Tag Archives: Augmented Reality


Even the most bearish of economists couldn’t have predicted the degree to which the nation’s economy has changed in a mere six months, let alone years. The unemployment rate is in the double-digits, long-standing companies are closing their doors for good, and working from home has become the new daily routine for employees in numerous industries.

But one thing hasn’t changed – manufacturers remain in hiring mode, eager to find and recruit experienced laborers to fill the manufacturing skills gap, which is widening. Business owners must face this new reality head-on and adjust to remain as productive and competitive as possible by leveraging existing resources and making sense of data.

Over 522,000 positions require filling

According to the most recent statistics available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, detailing job opening and labor turnover from this past June, there were 522,000 jobs among manufacturers that had yet to be filled across the U.S., nearly 20,000 more in less than two years’ time.

“As many as 4.6 million jobs may be left unfilled between now and 2028.”

Manufacturing is a broad field, from consumer electronics to packaged goods. Virtually all of them are in the midst of a work experience deficiency. If conditions don’t change, some 4.6 million jobs may be left unfilled between now and 2028, according to forecasts from the Manufacturing Institute.

Speaking to CNBC, Samsung America Regional Director of Human Resources Sherri Satterfield said that while her company has received plenty of applications from those ready and willing to work, applicants frequently don’t have the background in the industry that’s required to make the transition seamless.

“We’re pulling candidates from all over the surrounding counties, and they don’t always have that experience,” explained Satterfield, who works at the electronics conglomerate’s Newberry, South Carolina-based plant. “So it takes them a while to get acclimated to it. Some of them decide that it’s not for them, and then other ones they activate, they’re here for a good amount of time.”

Hiring complicated by COVID-19

The economic aftereffects of the lockdown, instituted in virtually every state to control the spread of the novel coronavirus, have made the vetting process even more complicated and prolonged. For almost the entirety of 2019 and the first two months of 2020, joblessness in the U.S. was at record lows, under 4%, according to BLS and Labor Department figures. Once it ballooned to nearly 15% in April, manufacturers were inundated with employment inquiries, frequently from people who were laid off and looking to enter an all-new career. The sheer volume of resumes made locating experienced laborers the equivalent of finding a needle in a haystack.

Given the ongoing recession and the urgency that COVID-19 has created, manufacturers are adjusting their expectations and making the most of their situation. In short, they’re optimizing existing work processes, their skilled laborers’ capabilities, and their current equipment. Some of this involves investing in new technologies or better utilizing existing ones.

Shrinking the manufacturing skills gap through shop floor optimization.

Utilizing technology to reimagine the shop floor

While the manufacturing skills gap is often considered a human resources issue, technology can help to upskill potential or current employees to address it. Case in point is Honeywell Technologies. As detailed by IndustryWeek, the multinational defense contractor is leveraging both augmented reality and virtual reality for onboarding workers and providing their existing employees with new skill sets.

Eric Seidel, vice president of strategy and chief marketing officer at Honeywell Technologies, told the publication that since many of their workers are entering retirement, they’re bringing their often decades-long experience with them. Taking advantage of AR and VR helps new and current hires to learn more efficiently and quickly.

“Instead of traditional classroom learning, AR and VR allow someone to actually perform the task and therefore the learning curve is much faster,” Seidel explained to IndustryWeek.

He further noted that intelligent wearables enable workers to be more hands-on in their understanding of how to implement certain jobs, tasks, and processes so they’re learning and working simultaneously. Along with employee education, wearables can collect data around footprint and equipment utilization, which can be used to better optimize the shop floor.

In essence, Honeywell is reimagining the shop floor, where workers are learning something new every day and putting those lessons into practice almost immediately. This is a strategy that manufacturers may want to consider in order to optimize existing processes or make more strategic adjustments to when employees are on the shop floor and for how long. Revamping work shifts can help increase productivity with the workforce they have.

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Another way that manufacturers are aiming to close the skills gap – and succeeding in those efforts – is by making processes more predictable in terms of results. Outcome simulation gives workers the foresight they need to know what to expect in terms of throughput and where potential logjams may exist in the supply chain. The ability to replicate processes so they’re done virtually is accomplished through VR.

Samer Forzley, CEO of Simultech Multimedia, likened outcome simulation to what prospective military or commercial pilots do to obtain certification for careers in the cockpit.

“Think about a pilot who learns through simulating a variety of problems that could occur,” Forzley told IndustryWeek. “We are doing the same thing for the factory floor.”

Forzley added that simulation is effective not just for people who are brand new to manufacturing, but also those who are long-tenured. Since technology is always getting more advanced, utilizing tech helps workers acquire new skill sets or refresh what they’ve already learned.

Dive into data

Much can be learned from data, but manufacturers must first be able to obtain it and parse it, said Marco Annunziata, senior contributor for Forbes. Improved data collection and visualization in addition to well-defined KPIs can help manufacturers to get a better understanding of the extent of their skills shortage in order to best address it.

“We need more analysis and data to better understand the problem,” Annunziata wrote.

You don’t necessarily need workers with decades of experience to remain competitive. You have to work smarter by making the most of your existing resources and knowing what data to collect to diagnose pain points. Whether it’s asset utilization, cycle time reduction, or quality improvement, USC Consulting Group can help you close the manufacturing skills gap by making processes smoother and more efficient. This will help you rediscover what you do well and how you can become better. Contact us today to learn more about what we can do for you.


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The U.S. economy is experiencing a period of job growth. The unemployment rate is at a low last seen more than 50 years ago, according to government data, and millions of jobs have been created since 2016, approximately 2.6 million of which were added to payrolls in 2018 alone.

Manufacturing has helped lead the way, with the industry contributing $2.2 trillion to the nation’s gross domestic product in 2016 and over 85% of small-business manufacturers confident that the good times will continue for the foreseeable future, according to the National Association of Manufacturers’ most recently updated outlook survey. Were America’s manufacturing sector its own country, it would be in the world’s top 10 economies, ahead of Spain, Brazil, and Canada, based on estimates from the Manufacturing Institute.

Largely fueling these improvements is the rise of modern manufacturing. Technology is in a constant state of enhancement and advancement. In order to drive process improvements on the shop floor, manufacturers — and companies that use the products made by them — are successfully adopting, installing, and allocating innovative technologies through the advent of modern machine manufacturing techniques, which in turn optimizes the supply chain.

What makes manufacturing techniques advanced?

From machine learning and artificial intelligence to nanotechnology and 3D printing, advanced manufacturing techniques and capabilities usually have a few characteristics in common: They’re founded in state-of-the-art functionalities, improve upon processes that already exist and serve as a workaround to existing workflow problems — without creating new complications.

For example, plastics are a major environmental hazard due largely to their ubiquity. In fact, food packaging manufacturers account for 40% of these materials. Recognizing the potential and existing problems emerging for plant life and the natural habitat, 75% of consumers want businesses to adopt sustainability initiatives.

Numerous small-business owners, franchises and multinational corporations have partnered with chemical manufacturing companies to make sustainability a reality through cleaner development of industrial plastics. In fact, dozens of chemical firms are working collaboratively to leverage process improvements to reduce output of new plastics, reuse what’s already been produced and re-engineer packaging so that it breaks down more quickly and naturally. Advancements and investments in cutting-edge manufacturing technology and adaptability have helped to make this possible.

Here are a few other technologies that stand to further transform modern manufacturing techniques:

1. Augmented reality

Augmented reality melds the real world with the imaginary by superimposing images, sounds, or places so they can be more authentically experienced. As noted by the Huffington Post, it has many applications in the manufacturing sphere, including data retrieval, real-time monitoring, communicating safety warnings, and enhancing the effectiveness of training methods.

2. Enhanced industrial sensors

From optical rotary encoders to inductive proximity sensors, industrial sensors are advancing in their capabilities and practical uses, with more businesses taking advantage of them. Prices are expected to decline for these tools over the course of 2019, which may encourage more manufacturers to invest if they haven’t already, according to ZDNet.

3. Collaborative robotics

Collaborative robots, or cobots, represent the fastest-growing category in industrial automation. This technology pairs robots with humans so they work in a more cohesive manner, as opposed to one replacing the other. Initially only utilized by large corporations, cobots are increasingly affordable and adoptable, which is why their valuation is expected to top $4.3 billion come 2023, according to a report from Markets and Markets.

Modernization is a must in the manufacturing space and at USC Consulting Group, we have the industry expertise to recognize and recommend the cutting-edge manufacturing tools and techniques that can help you achieve supply chain optimization. We have helped companies achieve operational excellence for more than 50 years — if you have a business problem, contact us to help solve it.


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