Augmented Reality: The New Knowledge Management
Last week, an article on Forbes addressed that what was known in the 1990s as ‘knowledge management’ has now adapted into Augmented Reality. Both technologies involve field workers connecting with remote experts to capture physical products and share knowledge about them.
AREA member Microsoft’s HoloLens has been significant in emphasising enterprise AR value. Key uses of AR applications include repair, maintenance, and equipment installation. Before the initial launch of HoloLens in 2016, Microsoft’s HoloLens Agency Readiness Program began. This involved AREA member Taqtile, an AR software developer.
CEO and Co-founder of Taqtile, Dirck Schou, has stated that 2.5 billion frontline workers use their hands on the job, and that this requires the help of AR technology. Taqtile’s goal was to “make everyone an expert” by implementing and scaling the HoloLens amongst frontline workers. Their use of the technology changes work and learning while maintaining safety. Taqtile’s enterprise platform, Manifest, captures and reuses knowledge for industrial workers in real time. Field-based experts can initially capture the knowledge, then engineers can refine, add to, or update it for field-based operators to access from Manifest, online and offline.
In addition to customers in the defense industry, Taqtile has many private sector customers, such as PBC Linear. The machine-bearing manufacturer has one of Northern Illinois’ largest machine shops, consisting of approximately 120 machinists. Due to a recent lack of vocational high school programs, a talent gap has formed. Therefore Beau Wileman, Manager of the “Factory of the Future” program at PBC, explored AR-based training with Taqtile’s technology.
Tim LeCrone, a long-standing manufacturing manager at PBC, has expressed enthusiasm about Taqtile. The process allows him to record himself teaching a typical task with 30 to 40 steps in about six hours, capable for training new employees. In six or seven months, PBC has created approximately 70 training templates with 30-40 steps each. This removes a great deal of stress from the user, as there are many tasks and order of operations to remember.
A recent engineering graduate at PBC, Sam Aluko, has used the Taqtile system to understand new machines. The technology enables him to go back through the steps if he doesn’t understand it properly, allowing him to learn at his own pace.
LeCrone claims that Taqtile and Manifest have improved quality of work, and enabled faster learning. Their talent issue has also largely been solved, as they now have a competitive advantage with using AR tech. New engineers enjoy working with AR, and are likely to stay in the job for longer. Supporting customers is another benefit of AR, as PBC are now occasionally supplying AR headsets along with products. This allows customers to create AR training modules themselves.
Using AR to maintain and diagnose machinery is now a much easier method of knowledge management. Industrial organisations can get up and running much faster than before with AR’s packaging of information.