AR & VR
AR & VR for Field Service Solutions to Bridge the Knowledge Gap
If we look at the number 1 challenge at an industrial level as far as the field service is concerned, it is majorly to do with the considerable knowledge gap existent between the new generation employees and the aging workforce which includes the veteran operators, technicians, and managers at a field-level. According to one research, in the US alone 10,000 baby boomers (aged above 56 years roughly) turn 65 years of age each day. It is forecasted that this trend will continue until 2030.
Field service technicians who are getting in the baby boomer stage are retiring in large numbers which results in considerable challenges for the organizations to maintain the same level of service operations while hiring new generation technicians. According to one news report, it states that 73% of the organizations feel that aging workforce is a potential threat to maintain consistency in their field-level service operations. And further to back this claim, 48% of the field service organizations feel that the aging workforce threat is a genuine bottleneck to their service operations.
PERSISTENT INCREASE IN THE KNOWLEDGE GAP
There has been a continuous increase in the levels of knowledge gap arising due to the aging workforce. This is especially critical in the field service operations as there are potential safety threats that could lead to hazards in cases of any violations on account of lack of new technicians being capable enough to handle the tasks at hand. This could in turn cause tremendous losses to businesses, and not give a health picture to the stakeholders as well.
There are many red flags to the way field service operators conduct their daily routines in a traditional setup. They hardly have any interactions with their peers, and mostly work in silos. In the case of traditional operational setup, most of the best practices are left undocumented, and to worsen it, their trainings also are conducted at an individual level. They miss out on the factor of how to work as a cohesive unit in a group, and this in turn causes the knowledge gap to increase as there are only limited interactions taking place. And when the technicians retire, the gap is sustained as there are no proper knowledge transfer processes that take place.
RESOURCE CONSTRAINTS: LACK OF SKILLED WORKERS
Further to worsen the situation new hiring becomes tough for the organization as they are unable to match the same level of skill sets from the newcomers when compared to a veteran technician who has just retired. According to a news article, 54% of the companies globally face skilled talent shortage. In an ever-increasing landscape of the technology-enabled world and at the outset of digital transformation, there is a huge demand for people with the skill sets needed to maintain smooth workflows at an industrial level. According to another report by Manpower Group, roles such as mechanics, operators, welders, engineers, technicians, safety operators, and drivers, etc. were found to be very hard to fill in through recruitments.
LACK OF EFFICIENT TRAINING METHODOLOGIES
There is a dire need for the organizations to develop a smooth onboarding process for the newcomers while also having effective training courses conducted to upgrade the skillsets of the technicians already working in the organization from time to time.
Along with that, there is a lack of efficient training processes being established between the interactions of an experienced engineer guiding the less-experienced field technicians to troubleshoot any bottleneck caused in the plant.
On top of it, the lack of visually appealing content makes it difficult for the technician to understand complex tasks at work which could potentially involve critical operations and the proper know-how. The dependence on 2D content in the form of paperwork makes it harder for the technicians to optimally perform with the limited know-how of operations involve different equipment.
HOW AR & VR ARE BRIDGING THE KNOWLEDGE GAP
With AR for instance technicians can now receive guidance in the form of step-by-step instructions right from their mobile application while scanning different equipment involved in the unit operations. AR-enabled guidance systems are popular in various industries such as Automotive, Automobile, Oil & Gas, Pharmaceuticals, FMCG, Power & Utilities, and including a host of other industries.
Workers can now instead of carrying manuals directly use their AR-enabled smart glasses to be guided step-by-step for any troubleshooting process and can now get to gage the operational performance for any part of the plant process at ease.
Through VR, technicians can no immerse in a virtual environment and learn effectively, by following the learn-by-doing methodology. It is widely accepted that 70% of the learning takes place on the job, and with VR-enabled learning modules the learners can increase their retention span
With AR-enabled remote assistance technology you can now tackle the challenge of aging workforce while also ensuring optimal workflows on the plant floor for any troubleshooting process. At the same time, you can now tackle the challenge of how to train the younger technicians/operators joining the workforce rather seamlessly.
As the veteran technicians are nearing their retirement, they don’t get to actively participate in the field service operations and rather move into back-office work regimes. Subsequently, as the organizations become more and more reliant on outsourced activities even involving field service operations, it becomes tougher to manage these extra resources while ensuring that productivity is not compromised. There is an increase in demand for skilled veterans to guide these younger generation technicians and those technicians who are outsourced in terms of aligning with the organization’s process flows. The remote assistance tools help these skilled technicians smartly guide the less experienced technicians through virtual augmentations wherein the less experienced technicians on the field can interact with the equipment where there is a problem and can interact with the senior technicians remotely with features such as 2-way annotations, video recording, and sharing tools, AI Chatbot for quick resolution, etc. The senior technician then guides the field technician step-by-step to troubleshoot any bottleneck or while trying to understand complex process flows in the plant by simply pointing to any equipment through the smartphone. This helps in fixing the knowledge gap between the less-experienced technicians and the senior technicians while also tackling the challenge of the aging workforce.
Multi-user collaboration also comes in handy wherein multiple users can engage with each other trying to solve challenges in the workplace.
INTERACTIVE & EFFICIENT AR-VR ENABLED TRAINING PROGRAMS
There is a way out for organizations to solve the challenge of the aging workforce while ensuring that the knowledge gap is lessened to a great extent. Instead of going the traditional way and getting involved in paper-led training pedagogy, organizations can now leverage the AR-VR technologies which have a great application in smart training programs. Organizations can now make themselves Industry 4.0 ready while embracing the digital transformation brought by AR-VR led training solutions.
Organizations can now create their custom courses for their field service agents, with already existing course modules in process safety, maintenance and repair, troubleshooting, etc.
Senior technicians can now create courses at ease and transfer the knowledge effectively to the younger workforce joining the organization. At the same time, it prolongs the tenure for the aging workforce wherein there substantially provide value to the organizations in terms of training the younger workforce. It is a win-win for all the stakeholders.
This also helps in being able to remotely train the workforce on-the-job while reducing significant traveling costs, and at the same time improving operational efficiency in the long run.
“Mr. Jeremy Bailenson, a Distinguished Professor from Stanford, discovered that Learners Retain 33% More Information from VR than through Standard Video Formats”
KNOWLEDGE BASE – REPOSITORY FOR EVERY SOLUTION
Every interaction and training in AR-VR is equipped with the “saving” video wherein you get to:
- Save videos
- Save images
- Save process flow diagrams
- Upload manuals in suitable formats like PDF or can make it interactive through the guidance of experts
- Record online sessions and on-site process flows and critical operations
Apart from this, you get access to a vast library of already created virtual assets to customize and create your course.
All these features provided by AR-VR technologies and effectively called immersive XR content library, can come in handy for organizations to organize their training needs and gage the performances of the learners at the same time. The technicians can now at any given point in time refer to old case studies or bottleneck challenges that may be similar in nature to the challenge he/she would be trying to solve. Even remote assist tools can leverage the old repository to provide quick and effective solutions faced by the field service technicians.
So to summarize, with AR and VR enabled technologies in the form of XR solutions, organizations can now:
- Indulge in Smart Training they can now boost the productivity of their workforce, speed up the knowledge transfer process, reduce fix rates significantly for the field service technicians
- Ensure profitability organizations can now reduce their expenses in both training and operations. They can now even minimize travel costs involved in the remote agents solving the challenges by reporting on-field.
- Enable quicker decision making with AR-VR led technologies all the stakeholders in the company can now fast-track any bottleneck issues and quickly resolve the challenges in faster time-frames
- Tackle the challenge of aging workforce organizations can now use these technologies to their advantage and address the challenge of aging workforce while addressing the knowledge gap issues with use-cases such as remote assistance, multi-user collaboration, and smart training. At the same time, they can address the challenge of hiring skilled workers as AR-VR led technologies are known for enhancing the learning curve significantly