As a manufacturing training professional, you might sometimes feel you’ve been asked to perform the impossible, like filling a growing gap of open positions with highly skilled workers — especially production workers, engineers, and tradespeople — quickly and cost-effectively. Job openings in manufacturing remain at historic high levels, with the US Census Bureau estimating 2.1 million unfilled positions in the sector by 2030 due to a skills shortage. Older workers are retiring at record rates, taking expert and institutional knowledge with them.  

Traditional training strategies are increasingly falling short in effectiveness, usage, and the ability to measure success. According to the 2022 Training Industry Report, the highest priorities for training are increasing program effectiveness (32 percent vs. 31 percent last year); increasing learner usage (21 percent vs. 19 percent last year); and measuring the impact of training programs (21 percent vs. 17 percent last year). 

Maybe it’s time for a change. A recent study by Deloitte hits the nail on the head: “Overall, training models for construction and manufacturing are not in sync with the twenty-first century needs of these industries, contributing to growing worker shortages.” One of the solutions Deloitte recommends is delivering “new models of learning…that leverage technology to help workers develop the new mix of skills required in the age of automation.”

A surprising solution: Augmented reality

You might be surprised to learn that augmented reality (AR) — a technology that combines digital and physical worlds, allowing interactions in real time — can address many of these concerns in a highly effective and efficient way. AR lets users overlay digital information onto the real world, creating an immersive experience that can enhance the learning process. Imagine if instead of having a manual, you could see how to fix a piece of equipment by simply pointing an iPad at it and following illustrated on-screen instructions overlayed directly on the image to repair it.

Using a phone, tablet, or headset, workers can manipulate computer-generated objects in a 3D space – whether in the classroom or on the shop floor – seeing everything as if it were in front of them. They can zoom inside objects, work alongside a remote teammate who sees what they see and do, or follow written or video instructions for repairs and other tasks. 

Here are seven ways in which AR can reduce the cost of training while boosting its effectiveness and speed.

Reduced equipment needs. One of the biggest misconceptions around AR is that it requires costly equipment. This is largely due to confusion with virtual reality (VR), in which users wear a headset that leaves them oblivious to and unable to see the real world. By contrast, augmented reality works within the real world – and it can operate on familiar devices such as smartphones and tablets as well as visors that project objects onto a user’s vision. In fact, best-in-class AR platforms are device-agnostic, making them far more flexible and future-ready than proprietary VR equipment. 

At the same time, AR’s ability to create digital versions of real-world objects can eliminate the need for even traditional training equipment. This could include machinery, specialized tools or expensive software programs. For example, instead of a company purchasing and maintaining expensive machinery for training purposes, employees can use AR to simulate the experience of using the machinery. This not only saves on equipment costs, but also reduces the risk of accidents during training.

Just-in-time training. The best time to learn new information or a new skill is when you need it most. A just-in-time training approach is one in which you create a library of e-learning courses that learners can complete at a time that best suits them. Often this will be when they have an immediate need for the information. AR is ideally suited for this type of training, and can even be used by seasoned professionals to tackle a new task. Need to repair an unfamiliar piece of equipment? Get written, video, or even remote live help while actually performing the work.  

Lower travel costs. Training programs often require employees to travel to classroom settings. This can be a significant expense for companies, especially if the training takes place in a different city or country. Similarly, an experienced professional will often need to go onsite to support technicians. With AR, training can take place remotely, eliminating the need for employees to travel. This not only saves on travel costs, but also saves time as employees can complete the training without having to take time off work to travel.

Faster learning. AR can also make training programs more cost-effective by speeding up the learning process. With AR, employees can learn at their own pace and in their own time. This means that they can complete the training more quickly, reducing the amount of time and resources required to get them up to speed. Additionally, AR can make training more engaging and interactive, which can improve learning outcomes.

Fewer training staff required. Another significant cost associated with training programs is staffing. Companies need to hire and train the trainers to effectively deliver training programs. AR can provide employees with a self-guided training experience, allowing them to learn on their own without the need for a trainer. This not only saves on staffing costs, but frees up trainers to focus on more complex tasks.

Improved retention. AR can make training programs more cost-effective by improving retention rates. Traditional training methods can be dry and dull, making it difficult for employees to retain the information they have learned. AR, however, provides a more engaging and interactive and visual experience, which can improve retention rates. When employees retain information more effectively, they’re less likely to require additional training in the future, reducing the overall cost of training programs.

Performance tracking. As a digital delivery system, AR allows employers to monitor employees’ progress and performance during training sessions in real-time. This can identify problem areas and the provision of immediate feedback, leading to better learning outcomes.

Augmented reality has the potential to revolutionize training programs, making them more cost-effective and efficient. With Scope AR, the time to train and certify your staff, customers, and technicians on new technologies can be dramatically reduced – by as much as 90% or more. 

ScopeAR’s WorkLink Platform gives workers the information they need to do their best work by providing expert guidance at any moment, and on any device. WorkLink is the first solution to combine AR work instructions and remote AR assistance into one enterprise-ready platform.

Scope AR revolutionized the way enterprises work and collaborate by offering a visual “knowledge base” solution that provides effective and efficient knowledge-sharing to conduct complex remote tasks, employee training, product and equipment assembly, maintenance and repair, field and customer support, and more.

To learn more about the benefits AR can bring to your organization, visit this quick guide to get started.