Frontline workers are backbone of many industries, but often they are the ones to face challenges that can impede their productivity and communication. According to a recent study, poor communication among frontline workers can result in a loss of up to $37 billion for US-based companies. Additionally, a lack of digitization among frontline workers can lead to low machine downtime and decreased productivity, which can cost companies millions of dollars per year. In order to meet the rising demand in industries, it’s more important than ever for companies to find ways to augment and digitally empower their frontline workers.
In this article, we will learn how to augment and digitally empower frontline workers in the times of recession. We will understand what augmented workers are and how can companies transform their frontline employees to augmented workers.
Without further ado, let’s first understand the term ‘Augmented Worker’.
An “augmented worker” is a worker/ operator who uses technology to enhance their skill & knowledge through which they can perform more specialized tasks efficiently, safely, and in a better way. This can include tools such as augmented reality (AR) glasses, smartphones, tablets, or other devices that provide real-time information and guidance. This technology can be used to overlay virtual images on the real world, providing workers with access to information that would otherwise be hidden or difficult to view. It can also provide access to remote experts who can provide assistance and guidance, as well as real-time alerts and notifications.
With the use of Augmented technologies, an augmented operator can access right information at the right time, which leads to better decision making and reduced downtime, and improve the overall productivity. This can also help workers to overcome their failures.
Augmented technologies are integrated as well as assistive. Here integrated means that they are the seamless part of a worker’s environment. And assistive means that they reduce complexity or exert control over some of the factors influencing poor human performance. Moreover, augmentative technologies allow frontline workers to perform more complex tasks with utmost care. Augmented technologies carry a great great potential with themselves, but still, they are not being adopted by organizations and industries alike. Thus, even at a time of digital transformation, paper-based instructions are frequently found in the workplace.
Here’s a list of augmented worker technologies that can transform frontline workers and turn them into augmented workers:
Augmented Reality is an enhanced version of the real physical world that delivers visual elements, sound, and other sensory information by using a smartphone, tablet, or AR glasses. It is a growing trend generally seen in industries like automotive, manufacturing, healthcare, construction, defense, and many more.
As organizations are adopting augmented reality for training and development, they are also exploring more ways to use AR for real-time learner support. By adding digital elements to the real world, organizations can draw workers’ attention to what they actually need to learn.
Augmented intelligence is created to keep people involved in the problem-solving process while using AI technology. Artificial intelligence is used to automate processes, conduct in-depth data analysis for better insights, and to operate freely. Here AI is used in augmented intelligence, but in a different way where humans are kept in the loop and also play an important role in making decisions.
Augmented intelligence is intended to work with humans to improve their skills. It mainly focuses on machine learning that can be used by humans to make important decisions and take necessary actions.
So, in simple terms, there are many different technologies and artificial intelligence is one of those. And augmented intelligence is the result of how you implement those artificial intelligence technologies.
The majority of augmentative techniques are effective because they allow human-machine collaboration in intelligent ways. They respond in real-time to machine outputs and situations and provide operators with signals in a way that enables them to make wise decisions. Such a network of connected machines, systems, devices, and humans is only possible with an IoT connection.
Nowadays, robotic devices are entering a number of industrial markets. The use of robotics applications has increased protection, quality and sustainability for organizations. With the emergence of Industry 4.0, robotics is beneficial to organizations in various ways, such as accuracy, efficiency, and resistance to hazardous conditions. It also makes it possible to collaborate between several data platforms, which can make production effective and reliable. These intelligent robots work with great precision and speed.
One of the main traits of modern augmentative technologies is the seamless integration of manufacturing processes. The reason behind this is that the size of sensors is decreased while increasing potential. These sensors can be inserted in clothes, the body, or even at several points in a production unit to analyze the surroundings and record events as they take place. Moreover, these sensors are becoming one of the cutting-edge technologies. In a factory where people and objects are constantly in talk, the data collected by sensors is transmitted through IoT. For those industries seeking flexibility, these sensors can be helpful as they accurately measure human and machine performance.
Organizations can utilize aforementioned technologies and transform their frontline workers digitally. Following are some ways to augment frontline workers with digital technologies:
About 7 to 8 years ago, manufacturers started looking for ways to support frontline workers in delivering more timely, accurate information so they can perform their tasks better and with high efficiency. And now, many of them have already started using technologies like augmented reality to assist, instruct, and train workers.
Here are some ways in which Augmented Reality can help Augment Frontline Workforce:
In many organizations, workers usually are not able to communicate and share necessary information with other field workers. With AR-based remote assistance, the workers are able to collaborate and get visual assistance by connecting remotely. Through this, you can solve your issues quickly without waiting for an expert to come on-site, no matter where you are. Besides, it significantly reduces the costs of truck rolls and machine replacement.
Moreover, it reduces unnecessary machine downtime, especially in a pandemic-like situation. AR remote assistance shares all necessary data and instructions with technicians in real-time. This eliminates unnecessary errors and misinterpretations. AR helps augmented workers to streamline the field service process, increase first time fix rates, and enhance productivity. This makes their work more simplified and effective.
Repetitive and manual tasks are now being performed by automated solutions, hence operators are left with tasks that are complex or variable for automation. This trend will continue as long as the demand for customization, less product cycles, and high mix low volume remains the norm. Hence, workers who are facing these challenges can easily assist through creative digital work instructions. Moreover, adding photos and videos assists in understanding the task instructions more clearly. Each step here is clearly highlighted so that workers can carry out their tasks more effectively.
Through a quality control checklist, workers will get step-by-step SOPs for the smooth functioning of the process. Many manufacturers use this checklist at different production levels to identify defects and prevent them from contaminating. Checklist ensures that the products meet the necessary criteria. Ultimately, these step-by-step instructions reduce waste, save operators’ time, improve production efficiency, and improve decision-making processes.
New workers have much to learn before effectively carrying out their tasks. Most of the industry often develops offline instructions like complicated processes, safety measures and equipment for workers. The drawback of off-site training is that they are time-consuming & expensive. However, the solution to this problem is augmented reality training which provides training experiences to workers which can be accessed anywhere, anytime. Many organizations are using augmented reality (AR) to display crucial elements like instructions, safety measures and equipment processes using mobile devices and smart glasses. This helps in reducing operational costs and simplifying onboarding programs.
With Plutomen’s Frontline Operations Platform, you can overcome many problems that front-line factory operators usually experience. This frontline operations suite is specially designed & developed for all types of frontliners, whether they are field technicians, technical experts, or a customer service agent. Our frontline operation tools respond and resolve issues in real-time with visual assistance from experts, digitized workflows and AR training sessions. Let’s see these tools in detail:
Chirag brings with him 15+ Years of experience in Digital Transformation, and IT Leadership. At Plutomen, he holds deep experience in business with a track record of customer-centric approaches helping them build business transformation.
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