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Smart Skills Management software is helping manufacturers bridge the gap between training, skills, and work to build a more resilient and agile workforce.

Where are you on your journey with adopting new and emerging technologies? Many manufacturers are jumping on the bandwagon for some of the latest tools that provide visibility on the productivity of workers. Maybe you decided to implement digital work instructions to help workers safely and efficiently perform tasks independently. Or maybe you’ve bought skills management software to help you catalog and organize the skills and capabilities of different workers. But are either of these enough on their own to achieve all your production goals? Possibly, but unlikely.

Digital work instructions on their own deliver standard work guidelines but fail to consider the unique skills of each worker. Standalone skills management programs may offer a highlight reel of the skills and certifications of your workers but neglect to capture performance in real-time to provide accurate skills evaluations. Nor do they offer personalized training content needed to ensure workers perform their absolute best. Can we agree then these two features should go hand-in-hand?

One cannot exist without the other: Blending skills management and digital work instructions

In the past, standalone skills management systems were sufficient because:

  • Turnover was infrequent so line supervisors knew everyone on their team and their current skills and endorsements, making it easy for the supervisor to assign work safely and optimally
  • Investments in training, reskilling, and upskilling were performed either in a one size fits all approach or through a purely subjective or anecdotal approach

Today, however, a different situation exists.

Line supervisors are dealing with team members that they don’t know well, new ones starting every day, and experienced ones leaving.  This creates safety issues and makes optimally assigning work difficult as not only are the workers variable, but their skill levels and certifications are a constantly moving target.

An integrated, closed-loop skills management system is the solution for this era of high workforce turnover and absenteeism.

 

skills and work

 

Skills management solutions that combine skills tracking capabilities with connected worker technology and on-the-job digital guidance can deliver significant additional value. Data from actual work performance can inform workforce development initiatives allowing you to target your training, reskilling, and upskilling efforts where they have the largest impact.

It can generate an abundance of valuable data to provide tailored training support and skills endorsements and identify workforce opportunities. What else is possible? Imagine reducing training costs, optimizing job scheduling, increasing safety, and improving productivity. And now consider what will happen when you add smart technology to this all-in-one package.

 

intelligently assign jobs

The power of smart digitization! Skills management and digital work instructions together boost productivity.

Connected worker solutions that combine skills management with digital work instructions, collaboration, and knowledge management are uniquely suited to optimize today’s variable workforce. AI-generated insights are pulled from patterns identified across all work activity in real-time. These insights identify where new and experienced workers may benefit from either reskilling or upskilling.

This combination of smart digital technology can also leverage your training resources, such as instructional videos, written instructions, or access to remote experts, to deliver personalized guidance for the worker to perform their best. These tools intelligently work together to help you assign workers to procedures based on required skill levels. No second guessing! Augmentir is the only smart connected worker solution to intertwine these management tools with AI making it a powerhouse for optimizing your operations and meeting production targets.

 

 

Learn how Smart Skills Management software is helping manufacturers bridge the gap between training, skills, and work to build a more resilient and agile workforce.

Download our latest eBook – The Future of Work: Connecting Skills Management with Standard Work.

 

AI-powered technology may be the missing puzzle piece for today’s workforce crisis.

AI-powered technology may be the missing puzzle piece for today’s workforce crisis in manufacturing.

 

Is it just us or does recruiting, training, and retaining top talent today feel a lot like searching for that one elusive puzzle piece? 

The seismic shift in the workforce is forcing us to get creative and be adaptable like never before. We can no longer try to force fit the old model of staffing and training into a space that looks drastically different. It’s not just about a labor shortage or the supply chain challenges created by the pandemic. Workers themselves are changing. What they want from work, and how they want to work. 

It’s a new generation and if we want to remain competitive in hiring in this ultra-competitive environment, we need to embrace the variable nature of the labor market and meet workers where they are. 

The solution to this head-scratching puzzle? AI-based technology. Digital work instructions and individualized training and on-the-job support can improve productivity, reliability, independence, and safety for every worker. It offers flexibility in scheduling for operations managers. It reduces downtime. All of which contribute to a more efficient – and profitable – operation.

Sound too good to be true? Brace yourselves. It’s not. Here are three ways that AI-powered technology can help.

1. Moving onboarding and training closer to the point of work

Imagine if we can teach someone in the context of doing their work. We could see an increase in productivity as they constantly evolve their learnings.

AI is allowing companies to understand a worker’s skillset and provides the ability for personalized digital work instructions to guide them in the context of work while they are doing their job, whether it’s a new worker or one with dozens of years of experience. With an AI-based onboarding approach, organizations are able to hire a wider range of individuals with varying skill sets and get those individuals productive faster.

2. Give support at the moment of need

Are you a people watcher? We are. Ever take notice of who is on the factory floor? Last time I checked, we got the “newbies” and “veterans”. The variability of the workforce, both skilled and young, proves that there’s not a one size fits all approach to troubleshooting and performance support.

Enter AI.

Give workers the support and guidance they need, at the moment of need, whether it’s immediate access to a digital troubleshooting guide, or connecting virtually with a subject matter expert.  Delivering personalized work procedures for every worker allows for continuous learning and growth.

3. Improve engagement and retention

Workers that are connected and empowered with digital technology can discover and nurture diverse skills based on their unique competencies and experience. They can earn greater responsibility and independence. This increases confidence and job satisfaction. Which in turn can improve employee retention and slow the revolving door of continual recruiting and training. 

The aftermath?

Workers are likely to stay and want to grow in the company when they feel included. Shortly, workers begin walking with poise and a “can-do” attitude to their next job task.

 

What else is possible with AI-powered connected worker technology?

AI-based technology is ideal for training workers in this variable environment. AI-based systems individualize information about workers based on previous training and data-driven performance insights. It offers step-by-step guidance at the moment of need for regularly scheduled maintenance as well as troubleshooting. It helps managers learn about workers’ existing skills and build a rationale for specific roles, resources, and certification support and then make clear recommendations based on demands.

Technology should fit into your business as simply as sliding that last puzzle piece into place. Workers are the heart of your business, and you should adapt techonogy to fit your business, not the other way around.

Technology should fit into your business as simply as sliding that last puzzle piece into place. That includes how you train your workers. But no two workers are exactly alike. Each will learn and approach problems differently. So why not use the technology that recognizes and adapts to those differences to your advantage?

 

To learn more about how Augmentir can help you embrace this opportunity, contact us for a personalized demo.

AI-powered technology may be the missing puzzle piece for today’s workforce crisis.

Are you still printing work instructions and operating manuals? If so, we need to have a serious chat! Maybe you invested in “going digital” a while back and think your work is done. You’re not alone. It was considered “groundbreaking” when PDF files made their way to the factory floor. 

The first generation of digital work instructions were birthed after learning 46 percent of field technicians claimed paperwork and administrative tasks were the worst part of their day-to-day job. No argument here. Completing and filing paperwork is time-consuming and there is potential for lost information. There was an obvious upside to going digital, except for no longer being able to tell your supervisor that your dog ate your worker performance report. 

But even now that technology is ready for the archives. An estimated $1.3 trillion (and counting!) has been spent on digital transformation initiatives as the online connected workplace and market continue to move at a rapid pace. 

We are no fortune tellers, but studies show that 25 to 31 percent of 3.3. million business service jobs will be automated in the next decade. This doesn’t mean everyone is being replaced by robots. On the contrary. It means technology is improving to help workers do their jobs even better. Manufacturing companies need to be prepared to hop on this next-generation train if they aren’t already.

Move over one-size-fits-all training and work instructions 

The individualized, real-time, connected worker platform is here. Let us emphasize individualized. Connected worker platforms are being implemented in myriad industries, from automotive to food processing. Any industry which is adapting daily to the constant shifts and pressures of the global economy. Regardless of the industry, standard digital work instructions are no longer effective. They do not reflect the real-time changes happening in the operation, such as order fulfilment and materials inventory, or equipment maintenance needs and the capabilities of the workers operating the machines. Imagine working on the manufacturing floor for five years and handed with the same standardized work instructions as the new hire.

Does this make sense? Not anymore. Not when AI-based technology is changing what’s possible. And what’s different about this latest wave of technology that makes it so special? It’s built around optimizing the performance of people (Gasp.)

Change is inevitable. Growth is optional. – John C. Maxwell

A marriage made in heaven–the next generation of workers is ready for a digitally connected workplace

Recruiting and retaining talented workers is one of the greatest challenges facing operations today. We get it. But there’s good news. As one generation of workers readies for retirement, another is stepping up to fill the gap. Gen Z is overflowing with talented innovators in the tech world having grown up surrounded by non-stop advancements and devices. Need one of them to look somebody up in the phone book? Forget it. But need assistance when your home computer suddenly “dies”? These are your people. 

It’s more than video games. Their education has been largely based on a digital foundation. Nearly every function of their daily lives has an element of connectivity to the broader online world. You could say this generation is hardwired to respond best to customized digital learning platforms. It’s their love language. And so the potential to drastically improve productivity is real.

The beauty of the digitally connected worker–could they be “the One”?

The digitally connected worker has all the right stuff for a long-lasting relationship with your operation. The digital training and work instruction platform holds their unique inventory of skills, goals, and performance history, and works with them to become a better version of themselves on the floor. Workers whose individual needs are supported are better, more engaged employees. They have the self-confidence – as well as the tools and specific instructions – to address problems head on when they arise. An investment in AI-powered technology is an investment in a stable, adaptable, and reliable workforce.

Are you and your workforce ready to take this next step in digitization? Contact Augmentir to start the conversation. Together let’s step into the full potential that this generation has to offer to improve your operational efficiency.

Augmentir’s take on the trending Workforce Institute’s staggering survey numbers.

Everyone is talking about it. The skilled labor shortage. It’s not a temporary problem. It’s here to stay. So instead of panicking and trying to use the same old strategies to identify, recruit and retain the increasingly rare skilled and experienced worker, let us present a different way of looking at the labor challenge. Spoiler alert: we see opportunity!

But first, let’s unpack some recent survey findings about the labor market. 

According to a survey by the Workforce Institute, a whopping 87 percent of manufacturers are feeling the ramifications of the lack of skilled labor, including staff misalignment along the production lines, burnout, and supply chain disruption. 

Finding workers with the right skills, education and certifications can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack–hopeless and painful. The shrinking talent pool is forcing companies to rehire former employees who previously quit with limited skills or individuals with no manufacturing experience; it probably feels like the only viable option for production survival.

Where do you start with this new variable workforce? Standardized training programs? Excel spreadsheets for tracking and monitoring? These methods pose a concern for all workers on your production lines, regardless of their experience or skill set. Who needs what training? Who is responsible for tracking productivity and capturing relevant data? How confident are you in endorsing skills and assigning production teams with limited or imprecise information?

The old way would have led to panic. Today, there’s a better, smarter way. Today’s variable workforce in the manufacturing world is perfectly suited to adopt smart technology that will reduce, if not eliminate, the challenges associated with the labor shortage. Remember that thing we said about opportunity? Here it is.

Stay calm and carry on: smart digital tech can have an immediate and direct impact on learning about and managing worker skills.

Imagine if you could learn about a worker’s skills by tracking their performance in real time, immediately deliver training resources tailored to them based on their proficiency and certifications and then match them confidently to a production team where they’ll make a meaningful contribution. Sound like wishful thinking? It’s not.

Smart connected worker technology can collect data on worker patterns by tracking their performance journeys. It pulls relevant resources from the company inventory to deliver customized training programs. With the right training in place workers are engaged and feel safe while performing tasks. And, your teams are equipped to meet productivity goals.

The labor shortage is just a statistic. A smart connected worker suite is the solution.

Augmentir’s smart connected worker suite closes the gap between training and worker execution. Digitized instruction and skills management programs display and organize workers’ proficiencies based on levels of expertise. AI-driven insights monitor and easily match workers with procedures by assigning skills criteria. This proprietary Smart AI technology intelligently prompts workers for continuous training and accurately identifies appropriate skills endorsements to managers, helping them create better production lines. It’s the only solution of its kind on the market.

Kylene Zenk, Director of the Manufacturing Practice at UKG sees opportunity, too:

“If you can offer training or can tailor a job to meet candidates’ flexible qualifications, filling open headcount becomes more realistic in a tight labor market.”

We couldn’t agree more. Find out more about how and why manufacturers are taking smarter approaches to building a strong talent pipeline with Augmentir. Contact us for a demo today.

Augmentir’s take on the trending Workforce Institute’s staggering survey numbers.

Do you remember when offshoring–the outsourcing of production internationally–was once considered the “gold standard” for manufacturers because of reduced costs? Funny how things change. We can partly thank the global pandemic for this. Reshoring, also referred to as ‘onshoring’,  is now the way to go–the apparent panacea to supply chain disruptions and a healthier economy. This should have manufacturers cheering and dancing in the streets, right? Not so fast. We’ve also got a massive labor shortage to deal with. But don’t fret. There are solutions to be found, and they happen to exist in software tools already being embraced by organizations on their journey to digital transformation.

The perks and pressures of reshoring

If your organization isn’t already thinking about reshoring its operations, maybe you should be. Reshoring for manufacturers means greater resiliency, agility, and sustainability by shortening the distances between process and delivery. Less travel means reduced emissions and adherence to ESG standards. Reshoring addresses issues associated with shipping costs, lead times, and new regulations. Working in familiar markets can help identify supply and demand trends more accurately. National employment rates are likely to increase when hiring residents and working with other domestic business partners.

But labor shortages and the variability of today’s workforce have not made reshoring an easy shift. So while there is tremendous opportunity to bring production home, the lack of affordable and skilled labor is having a tremendous impact on our domestic production capacity.

Here’s how you make onshoring work for you. First, stop thinking the old way of recruiting, training, and retaining workers will still work today.

Work with what you’ve got

What’s wrong with training today? Yes, training programs can help improve worker knowledge and skills development. But only if they are meeting the unique needs of individual workers with content-rich, high-impact learning and hands-on training programs. Forget those standard training programs–they are useless in the face of the variable workforce we have available today. The workers you can find are showing up with a mixed bag of experience and skills. That doesn’t have to be a disadvantage anymore. Because there is a smarter way to train and optimize the skills of each of those workers to meet productivity goals individually and fulfill the potential for your organization’s production capacity.

Smart digitization is the ticket to effective onboarding, training, and more–from hire to retire

“The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates

This new era of workforce instability is forcing manufacturers to change. It’s forcing them to turn to digital technology and look at smarter ways to hire, onboard, train, and retain their workers. At Augmentir, we call this Smart Digitization.

What do we mean by ‘smart’ digitization? Smart digitization involves adopting modern, digital tools, mobile technology, and supporting workers throughout their entire lifecycle.

smart digitization throughout worker lifecycle

 

Modern connected worker tools are at the core of the solution that supports workers throughout their employment, from training to troubleshooting in real-time to ongoing learning and development. If you look at the entire employee lifecycle, this means:

  1. Using software tools to digitize and automate onboarding and skills tracking to help get workers operational faster, regardless of their skill and experience.
  2. Once on the job, digitizing and personalizing work instructions based on the individual needs of the worker – whether they are a novice worker or an expert.
  3. Proving instant access to support, within the flow of work.
  4. And finally, using an AI-based system to analyze how workers are performing on the job, and intelligently targeting upskilling and reskilling based on actual work performance.

Workers have access to a suite of digital tools and knowledge resources at their fingertips – digital work instructions, collaboration, and support tools to guide them on the job and quickly problem-solve complex tasks, allowing them to do their personal best.

For employers, this means not only more engaged and collaborative workers, it also means deeper insights into work performance that can help drive continuous improvement efforts.

skills job proficiency mapping

AI-based smart insights intelligently optimize workers’ performance by identifying and tracking their skills in real-time. Smart insights pull from these performance metrics and learn to prompt workers who need new training programs or work opportunities, continuously upskilling and reskilling.

It’s the advanced medicine needed to maximize productivity and operational health.

So as you plan to bring more of your production back home, make sure you’re ready to seize the opportunity and address the challenges of a restricted labor market at the same time.

 

Find out how and why so many manufacturers are turning to Augmentir to turn their workers into efficient, productive, and long-term assets for their businesses.

Check out our latest webinar – Smart Digitization of Frontline Workers to learn more.

 

Augmentir CEO Russ Fadel had the opportunity to be interviewed recently by Ann Wyatt, Industry 4.0 and IIoT Enthusiast, for the OnRamp Manufacturing Conference.

Earlier this month, Russ Fadel had the opportunity to be interviewed by Ann Wyatt, Industry 4.0 and IIoT Enthusiast, for the OnRamp Manufacturing Conference. OnRamp Manufacturing is the leading conference for manufacturing innovation that brings together the manufacturing industry’s leading corporations, investors, and startups. The conference highlighted innovations disrupting the manufacturing industry, the leaders making such innovations possible, and how new technologies and business models will reinvent the industry. 

In this exciting interview, Ann and Russ discussed some of the top challenges that today’s manufacturers face, and how technology such as AI and connected worker solutions that recognize the variability in today’s workforce are empowering workers by giving them tools and resources that will set them up for success. 

The following is a recap of some of the highlights of the discussion.

The great resignation is upon us now

The consistent story of the manufacturing workforce is that there is an aging workforce and 30-40% of that workforce will leave within the next 5 years, taking valuable, hard to capture tribal knowledge with them. Many manufacturers were under the misconception that the remitting workforce would pass down their knowledge to the next generation as they did before. However, this was a big misconception. Even prior to Covid, the dynamics of the workforce themself have changed. In the last 5 years, the tenure of manufacturing workers is down to 17% and that decrease escalated even more as a result of the pandemic.

The stability of the workforce has decreased in the past 8 years. Old work processes were designed during a more stable time and unfortunately aren’t applicable for this generation of workers. Today’s workers are in the factory less frequently, don’t stay as long, and due to Covid, may be out for short periods of time, resulting in the need for a more dynamic workforce. To deal with this rapidly changing workforce, manufacturers will need a more data-driven approach powered by AI to empower their workforce.

A highly effective, cross functioning workforce

Over the years, the manufacturing industry has done a really good job of connecting machines into the fabric of the business and giving operators the necessary data to help run those machines better. Our frontline workers, the last piece of connectivity, are the least connected set of workers in the company. Frontline workers should be fully integrated into the fabric of the business from a collaboration standpoint so that they can access the data they need as well. Secondly, when they are working, it needs to be understood what workers are doing well and what they are struggling with, so we can match people with the tasks that they already excel at.

Top trends and key challenges in today’s workforce

At the highest level, everyone is talking about the disruption of the mobile supply chain. The role of the manufacturer is to put supply into the supply chain and to safely build products at acceptable quality and productivity levels, matching today’s workforce with today’s task load. 

The new dynamics of the workforce (lots of turnover, shorter tenure, people leaving abruptly) are at odds with what manufacturers are trying to do, which is to be a stable source of supply to the global supply network. Technology today, specifically AI, lets us understand at a data-driven level and in real time how workers can perform at their individual best, based on their training experience and raw ability for a specific task.

How Hybrid Work is impacting the manufacturing workforce

With Covid came an immediate need for remote presence, but the real issue is the idea that a subject matter expert needed to be on site for support. This way of working is now a thing of the past. When we think about having frontline workers fully connected to the organization, at any moment in time, they should have direct access to the tools and resources that would help them do their job better. Connected work in the future means using AI to allow frontline workers to have access to internal and external resources that are appropriate for them at their fingertips.

Another interesting statistic resulting from Covid is that employee engagement is down almost 20% from pre-Covid times. Manufacturers are always concerned about employee engagement, particularly with certain jobs that might be repetitive. AI is extremely helpful in measuring signals of engagement but also provides tools to the organization to increase the level of engagement of frontline workers. One thing that causes a reduction in engagement is when a worker feels like they can’t perform a job so they become frustrated. 

Using AI to give frontline workers the tools and information they need when they need it is one way to help increase engagement. The other way is to let them feel connected to the actual importance of their work.

Hiring, Training & Reskilling

The new workforce dynamics and the nature of hybrid work are also now forcing manufacturers to re-think employee onboarding and training.

The historic methods of onboarding and training taught workers everything they could “possibly” do which resulted in overtraining. The data-driven era we’re entering into is one of continuous learning and development powered by AI. Training shifts from the things frontline workers are possibly going to do to what they are probably going to do. This results in reduced training times, continuous learning and development, and the ability to upskill at any point as needed. Learning is always available, training content is available to the worker on the shop floor at the time of need. Reducing the initial onboarding training and allowing training to occur at the moment of need, coupled with AI for scoring, provides insights into the most effective training modules as well as what needs to improve based on demonstrated execution.

Transforming Today’s Workforce with AI & Connected Worker Tools

One challenge with connected worker data is that it’s inherently noisy. In many cases, up to 37% of the signals that come back are not representative of what is actually happening. Fortunately, AI excels at recognizing patterns in noisy data, so we can use that to focus companies on the work processes that have the most opportunity, allowing organizations to understand their actual proficiency at any procedure or job. This helps them understand current workforce skills and where they should invest if they want to get the largest return, with AI being the driving technology that unlocks those signals in noisy data.

 

AI is largely embedded in most aspects of our lives. It will play an equally large role in helping the connected workforce progress and become part of the 21st-century solution and the next generation of how people work. Adopting these methodologies early on will make the overall digital transformation process a lot easier for manufacturers.