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: https://www.controlglobal.com/podcasts/manufacturing-tomorrows-workforce/augmented-and-virtual-reality-training-in-industry
Amanda: 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.
Amanda: Right. Wow. So, you kind of mentioned the ROI, and I know you're more on the software side of things, but what does investment to implement these technologies look like from both the software and hardware side? I presume they go hand in hand, you're going to need both, right? So, what kind of goes into that? What should a manufacturer expect when they are looking to invest in the technology?
Dirck: Sure. Well, as we know, this technology is early, so the costs are going to come down over time. And basically, this ROI is always going to be a factor of increased safety, increased productivity, reduced time to do jobs, that sort of thing. But you need to look at this from sort of a larger perspective as far as what happens if you don't implement this technology, right? This technology, as you mentioned, we're a software company and we're not here to pitch our software. But if we look at examples of our customers who have implemented our technology, they have seen total elimination of errors on the job. So, you have to look at what is that worth to a worker who is in the middle of a manufacturing line or in a manufacturing environment in which they are working on multi-million-dollar pieces of equipment, right, or hazardous equipment. What is the cost to the enterprise for failing to deploy expertise where it is needed? Now, the other side of that, one of the other arguments there has to do with how much time-saving a worker has. We've seen, for example, tasks that would take two and a half hours for a worker to do drop to a half an hour, let's say, for a maintenance job on a manufacturing line, that sort of thing. This is going to be a very personal thing for every manufacturer to look at. I mean, an airplane manufacturer is going to have a different set of ROI metrics that they're looking at than someone who manufactures furniture or some other smaller consumable device. But the real issue here is that the modern worker going forward will have this tool ready for them. And those companies that do not adopt this technology are going to put themselves at a disadvantage.