Manufacturing and Virtual Reality: Bridging the Labor Gap
[Network Connectivity] April 27, 2022 5 PM
Boomers are right; we don’t make things like we used to.
The advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution has changed how we do business. This current phase of industrial practices is driven by data and new technologies, impacting almost every industry in the global economy, and manufacturing is not exempt.
While digital advancements have streamlined many aspects of the manufacturing sector from production to distribution, the current lack of skilled labor represents a significant hindrance to future progress.
The industry is grappling with a challenging combination of low retention rates and an aging workforce, significantly impacting productivity and profitability. Many manufacturing firms are beginning to adopt digital training solutions to efficiently equip their workforce with the required skills without negatively impacting their bottom line.
In this article, we will explore the benefits of virtual reality training and identify how it can help the manufacturing industry rally against a diminishing workforce.
1. Safety First
The risks of working in manufacturing are very apparent. Workers have to operate heavy machinery, are exposed to dangerous goods and substances, are at risk of being hit with moving objects - the list goes on.
Virtual reality training offers employees the opportunity to learn about a plant, personal protective equipment (PPE) and its rules without risking potential injury. This is a significant advantage for construction employers looking to recruit new workers and train them in a safe environment.
2. Training Efficiencies
Time is of the essence for manufacturers, making it crucial for employees to get up to speed as quickly as possible. Through VR training, workers can be exposed to several dangerous incidents (like an explosion or critical malfunction) and learn to respond accordingly in a safe environment.
In 2018, The University of Maryland conducted a study to compare subject recall following VR-based training versus computer-based. The results found the users who practiced VR had a 90.48% retention rate. Whereas those who used the computer only remembered 78.57% of the content. Clearly, this training method enables employees to train quickly and safely while ultimately leading to long-term recall.
3. Bridge the Talent Gap
A significant challenge for the manufacturing industry is bridging the information gap between retiring baby boomers and reluctant millennials. VR is helping to address this obstacle by using the knowledge of older generations to inform and create digital training materials for future employees. This enables manufacturing firms to retain invaluable industry knowledge while providing remote training opportunities for younger workers.
The use of VR training is viewed very highly by young professionals. Studies indicate that 66% of millennials believe that VR training provides greater flexibility, and 82% state that the use of high-tech equipment will influence their decision about taking a new job. These figures indicate that VR can effectively recruit young workers to the manufacturing industry to counteract the aging workforce.
4. Improve Employee Retention
According to the Association for Manufacturing Excellence, the average manufacturing plant has an employee turnover rate of 37%, which is staggering when considering that the average US turnover rate is only 3.6%.
VR training provides a less stressful environment for new employees to learn the ropes of the industry. By gaining virtual exposure to equipment and plant practices, workers feel more confident in their roles and have an understanding of what the job entails before they hit the factory floor. Furthermore, research has shown that employees trained through VR are 34% more invested in the subject matter (when compared to traditional training methods) and 275% more confident in applying the skills they’ve learned.
5. Saving Money
By training employees in a virtual environment, manufacturers can forgo the necessity of sacrificing a piece of equipment for hands-on training purposes. Business can continue as usual as prospective workers learn, which significantly reduces costs associated with equipment wear and tear.
While the initial cost of VR equipment may be expensive, the long term value of the benefits outlined in this article far outweighs the initial investment. Ultimately, VR training is a thoroughly efficient way to streamline operations and improve employee retention.
Connect with Cloudscene
To establish an effective VR training program, manufacturers must ensure they have access to reliable network services. The flexibility and efficiency of VR can only be harnessed if employees can quickly retrieve training materials through the internet or the cloud.
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