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Bridging the Skills Gap in Manufacturing: How Augmented Reality Can Help

Since the arrival of the industrial revolution more than 150 years ago, manufacturing has been a vital component of economic growth and job creation. Historically, the manufacturing industry has had no problem attracting a consistent supply of skilled workers to fill factories.

But a changing economy, social norms and an aging workforce has altered the manufacturing landscape over the past decade, causing a shortage of new workers and a gap in skills needed to fill empty positions. Companies are finding it increasing difficult to attract, retain and develop the next generation of talent.

In fact, 82% of today’s manufacturers report a moderate or severe shortage of skilled workers, according to a report by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute. It is projected that by 2025 the manufacturing skills gap is expected to account for 2 million unfulfilled jobs.

And, contrary to popular perceptions, technological disruption is the key to solving the skilled labor shortage. According to a new report from the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, technological innovation could actually support job creation and retention, while accelerating productivity.

Here at OPS Solutions, we believe technological advancements – like augmented reality – can be combined with human intelligence to aid job creation and retention in manufacturing.


Manufacturing Skills Gap, Meet Augmented Reality

In response to the manufacturing skills gap, companies have begun investing in enterprise AR solutions, like LightGuide Systems, to attract young talent, reduce ramp-up time during training and boost quality and consistency on the factory floor.


Training Manufacturing Talent with AR

Since more sophisticated and technical methods of learning are required in manufacturing fields like automotive, medical, aviation and oil & gas, AR technology can prove invaluable as skilled workers retire and new trainees seek guidance.

Before the grandfathered experience of the current manufacturing workforce disappears, LightGuide Systems can capture that unique knowledge and integrate it into a visually driven projector-based AR learning system for a new generation.

While instructor-led training is commonly used on the factory floor, the ramp-up time can be quite lengthy, and there is often high variation in regard to the outcome of the process. This inconsistent execution can potentially result in significant long-term losses.

Projector-based AR solutions drastically reduce ramp-up time for new hires by overlaying a “digital canvas” onto a physical workspace, and walking workers through even the most technical tasks step by step. This visual “guard rail” keeps workers fully engaged in their task, and induces a repetitive and consistently repeatable outcome.

The bottom-line results generated by AR can be significant. Users have documented a 90% reduction in errors and a 40-50% reduction in cycle time when operators use LightGuide Systems in place of traditional work instructions.


Attracting Manufacturing Talent with AR

Now more than ever, younger generations can choose from hundreds of different career options, increasing competition for recruiters in the manufacturing sector. But companies are starting to see a shift in appeal as they adopt new technologies, like manufacturing 3.0, augmented reality and gamification.

By integrating technologies that younger demographics are more familiar with, manufacturers have an easier time attracting prospective talent.


Interested in learning more about augmented reality and how it can be used to bridge the skills gap in your organization? Send us a message.