills gap is a growing concern and it is important to understand the factors that contribute to it. Here are the top three causes of the skills gap.
One of the leading causes of the manufacturing industry skills gap is the retirement of skilled workers. Many baby boomers who have been working in the manufacturing industry for decades are now retiring, and they take with them years of valuable knowledge and experience. These retirements leave a void in the existing workforce as younger generations are not filling those positions at the same rate.
In order to combat this issue, employers can develop apprentice programs that give younger workers the opportunity to learn from experienced workers and gain the necessary skills for the job.
Challenges With Traditional Training Methods
Another contributing factor to the skills gap is the inadequacy of traditional training methods. Today, workers cannot afford to take extended periods of time off of work to be trained. The traditional “classroom-style” training is no longer practical or effective. Employers need to develop new and innovative on-the-job training methods that can be easily incorporated into the manufacturing workforce. This can be achieved through online learning platforms, mobile apps, and interactive training modules.
Perceptions Related to the Manufacturing Industry
Lastly, many people inaccurately associate manufacturing jobs with low-paying and unskilled work. However, the reality is that today’s manufacturing jobs are high-tech, require a great deal of skill and knowledge, and pay well. It is crucial to change these perceptions and make more people aware of the benefits of working in the manufacturing industry. Employers can do this by offering tours of their facilities, participating in career fairs and events, and offering internships and apprenticeship programs.
Exploring the Top 4 Ways Companies are Using AI and AR to Address Operational Needs and the Skills Gap
The use of cutting-edge technology, such as AI and AR, is transforming the way businesses operate across different sectors. Companies are leveraging these tools to drive efficiency, enhance productivity, and offer an enhanced customer experience. Here are top 4 ways in which companies are using AI and AR to revolutionize their operations.
The adoption of AI and AR technology is streamlining the assembly processes in manufacturing facilities. The use of smart glasses and head-mounted displays has made it possible for workers to receive instructions on the assembly line, allowing them to complete tasks with precision and speed. This technology is also reducing the instances of errors, which can often lead to costly delays and even damage to the product. Moreover, the use of AI algorithms is enabling companies to optimize assembly line production, creating a more efficient and effective process.
Companies are using AI and AR technology to improve inspection processes, particularly those in manufacturing facilities and construction sites. The use of portable devices, such as tablets and smartphones, equipped with AI-enabled applications, can help workers perform inspections with a higher level of accuracy. These applications are capable of identifying defects, measuring tolerances, and conducting quality checks. For example, Airbus uses smart glasses to increase the reliability of the recorded information and cut down on administration time.
Furthermore, the use of AR technology supports visualization, allowing inspectors to overlay digital instructions and reference materials directly on-site and simplify complicated inspection processes. This removes ambiguity and problems with communication, reduces errors, and speeds up the inspection process.
AI and AR are empowering companies to offer fast and efficient support, even in remote areas. By using AR-enabled mobile devices and head-mounted displays, companies are able to offer remote assistance to workers in the field, enabling them to have digital overlays and real-time visual assistance. This technology makes it possible for field workers to receive expert assistance, irrespective of their location, reducing downtime for the product or workflow systems. For example, Verizon uses smart glasses to increase accuracy and decrease time on site.
Finally, Industries like utilities, oil and gas, and renewable energy are significantly enhancing fieldwork support and experience by leveraging this technology.
AI and AR have revolutionized the way companies conduct staff training sessions across industries. The use of AR-enabled applications provides existing employees with immersive training experiences, enabling them to acquire skills with more efficiency and precision. The technology provides a platform for employees to interact with virtual objects and simulate real-life scenarios. The incorporation of AI algorithms into the training process generates a highly adaptive system that can cater to the individual learning pace. The use of such technologies is also capable of reducing the overall training time, ultimately driving cost savings for the company.
How NewForge helps the manufacturing industry
NewForge Knowledge Place is a revolutionary new online marketplace that bridges the gap between industries in need of specialized knowledge and experts with that knowledge using the power of AR, AI, and smart glasses.
How does it work?
End users simply create an account and search through a digital database of experts in their field. They can then schedule a call with an expert for remote help anywhere in the world, in real-time.
Using the unique AR software for calls, experts can not only see the issue but give clear and concise remote help.
NewForge Knowledge Place also provides Expert AI, a powerful generative AI tool that allows users to get quick troubleshooting answers and easily generate work instructions. NewForge Knowledge Place brings industries the expertise they need when they need it, reducing their downtime, and increasing their ROI.
What sets NewForge Knowledge Place apart from other solutions?
NewForge Knowledge Place is set apart from other maintenance solutions by its unique AR approach. Remote assistance using AR allows an expert to provide help without physically being there.
Many industries turn to video calls on smartphones and tablets for remote assistance; however, their software and hardware aren’t specialized to the industry like smart glasses and NewForge Knowledge Place’s unique software.
Smart glasses allow users to take calls hands-free, meaning the person on the other line can see what you’re doing the entire time. The camera sits in line with a user’s eyes, giving the call a virtual over-the-shoulder experience. No more setting down a phone during a call or having a camera point in the wrong direction.
On top of that, NewForge Knowledge Place’s specialized software makes getting help clear and direct.
Bühler Case Study
The Bühler Group, a global supply chain company, successfully implemented the use of AI and Augmented Reality technology to address their skills gap. The results showed that they experienced many benefits such as an increase in efficiency by 35%, savings of up to $30k per day, a reduction in travel expenses by 55%, and customer satisfaction levels increased by 22%. This implementation has allowed Bühler to utilize the potential of AI and AR technology to bridge their skills gap, benefitting the company as a whole.
By leveraging AI and AR, manufacturers can provide more effective training and development opportunities for current and future employees while minimizing disruption to operations. Ultimately, this could result in improved product quality, better customer experiences, and increased productivity. With the right implementation strategies, AI and AR can be powerful weapons in closing the skills gap and helping manufacturing companies move into the future.
Do you want to learn more about the benefits of AI and AR in the manufacturing industry? Contact one of our specialists today!