Technology News

11January2021

How to Use Augmented Reality to Upskill Workers with Light Guide CEO, Paul Ryznar

Augmented reality training station helps solve the skills gap

Heightened attention on the skills gap and finding ways to solve it has turned many companies towards Industry 4.0 technologies to solve training problems. 

The difficulty is finding technology that seamlessly integrates training into current processes and doesn’t interfere with production. 

Augmented Reality (AR) is enabling companies to simultaneously evolve workers’ skill sets and increase production. It is moving training programs from the computer directly to the production line. 

Light Guide CEO, Paul Ryznar, weighed in on some of the ways that AR is solving the skills gap.

Variation

Manufacturing and non-manufacturing companies have struggled with work development forever, specifically the costs of properly training their personnel and training variation; where people are trained differently depending on who trains them,” Paul noted. 

Training programs have always been costly and difficult to manage. Any change, whether it be for a new position or a new process, creates the need for quick and thorough instruction. Often multiple people become responsible for training around the plant and each trainer has their own style. These slight differences can affect the consistency of products. Ultimately it could lead to increased error-rates, production time, or even safety hazards. 

AR training programs guide trainees through every step of the process. Some AR software can even determine right and wrong bin picks and administer quizzes to test comprehension after training. Paul explained, “Because AR trains personnel on the very best practices right from the first cycle they run every time, the training becomes both standardized and consistent without variation.”

Scalability

Part of the reason that training variation occurs is that one standard program can’t be run throughout an entire plant. 

With AR, programs are easily deployed on an enterprise-scale. With a few clicks, supervisors can choose what systems receive or don’t receive information. When updates are made, the changes only need to be programmed into one system and then can be immediately implemented throughout the plant. 

Productivity

With AR, training programs don’t have to be separated from the floor. They can be combined with regular work instruction processes.

Some systems, like Light Guide, assimilate training and normal production. Guided steps eliminate the need for supervision, allowing people to learn at their own pace and produce error-free products without any formal background. The amount of guidance offered eliminates the skills gap, meaning anyone can learn any process.  

This process doesn’t only benefit the trainees. As Paul notes, “The trainers can now perform more value-added work like assembling product or problem-solving.”

Plants can innovate on multiple levels by implementing AR training programs. While training in the factory becomes more effective, trainers are now able to spend more time planning the next steps forward. Productivity is increased, as well as efficiency and quality, making more time available to strategize for a better future. 

To find out more about utilizing AR in your factory, contact us on our website. 

14December2020

Solving the Skills Gap: A Visual Guide on Upskilling

Upskilling is a buzz-word heard across every industry. 

Markets are shifting, bringing in new technologies and changing job opportunities, both of which change job requirements. New skills are required to fulfill those jobs. This results in businesses looking to bring their workers up to speed without any downtime. And that’s where upskilling comes in. 

The manufacturing sector has seen sudden rises in job loss and lack of recruits over the past few years. It has also seen a rise in Industry 4.0 technology. Between these two, the skills gap is more prevalent than ever before. Therefore, upskilling has become a prevalent solution. 

This infographic is designed to explain the current role of upskilling in manufacturing. Pulling data from surveys, this provides a glimpse into the perceptions of the skills gap throughout the entire factory.  

 

Upskilling is a training process that teaches workers new skills to improve their current roles. It is a proven method for reducing the skills gap across all levels of an organization. Upskilling solves numerous production issues and is championed by leaders and workers alike. One of the best ways to upskill workers is to utilize Augmented Reality (AR) training. Light Guide Systems AR software is an inclusive and versatile Industry 4.0 technology that makes training quick, simple, and quantifiable. 80% Executives say at least half of all new roles should be filled by reskilling existing workers.75% Manufacturers saw improvements to productivity and morale . 87% Workers BELIEVE SKILLs dEVELOPMENT WILL BE ESSENTIAL For Future WORK. 81% Workers SAY training helps them feel more engaged at work.

 

More about the benefits of using AR to upskill will be covered in our “How to Use Augmented Reality to Upskill Workers with Light Guide CEO, Paul Ryznar” blog post. 

To find out more about Light Guide Systems AR training, please contact us.

 

7December2020

Sandy Munro Shows Off Light Guide on Tesla Battery

Munro Live Sandy Builds Tesla Battery Bay

Sandy Munro, the CEO of Munro & Associates, is known for his innovative lean design methods, wit, and his YouTube channel. He frequently posts videos of Tesla Model teardowns and gives advice and tips on lean manufacturing techniques. In the latest episode of Munro Live, Sandy Munro assembled a Tesla battery bay with the help of Light Guide Systems. 

From the beginning, Sandy noted that the new way of manufacturing would focus on guided processes. It takes the guesswork out of the assembly, especially with complex builds. As Sandy stated, “If you try to put it in the wrong place, it’s going to come back and tell you ‘hey put it over here.’” Even if it was his first time putting it together. He went on to say that “this is exactly why we have this kind of a system. It allows me to not make a mistake.”

The assembly included guided placements of parts, wire harnessing, clipping, pick-to-light bin picking, and wrenching. 

After completing the assembly, Sandy spoke with the Light Guide Systems CEO, Paul Ryznar about the process. “It’s similar to a GPS you use in your car,” Paul noted, “It’s like a GPS for manufacturing. So, complex processes like building a battery become as simple as following the lights.” 

The time it takes to train employees on complex processes such as, and inspect correctness,  takes enormous amounts of time away from overall throughput. “To be able to compete, we’ve got to be able to get up to speed in a hurry,” Sandy mentioned. And Light Guide allows you to do that with unlimited variations to the process. Often, as Paul stated, a typical return on investment is achieved in under six weeks. 

Watch Sandy complete the whole assembly in under ten minutes on Munro Live: 

Watch Now

Find out more about using Light Guide Systems for assembly applications by contacting us on our website. 

 

30November2020

3 Effects of the Skills Gap on the Bottom Line

Effects of the skills gap on the bottom line

Over the past few months, the primary causes of the rise in the skills gap have been increased consumer demand and decreased employment. Factory activity rose to the same levels as this time last year but, 3.2 million more people between 56 and 74 years old retired this year compared to last, according to the Pew Research Center. Read “What Causes the Skills Gap?” to find more details about these changes. 

With a large percentage of the manufacturing workforce out of work or retiring, businesses are moving new employees into the open positions. But often, the workers brought in are from other departments, industries, or completely new to the workforce. 

As new employees start their new job, they are expected to perform at the same level as the experienced workers before them, who had decades of experience. Without the same level of experience, production is unable to perform at its full potential.

There are three main effects of the skills gap that are affecting the bottom line; quality, inefficient productivity, and increased cost. 

Effects of the Skills Gap on the Bottom Line

1. Quality

Without a proper understanding of a task or technologywhether it is new to the company or just new to the workerit is likely that mistakes will be made during its process. This can put the efficacy, and specifically the safety, of the final product in jeopardy. 

However, a lack of knowledge about the full capability of a technology or task can also drive down quality. Especially if a technology is new, a lack of basic understanding can restrict workers from more advanced aspects that would make processes simpler. Again, quality would be lacking, but instead of being due to error, it would be because a worker didn’t understand how to use the technology to its full potential.

2. Inefficient Productivity

Time is spent identifying and fixing quality issues by workers and supervisors. It holds back the entire production line and limits throughput, but also takes time away from finding new ways to improve productivity and efficiency in the long term. 

With the inability to move forward, it may seem like a better choice to move back to the original process. If issues with a task or technology persist due to a skills gap, the entire value of it can be lost. Abandoning either as an attempted solution to the issues caused by the skills gap holds back the innovation and agility of the entire company. 

3. Increased cost

The time it takes to extensively train employees and fix issues can take away from throughput and therefore reduce capital. As explained above, abandoning a new technology or process can prevent other advancements in the business that would drive profit.

Along with business-level effects, the skills gap has effects on the overall economy and has already affected the future. The National Association of Manufacturers stated that:

Over the next decade, 4.6 million manufacturing jobs will likely be needed, and 2.4 million are expected to go unfilled due to the skills gap. Moreover, according to a recent report, the lack of qualified talent could take a significant bite out of economic growth, potentially costing as much as $454 billion from manufacturing GDP in 2028 alone. Between now and 2028, a persistent skills shortage could cost $2.5 trillion in reduced output. (Source: Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute)”

Overall, even a minor skills gap can limit production now and in the future. With nearly a million manufacturers currently unemployed and 2.4 million jobs projected to be unfilled, the future losses may come sooner than planned. 

So, how do you prevent it? 

Solving the Skills Gap

Ensuring proper training is a simple, yet effective way to solve the skills gap. Though some sources state that automation will solve the problem, nothing can replace the “distinct, experienced, human skill set that is still really necessary,” as Bridgewater Interiors CEO Ronald Hall Jr. says. 

The time invested in upskilling workers provides solutions to these production challenges and provides additional organizational benefits. More on that will be discussed in our post on upskilling.

To ensure proper training, tools like Augmented Reality (AR) make training quick, simple, and can certify trainee knowledge. Gautam Goswami from Forbes found a 2018 white paper by ARC Advisory Group that explains that: 

“By adopting AR solutions, the paper states, manufacturing organizations can empower their factory workers in training and guidance applications. By integrating AR, you can lead your team toward the democratization of knowledge and solve a key roadblock shared by logistics, manufacturing and field service: the experience gap.”

Training with AR technology levels the playing field. Anyone with any skill set can use AR to guide processes with no experience necessary. Guided work instructions can reduce cycle time and create error-free assemblies, every time. 

More about the features of AR training is mentioned in our blog post on upskilling

To learn more about how Light Guide uses AR technology on their TrainAR workbench to solve the skills gap, please contact us for more information. 

23November2020

What Causes the Skills Gap?

TrainAR

The average cost HR managers say they incur for having extended job vacancies is more than $800,000 annually,” according to a CareerBuilder survey in 2017. 

Since 2017, the unemployment rate has skyrocketed. The economic downturn in March caused profit loss for many businesses, even without the added cost of job vacancies. 

While the economy has started to recover, businesses are increasingly struggling to fill job vacancies. The issue isn’t finding candidates to fill these new positions, it’s finding workers that meet the qualifications necessary to do these jobs effectively.

The skills gap is the disconnect between the skills a worker has and the skills required of a worker to perform their job. In modern manufacturing, the skills gap is generally attributed to either quickly losing many experienced workers or the introduction of new technologies into a worker’s environment. 

The key to staying afloat during COVID is having an agile workforce that can adapt to rapidly changing work requirements and technologies. Unfortunately, the resources necessary to advance worker capabilities are limited. An increase in demand and major decreases in employment and retainment, in particular, have shed light on how the skills gap prevents employee effectiveness. 

Causes of the Skills Gap 

Increased Demand

Increased factory activity in the last few months has required more workers to adapt and learn new skills to meet production needs. The Institute for Supply Management stated in its index that national factory activity rose to a reading of 59.3 last month. That is the highest reading since November 2018. 

Following many months of economic downturn, renewed consumerism is fueling production. New technologies have been brought in to boost throughput, but their efficiency relies on the supply chain keeping up with inventory needs. The reduced inventory during the height of COVID put a focus on retaining profit rather than stockpiling for economic revival, understandably. 

One example of a business having issues with needed materials is Casper Sleep Inc., better known as just Casper. Mattress deliveries are being delayed because the company outsources many of its materials, which aren’t available at the same rate as orders. 

The pressure to quickly move materials is leaving little time to train workers on more efficient processes or the technology intended to do that. 

Decreased Employment

As of October 2020, the unemployment rate is 6.9%, equal to 11.1 million people unemployed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In total, manufacturers in the US employ 8.51% of the workforce (NAM). This leaves just under a million manufacturers currently unemployed. 

The manufacturing industry has also seen record increases in retirement. During the third quarter of 2020, compared to 2019, 3.2 million more people between 56 and 74 years old retired according to the Pew Research Center. Last year, about 20.3% of all manufacturers were 55 to 64 years old according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics

With a large percentage of the population out of work or retiring, businesses are moving new employees into open positions. But often, the workers brought in are from other departments, industries, or completely new to the workforce. 

Often, this results in negative effects on the bottom line. Find out more about the effects of the skills gap in our article “3 Effects of the Skills Gap on the Bottom Line.” 

The manufacturing industry needs to quickly adopt realistic solutions to the skills gap that solve both of these challenges.  

To learn how Light Guide uses AR technology on their TrainAR workbench to solve the skills gap, please contact us for more information. 

16November2020

How to Assemble a Face Shield for Automation Alley’s Project DIAMOnD

Automation Alley Project DIAMOnD Face Shield Work Instructions

Automation Alley partnered with Oakland County and Macomb County to create Project DIAMOnD to keep Michigan at the forefront of innovation. The program is designed to “address the urgent need to move companies into the digital manufacturing age of Industry 4.0 as fast as possible to help improve our region’s manufacturing agility and response to future disruptions.” 

As a part of that project, businesses accepted into the Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) Resilience Grant Program can receive Industry 4.0 technology at no cost to aid current and future production challenges. This includes potentially being asked to contribute to PPE production for the state in the future. 

To produce that equipment, businesses can choose to receive a TrainAR from Light Guide Systems in the grant application. 

The TrainAR system is designed to effectively and efficiently train any worker, no matter their skill set. It is proven to improve quality, cycle time, and increase productivity for all operations that are run through its system. 

It can instantaneously switch any operation to fulfill the needs of the program. Meaning, your operations are in no way strictly tied to the program through the TrainAR. 

Watch how the TrainAR would work in a situation where the program was requested to build face shields: 

Watch Video

To apply, or find out more information about the program, go to automationalley.com/ppegrant or read our article “Automation Alley’s Project DIAMOnD Keeps Michigan’s Manufacturing Agile”. 

To find out how to request Light Guide Systems products as a part of the program, or find out more about Light Guide Systems in general, please contact us

9November2020

Automation Alley’s Project DIAMOnD Keeps Michigan’s Manufacturing Agile

Automation Alley Personal Protective Equipment Grant as a part of Project DIAMOnD

Michigan is known for being an economic leader. Our history is based on our ability to create the rules and lead manufacturing into the future. But COVID-19 shed light on limits to manufacturing agility in Michigan. 

Automation Alley, partnered with Oakland County and Macomb County, created a Project DIAMOnD to keep Michigan at the forefront of innovation, at no cost.

What Is Automation Alley’s Project DIAMOnD

Automation Alley’s Project DIAMOnD is described as a way to “address the urgent need to move companies into the digital manufacturing age of Industry 4.0 as fast as possible to help improve our region’s manufacturing agility and response to future disruptions.” It brings Industry 4.0 to Oakland and Macomb counties at no cost through the Personal Protection Equipment Resilience Grant Program, which is funded by Oakland County and Macomb County.  

The project applies to small to medium-sized manufacturing companies (Small being 49 or fewer employees and medium being between 50 and 249 employees according to OECD Data) that reside in Oakland or Macomb county. In those areas, there are over 300 companies eligible for the grant.

Automation Alley notes that “Manufacturers accepted into the program will receive:

  • Industry 4.0 Equipment: participating companies will have a choice of a Light Guide Systema projected augmented reality work instructions systemor a production part capable 3D printer at no-cost. 
  • Strategic Guidance: on how to transform from legacy operations to digital manufacturing.
  • An Industry 4.0 Assessment: outlining where their business stands today and what digital opportunities best fit their needs. 
  • Connections and introductions: to state-of-the-art vendors and applied research that can help them along their path to Industry 4.0. 
  • A financial investment: will be granted to purchase Industry 4.0 and state-of-the-art digital technologies

Along with these benefits, adopting digital manufacturing technology ensures jobs are kept and created in Michigan. The current workforce needs upskill and learn new processes to keep up with the increasingly data-driven environment. New workers won’t be limited by their skillset. Technologies like augmented reality work instructions ensure a more efficient training environment where employees can immediately begin performing a new job without errors. 

Deploying Industry 4.0 through the DIAMonD project at no costincreases agility across all aspects of our economy and keeps Michigan a leader in manufacturing. 

Apply now while funding is still available. 

To apply, or find out more information about the program, go to automationalley.com/ppegrant

To find out how to request Light Guide Systems products as a part of the program, or find out more about Light Guide Systems in general, please contact us

 

 

“PPE.” Automation Alley, Automation Alley, 2020, automationalley.com/ppegrant. 

2November2020

Bridge the Skills Gap with Augmented Reality at Integr8 2020

Join Light Guide Systems at the virtual Integr8 conference on November 9 and 10, 2020, hosted by Automation Alley. 

The two-day conference brings a network of technology and manufacturing leaders from around the world. They will share and discuss the future tools and influences of Industry 4.0 on businesses and digitization challenges and opportunities.

Light Guide will be presenting “Bridging the Skills Gap with Augmented Reality” on Tuesday, November 10 at 1:20 PM EST. The presentation will discuss how augmented reality solutions provide retraining/upskilling for employees while improving business agility for the future.

Here is a preview of the presentation: 

VIEW NOW

General admission tickets are free and can be downloaded on the Eventbrite website

More information about the conference, agenda, and speakers can be found on the Integr8 conference website

To learn more about how COVID-19 affected reskilling/upskilling, and particularly retention and recruitment, check out our “A Safe and Efficient Restart with Augmented Reality” blog post. 

 

26October2020

The Importance of Traceability in Optimizing Production

Light Guide Systems data traceability in optimizing production

Data collection and analysis are imperative to agile manufacturing. Looking forward, especially as production innovates, staying competitive relies on comprehending every aspect of a given process. Collecting the right data enables full traceability and understanding of your process. 

Traceability is the capability to find and verify the complete history of production parts. Everything from the moment an employee scans in to start their shift to the product arriving in receiving can be tracked, analyzed, and reported. Traceability provides a “digital receipt” of every product that goes through a given process.

Traceability puts data into context

Modern digital devices are capable of recording all kinds of data ranging from step times to operator IDs, barcode scans, vision results, gauge values, serial numbers, and the dates and times that operators began and completed work. 

On its own, this data can be cryptic and hard to understand, but with a full traceability solution, it can be compiled into reports and dashboards that give you a complete picture of your process and the individual products that pass through it.

Traceability improves quality

The reports and dashboards created as a part of your solution can provide a full traceable history of your product. Full traceability helps you to contain defective parts that were caused by a batch of raw materials, a faulty production machine, or a design defect. Once you find the first bad part, you can look up all other parts that might share the problem and proactively find and repair all affected parts. 

In addition to making it easier to identify the root cause of defects after the fact, traceability efforts also promote accountability in your process and the operators that help make that process happen. 

Having an operator scan their employee badge at the station when they start their shift, for instance, can remind them of their responsibility for making sure that they are performing their job correctly and with the care the product, and your customer, deserve.

Traceability informs better decision making

Data and reports generated to prevent defects can also be used to identify bigger problems with a process. Common problems that are found are excessively time-consuming and costly activities.

Fully contextualized data may also reveal problems that are difficult to identify with the data of a single device alone. Patterns can emerge that display challenges operators face, such as unnecessary actions that harm the ergonomics or safety of a task. 

When operators are required to perform unnecessary or overly difficult tasks, they will find ways to make the task easier for themselves, sometimes in ways that are unsafe or cause quality issues. Identifying these problems makes it easier to solve them, meaning that operators can do their work effectively and comfortably.

Traceability makes compliance possible

Some industries, such as aerospace, defense, and medical device manufacturing mandate traceability in all of their processes. It’s imperative to know where a product has been, whose hands it has passed through, and that every step of the process was performed properly and safely. 

Even in the case of industries that do not mandate traceability as a part of their regulations, having a fully traceable product promotes trust and improves the reputation of the product with its customers. 

In many cases, customers may mandate full traceability of their supplier’s processes to achieve full traceability of their products. An ability to readily comply with these mandates may make a product or business more competitive to potential customers. A fully traceable process can also be used to determine whether or not quality problems may have occurred in other parts of the supply chain, protecting suppliers from liability for problems that they did not cause.

For companies that rely on products from many suppliers, traceability requirements can allow them to better understand where the components that make up their products have been, making them better able to ensure the quality of their products to their customers.

Light Guide Systems®️ Traceability

The Light Guide Systems database collects holistic manual process data that is not available from any other software. Light Guide provides bin pick data for kitting systems, including right and wrong bin picks with timestamps. Light Guide is also the only software that unobtrusively records step and cycle data as a part of the normal production process, rather than through time studies, eliminating any discrepancies caused by observation changing operator behavior. 

Light Guide collects data from the digital devices it interacts with, such as torque tools, barcode scanners, gauges, scales, biometric scanning tools, and machine vision cameras, in addition to its own data on the manual processes at the station. This provides valuable context that can be used to provide a more complete picture of how that device was used, where, and any other data that device might provide. 

Light Guide also provides the ability to take photos and videos of the station mid-process and stores them for later reference. These photos can be used to verify the quality of a product when leaving the Light Guide Station, or as a way of verifying that the work performed at the station was completed correctly. Operators can also verify personally that the work was performed correctly, providing a digital signature, through manual confirmations and text input.

Finally, Light Guide integrates with many other systems that aggregate data collected from factory floor devices, and from there can be exported to reporting tools and data dashboards, fitting into your existing data analytics workflow.

To learn more about traceability and how to apply it to your operations, please contact us for more information. 

Current customers of Light Guide Systems can access additional tips on traceability in the Light Guide Systems Wiki account, on the Database page

 

9October2020

How Cloud Hosting is Advancing Industry 4.0 Manufacturing

Cloud Hosting

Cloud hosting is a vital piece of the digital transformation into industry 4.0.  As a part of the LightGuideAR 4.2 updates, we can connect to the Google Cloud Platform, Amazon Web Services, and Microsoft Azure; the three main cloud service providers.

But what is it cloud hosting? Cloud hosting (better known as just “the cloud”) is a data collection system that stores information on multiple servers in secure locations around the world. It provides global accessibility and mobility of data. 

By storing data in the cloud, rather than on an internal server, it opens new opportunities for enhanced security, operational efficiency, and investment in future innovation. 

Cloud Security

An internal server requires time and labor that might not always be available. It requires constant monitoring for connectivity, security issues, and needs hardware patching, firewalls, switches, routers, etc. 

Cloud hosting puts those requirements on the hosting provider. The provider has an army of experts and resources that are trained and ready for virtually any scenario. Cloud providers routinely achieve better uptime, data loss prevention, and other metrics than on-premises systems. Plus, cloud companies can take on the liability and infrastructure to keep a good server up. They can’t lose your data because they use multiple servers that are in places that ensure internet connection. Meaning, there’s always a backup. 

Enhanced Process Efficiency

Cloud hosting also offers the benefits of saved time, ease of use, and scalability. Information from every station in a plant can be gathered in one place and compared. It is also compatible with APIs and dashboards that narrow data to view the most significant information. For example, Light Guide Systems® currently uses Power BI to dashboard data.

This view of data leads to a better understanding of operational processes. Therefore, it is easier to recognize where issues are occurring and where to minimize downtime and waste. 

You can find out more about how APIs connect to cloud hosting by reading our “LightGuideAR™ 4.2 Connects Data Remotely with Web APIs” blog post. 

Hybrid Cloud Approach

Another option for cloud hosting is the hybrid cloud approach. Light Guide Systems is dedicated to 24/7 manufacturing operations that maximize employee productivity.  While there are lots of benefits to the cloud, there is a small and inherent delay in sending and receiving data to remote servers.  Due to this delay, we remain committed to keeping our system operation local to the station.  We will push operational data to the cloud as it is generated using a separate thread that will not slow down the real-time operator interactions of the system. This hybrid approach provides the best of both worlds, maximizing both productivity and data access.

Profitable Industry 4.0 Investment

The future of industry 4.0 relies on adaptability and resilience. Cloud hosting allows you to constantly adapt and evaluate security, efficiency, and innovationwith minimum effort. 

Light Guide Systems is a leader in industry 4.0 technology by using cloud hosting to adapt to manufacturing needs. Our broad understanding of the flexibility of cloud hosting allows us to easily recognize the operational needs and maximize results. 

To learn more about cloud hosting and how it can be applied to your operations, please contact us for more information.

 

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