Why You Need Wearable Devices To Train Industrial Workers


Wearable Devices Can Accelerate Knowledge Transfer For Frontline Workers In Manufacturing, Oil & Gas, Mining And More

Wearable devices are the modern trainer’s secret weapon.

Technology is changing faster than ever before, and as our attention spans get shorter traditional training can’t keep up.

This is especially true in industries like manufacturing, oil & gas, mining, and utilities. These industries face a perfect storm that continues to gather strength with each passing day:

  • These industries seek new technologies to boost performance, yet each new system is more complex than the last.
  • Older workers are retiring in record numbers
  • New hires are faced with a steep learning curve that’s getting even steeper as more complex technologies hit the market.
  • Finally, as older workers retire, new hires lack on-site mentors at time when efficient knowledge transfer is more important than ever.

But wearable devices allow enterprise companies to address these trends head on. The best wearable devices are easy to learn, easy to use, and they can deliver the right information to your frontline workers at just the right time.

Read on for the top reasons why you should use wearable devices to train industrial workers.

Extend Classroom Training Sessions With Real-World Learning

There’s a reason new pilots have to log hundreds of hours in a simulator before they ever fly a passenger jet for the first time. That’s because a simulator isn’t the same thing as flying a plane in the real world. Every pilot knows this. That’s why, when pilots finally take to the air, they are equipped with detailed checklists they can refer to if something goes wrong.

It’s exactly the same with industrial workers.

In the classroom, industrial workers can learn about the requirements of their jobs in a safe environment. They can even walk through scenarios that simulate real-life conditions using wearable devices like HoloLens 2. But simulations are not the same thing as the real world. When these workers finally make it out to the field, how will they get the information they need?

Bulky paper binders will just get in their way. And ruggedized smartphones and rugged tablets are only slightly better. These devices occupy workers’ hands, reducing their situational awareness and potentially putting their safety at risk. Plus these devices are almost impossible to use while wearing thick protective gloves.

This is what makes wearable devices like HMT-1® and HMT-1Z1® so valuable. While HoloLens 2 is great for the classroom, the real world calls for tools that are more rugged. When workers use HMT-1 or HMT-1Z1 they can continue their learning in the field, thanks to a rugged, lightweight form factor that can be worn throughout an entire shift.

“A lot of what our system is used for is to help transfer that knowledge from the expert to the less experienced person at the point where [you’re] in the field, at the point when you’re up to your arms in gloves and power tools and safety equipment.”

Sanjay Jhawar, President and Co-Founder, RealWear, in a recent interview with TrainingIndustry.com

Remote guidance and seamless knowledge transfer through the power of your voice might sound like science fiction. But it’s happening right now at one of the world’s leading mining companies. Anglo American launched their Learning Content Management System on HMT-1 wearable devices so that workers can always get the help they need. With this new system, workers can connect to subject matter experts thousands of miles away to get the right information at the right time. Learn more about Anglo American’s new program here.

Reduce Training Time For New Hires And Experienced Workers With Wearable Devices

Wearable devices like HMT-1 give enterprise companies an easy way to complement classroom learning with ongoing reinforcement in the field. This highlights one of the key benefits of wearable devices: they can reduce training time and improve overall profitability.

And the more complex the process, the more important training becomes. Consider the case of GlobalFoundries. As their Global Head of Innovation DP Prakash explains at 9:26 of this video, semiconductor foundries all around the world now face a once-in-a-lifetime challenge. There is a fundamental quantum limit which constrains their current manufacturing processes. So, how will they innovate in the future?

Through better training.

GlobalFoundries introduced HMT-1 wearable computers to 10 of their workers earlier this year. DP and his team quickly found that these devices could cut training time by 30 – 50%. “Jobs that used to take two weeks or even two months could now take a couple of days,” said Prakash.

“Jobs that used to take two weeks or even two months could now take a couple of days.”

DP Prakash, Global Head of Innovation at GlobalFoundries
A GlobalFoundries worker uses the Document Navigator capabilities of RealWear HMT-1 wearable device to view technical manuals and schematics hands-free. Image: GlobalFoundries

GlobalFoundries wants to use HMT-1 to reduce the time it takes to train a new worker, which is normally 6 – 12 months without using any wearable devices. But in addition to reducing training time, GlobalFoundries discovered the devices could also reduce downtime. When workers can access technical documents through HMT-1, the foundry doesn’t need to take equipment offline to train new hires.

DP and his team are advancing beyond manufacturing innovation. Instead, they are changing how they manufacture semiconductor chips by introducing a new training paradigm. By using HoloLens 2 for classroom learning and RealWear HMT-1 for ongoing training on the factory floor, GlobalFoundries is finding ways to improve performance for everyone from new hires to retiring workers. DP elaborates on the opportunities of unpredictable innovation in this podcast. Discussing the potential benefits of automated and augmented operations at 42:15, he says, “Any industry is going to benefit from this kind of approach.”

Bridge The Gap Between Just In Case And Just In Time Training

There’s a fatal flaw in most classroom training programs: they begin and end in the classroom. While it would be great if we could remember something forever just by reading, seeing, or hearing it once, we’re not built that way. Without ongoing reinforcement, we’ll forget most of what we learn within a few weeks.

The solution? Short microbursts of training at the moment of need. And for industrial workers, wearable devices are the best way to do this.

For an example, watch this short video of Charlie Neagoy from Librestream Technologies. Charlie points out one of the fundamental errors of most training programs: If you teach workers how to fix something “just in case” it happens, but it doesn’t happen until they’ve been on the job for two years, are you really giving them the best training?

Click here to watch Charlie’s full presentation from RealWear Summit 2019.

Classroom learning has its place. But training programs should never be limited to one place and time. Wearable devices let trainers extend and enhance their classroom training by accelerating just in time knowledge transfer when their workers need it the most.

Whether it’s through easy access to digital documents or a quick video conference call with a subject matter expert a continent away, wearable devices can connect workers with the right information in a variety of ways.

With wearable devices like RealWear HMT-1, workers can learn what they need to know at the moment they need to know it. This is how you transform your culture from a “break fix” to a “predict and prevent” mindset. This is how you empower new hires and transform them into adaptable, responsive, experienced workers.

Want to learn more about using wearable devices for training and knowledge transfer?

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