Today’s dynamic and changing manufacturing workforce needs continuous learning and performance support to effectively sustain and deliver effective on-the-job performance.

Continuous learning and workforce development for the industrial frontline workforce

Every day we hear about the growing “Skills Gap” associated with the industrial frontline workforce. The story is that 30% of workers are retiring in the near future and they are taking their 30+ years of tribal knowledge with them, creating the need to quickly upskill their more junior replacements. In an attempt to solve the knowledge gap issues, an entire generation of companies set out to build “Connected Worker” software applications, however, they all relied on the existing training, guidance, and support processes – the only true difference with this approach has been the creation of technology that takes your paper procedures and puts them on glass.

Along with tribal knowledge leaving, today’s workforce is also more dynamic and diverse than previous generations. The 30-year dedicated employees are no longer the norm. The average manufacturing worker tenure is down 17% in the last 5 years and the transient nature of the industrial worker is quickly accelerating. An outgrowth of the COVID pandemic brings forth the Great Resignation, where workers are quitting in record numbers, and worker engagement is down almost 20% in the last 2 years. 

This new workforce is changing in real-time – who shows up, what their skills are, what jobs they need to do, is a constantly moving target. The traditional “one size fits all” approach to training, guidance, and performance support is fundamentally incapable of enabling today’s workers to function at their individual peak of safety, quality and productivity. 

Digitizing work instructions is a great start to helping the skilled workers issue but alone, it won’t help completely solve the problem. We must go a step further to overcome the lack of a skilled and qualified manufacturing workforce. 

Enter the 2nd generation of Connected Worker software, one based on a data-driven, AI-supported approach that helps train, guide, and support today’s dynamic workforces by combining digital work instructions, remote collaboration, and advanced on-the-job training capabilities. 

These 2nd generation connected worker solutions are designed to capture highly granular data streaming from connected frontline workers. These platforms are built from the ground up on an artificial intelligence (AI) foundation. AI algorithms are ideal for analyzing large amounts of data collected from a connected workforce. AI can detect patterns, find outliers, cleanse data and find correlations and patterns that can be used to identify opportunities for improvement and creates a data-driven environment that supports continuous learning and performance support.

This approach aligns perfectly with the dynamic, changing nature of today’s workforce, and is ideally suited to support their 5 Moments of Need, a framework for gaining and sustaining effective on-the-job performance.

For example, Augmentir’s AI-powered connected worker platform leverages anonymized data from millions of job executions to significantly improve and expand its ability to automatically deliver in-app AI insights in the areas of productivity, safety, and workforce development. These insights are central to Augmentir’s True Proficiency™ scoring, which helps to objectively baseline each of your team members for their level of proficiency at every task so organizations can optimize productivity and throughput, intelligently schedule based on proficiency and skill-levels, and personalize the level of guidance and support to meet the needs of each member of the workforce.

This provides significant benefits to Augmentir customers, who leverage Augmentir’s AI in conjunction with the platform’s digital workflow and remote collaboration capabilities, allowing them to deliver continuous improvement initiatives centered on workforce development. These customers are able to utilize the insights generated from Augmentir’s AI to deliver objective performance reviews, automatically identify where productivity is lagging (or has the potential to lag), increase worker engagement, and deliver highly personalized job instructions based on worker proficiency.

Traditionally, there was a clear separation between training and work execution, requiring onboarding training to encompass everything a worker could possibly do, extending training time and leading to inefficiencies. Today, with the ability to deliver training at the moment of need, onboarding can focus on everything a worker will probably do, significantly reducing onboarding time. In one particular case, Bio-Chem Fluidics was able to reduce onboarding time for new employees by up to 80%, while simultaneously achieving a 21% improvement in job productivity across their manufacturing operation.

As workers become more connected, companies have access to a new rich source of activity, execution, and tribal data, and with proper AI tools can gain insights into areas where the largest improvement opportunities exist. Artificial Intelligence lays a data-driven foundation for continuous improvement in the areas of performance support, training, and workforce development, setting the stage to address the needs of today’s constantly changing workforce.

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As a leader in the connected worker software market, we have experienced the highs and the lows that the pandemic has brought to the industrial frontline worker market. One area that stands out in particular is the equipment field service space. Equipment OEMs typically support the installation, startup, maintenance, and repair of their products through […]

As a leader in the connected worker software market, we have experienced the highs and the lows that the pandemic has brought to the industrial frontline worker market. One area that stands out in particular is the equipment field service space. Equipment OEMs typically support the installation, startup, maintenance, and repair of their products through some combination of a direct service force, a dealer service network, or their customers. For sophisticated equipment, much of this work has required visits to the customer site, which was made virtually impossible when the COVID pandemic spread.   

This created a real problem, since the “instructions” available to support these services were designed for technicians that already knew how to perform the work.  OEMs had to quickly find a way to project some type of virtual presence, to mimic being on-site as closely as possible. 

This led to a rush to implement either industrial “remote expert” tools, enterprise collaboration products like Cisco Webex and Microsoft Teams, or consumer products like FaceTime.

While these solutions have been good at providing a short term band-aid to relieve the symptom, they don’t really address the underlying problem – the lack of rich, interactive workflows that are able to guide technicians with a wide range of skills to perform these tasks safely, correctly, and at an acceptable level of productivity. It’s a similar scenario to taking aspirin to treat a fever from an infection – aspirin may provide short-term relief, but ultimately it masks the presence and reduces the urgency to treat the underlying cause. Without looking forward and taking the next step in the connected worker journey, OEM’s will forever be required to provide 100%, synchronous, live support to make sure these tasks are done correctly and that customers are satisfied.

Achieving Digital Maturity to Reduce Support Costs and Improve Customer Satisfaction 

At Augmentir, we see “Digitally Mature” organizations as those that are continually moving forward on the digital continuum and have the ability to drive continuous improvement through the adoption of tools that help digitally connect their workforce. 

For equipment OEMs, we see digital maturity happening over four stages of the connected worker journey: 

Connected Worker Journey in Field Service

Step 1 – Remote Assistance

Industrial AR-based remote assistance solutions that provide worker guidance and support are a simple first step in the connected worker journey. Designed to be used by field service technicians or customers, these industrial solutions allow companies to provide rich interactive (chat, voice, video) support to field techs or customers to solve an immediate need.

Step 2 – Augmented, Guided Instructions 

With a connected workforce, equipment OEMs can drive greater efficiency by digitizing paper-based work instructions and maintenance/repair procedures. Digital work instructions help intelligently guide technicians (or customers) of all skill levels to complete these tasks independently and correctly. 

In this scenario, remote assist plays a supporting role (as it should) to ensure customer satisfaction. Customers have higher satisfaction rates because the work is done on their time schedule and OEMs see a reduction in their direct support costs.  

Step 3 – AI Support Bots

OEMs can drive further service optimization through AI support bots that provide autonomous, digital assistance.

Service technicians that require additional support can benefit from AI bots that autonomously deliver answers to questions, digital content such as drawings, pictures and videos, and rich sets of digital work instructions, to help workers resolve issues and complete the work independently. This allows a portion of customer remote assist requests to be handled autonomously, further increasing customer satisfaction and reducing direct support costs.

Augmentir Remote Assist for Field Service Technicians

Step 4 – AI-based Opportunity Insights

As workers become more connected, companies have access to a new rich source of activity, execution, and tribal data, and with proper AI tools, can gain insights into areas where the largest improvement opportunities exist for their service delivery. Artificial Intelligence lays a data-driven foundation for continuous improvement in the areas of productivity, quality, and workforce development, setting the stage to address the needs of a constantly changing workforce.

For example, after Augmentir is deployed for a number of months, our AI engine will start identifying patterns in the data that will allow you to focus your efforts on the areas that have the biggest customer satisfaction, productivity, and field service workforce development opportunities. This will allow you to answer questions such as:

  • Where should I invest to get the biggest improvement in customer satisfaction?
  • What service tasks have the largest productivity or quality opportunity?
  • Where would targeted training give me the biggest return?

Augmentir’s True Opportunity™ engine continuously updates its insights to enable companies to focus on their largest areas of opportunity, enabling you to deliver year over year improvements in key customer service metrics.

What is Your Digital Maturity?

Imagine, as you move forward on your connected worker journey, increasing customer satisfaction while reducing support costs, all while making your service delivery more productive – across your direct staff, dealers, or end customers.

Contact us today to take our digital maturity assessment and start your journey towards a digitally connected enterprise.

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