AR/VR aids training in manufacturing

Oct. 23, 2020

In this podcast, Amanda Del Buono interviews Dirck Schou, CEO of Taqtile, about the use of augmented and virtual reality for training in the manufacturing industry. The following is an excerpt from the interview. Read the full transcript here: 


Amanda: I wanted to start out by asking you what you're seeing with manufacturers implementing the technology, is it still few and far between? Are more people using it? We talk about it so often, but how common is AR/VR really in the industry?

Dirck: Sure. Well, I think that there's been a number of reports done recently that at least the manufacturers that have been queried on this, which probably tend to be on the larger side, very close to all of them are looking at this technology. Now, there's a difference between looking at it and implementing it. The fact is that implementation involves large changes to the way that workers do their job oftentimes. So, rolling out of this technology can take many months or, even up to a year or even longer to fully implement it. But without question, we are seeing a large number of manufacturers starting to look at this technology. And as more of those folks start to look at it, we start to see production use cases come out of the back end, and those are accelerating.

Amanda: All right. So, then for those who aren't buying in yet, whether it is for economic reasons or implementation issues, why should they be considering the technology? What are the ROI benefits of it that may overcome these hesitancies that people are having?

Dirck: Yeah. I mean, there are a number of drivers of this technology. The first of those drivers really has to do with the graying of the workforce, right? We have a very highly skilled set of workers who are wanting to wind down their careers and you don't have nearly enough younger people coming into this space. The whole mantra of, go to college, earn a better living, that sort of a sales pitch has been successful, although as many folks are seeing, is not all it's stacked up to be. But the fact is that we know that there are, over the next 5 years and 10 years, the aging workforce population of experts are going to be retiring and just not enough new people are coming in. The manufacturers are being forced to look for ways to very quickly ramp up the operational capability of the new workers. So, companies are thinking about training differently. They're also needing to enable different types of workers in different systems. Modern manufacturers have never been more connected. There's this whole category referred to as IoT or the Internet of Things that basically is sensors that allows plant managers to understand better what's going on in the plant and giving frontline workers access to that information in many cases in a hands-free mode, it's very important. And it's also very enabling for the workers.

The way that I look at modern AR/VR technology is, really, as the knowledge worker has been doing for the last 30 years. Their jobs have changed and have been made easier and different because of digital transformative tools. Let's just start with Microsoft Office and Outlook, right? Knowledge workers now, they sit at their desks and their job is on the computer. It's no longer pen and paper and that sort of thing. And that has become the digital transformation for the modern knowledge worker, but the frontline worker in a manufacturer, they have not had the benefit of these transformative tools, but because they have to use their hands in their job, right? So, if you can't hold something, if you're not sitting at a desk while you're doing your job, there has been no tools for you until when it's sort of the modern augmented reality headset for that matter. And that sort of digital transformation, that tool is going to change the job and the capability of the frontline worker in ways that we can't even imagine over the next 10 years.

For more, tune into the Manufacturing Tomorrow's Workforce podcast.