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Augmented reality can be the solution to the skilled labor shortage

Thomas Smolders
Resident Writer
Jack Dierckxsens
Business Developer

With unemployment rates going down and the continuing rising demand of skilled labor in the manufacturing industry, skilled labor shortage is a real challenge in the manufacturing industry. More and more job openings are getting unfulfilled and employers are complaining about a ‘skills-gap’. Workers often need a higher degree, specific technical skills and a better understanding of the machines they are working with.

The lack of skilled labor could impact an organisation in different ways:

  1. Higher burn-out rate: additional work will be carried out by the existing teams, making them work more hours and have more pressure
  2. Capacity suffers: there is a way to avoid the foregoing, but that will mean you have to lower the production capacity to make your employees more comfortable
  3. Less margins: due to the war for talent, your organisation will have to be more and more competitive when it comes to wages, salaries and benefits, this will of course have an impact on your company profits and margins

Enter Augmented Reality

Instead of investing heavily in recruitment campaigns and filling these open vacancies with highly skilled people, we could give a chance to people who have lesser expertise in a certain area by offering them more guidance using digital tools like Augmented Reality.

With augmented reality you can put a digital layer on the real world, using glasses, smartphones or tablets, and augment the user’s view on the real world.

AR displaying information about an industrial machine

People can get real-time information or be guided in step-by-step manuals, helping them perform certain tasks that are too difficult to be carried out by robots or machines. Here’s an example of a quick prototype we’ve created in-house that shows how an untrained person can be guided to perform maintenance tasks on a forklift (Editor’s note: of course in real life this wouldn’t be on a toy).

The application automatically recognizes the item, and in combination with machine learning, it could even be possible to detect certain abnormalities and irregularities, which can trigger or adapt the tasks to be performed.

If a person is stuck in their routine or encounters an edge case, they could be helped by remote assistance, giving them the abilities to talk with a more experienced employee through an augmented video call.

An engineer guiding from a distance through AR

This type of cases are particularly interesting for companies who have a lot of engineers on the road, losing much time travelling. This way, senior people can stay inside and guide more junior people who are on the field.

Interested in how this kind of technology can be applied in your business? We can help you with that! In our ‘roadmap to AR’ track, we help you identify the areas of opportunities within your organisation and rapidly create prototypes to validate with your customers or employees which application would help them work more accurate, better and faster.

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