Wearables and remote connect technologies are finding use in diverse settings across industries including manufacturing. Combined with the power of IoT, connected workers are believed to disrupt traditional business models, and improve safety of frontline workers while enhancing quality and efficiency of their work.
The outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that the potential benefits of these technologies are real, but their real-world ability to make immediate change has been overhyped. The result: Manufacturers are unable to realize the benefits of enterprise-wide digital transformation, and deskless manufacturing employees are resistant to implementation due to failed connected worker programs.
While it’s likely to experience some internal aversion due to failed programs of the past, here’s how you can overcome organizational skepticism or individual resistance and realize the potential of a connected worker program:
Identify a real-world problem that can be solved
In the past, organizations often rolled out new technology without making a clear case for how the technology would change existing ways of working for the better, resulting in low adoption rates. Instead, start with a small group of frontline employees and work with them to identify a business problem or pain point that can be solved with wearable computers. Then, implement a well-designed pilot program aimed at solving that problem to uncover the challenges and results of the device use before broader rollout. This enables you to fine-tune the program. Because the program and its content will be customized to the specific needs of your workers, it will also drive a greater ROI and higher rates of adoption. Targeting a specific business case also makes it much easier to judge the ROI of the program.
Break down barriers early
Bring IT and environmental health and safety (EHS) partners onboard as early as possible in your connected worker program. They can help you understand organization-wide needs and how critical factors such as connectivity, device management, training, safety and usability will play a role in your deployment. Security reviews are often one of the biggest causes of delays of pilot programs, and by making IT a partner, you can address concerns early and turn IT into an advocate.
Keep it short
Your pilot program should last no longer than three months to avoid “pilot purgatory.” Longer programs without demonstrated ROI tend to lose the attention of top management and workers alike. With the help of your IT and EHS partners, set specific success criteria and metrics around the business problem that your pilot is focused on. Once your pilot is complete, measure results and gather feedback to make your case for the connected worker program and identify any opportunities or improvement needed.
Set realistic expectations
Your pilot should be focused around a solving a single use case. Make sure that your pilot metrics are based on solving that one use case and align all partners and employees around the goals of the pilot. If the business problem you’re trying to solve is too complex or employees don’t understand which problem they are targeting, your partners may have unrealistically high expectations for the pilot’s impact. Only once your initial pilot is complete should you add additional use cases.
Shift your culture by showing the devices in action
Lead by example and enable broad cultural change by showing your workers that the program has buy-in from top executives. The best way to do this is to use the devices themselves to communicate about the program with workers. HR and internal communications partners can help you successfully implement the devices for this use.
The need for a new approach
What’s needed is a new, pragmatic approach to connected programs that are tailored for your business needs. Also, it is important to realize that there isn’t a “best device”, but rather the right device that can get the particular job done. This depends upon the workplace environment, worker requirements and software/other tools needed to complete the task.
A technological steppingstone can help manufacturers achieve their digital transformation goals and realize massive ROI, productivity, safety and knowledge transfer benefits from their connected worker devices.
RealWear is enabling the factory of the future by creating solutions that are purpose built for industrial use. The industrial strength, assisted reality wearable solutions engage, empower, and elevate the modern industrial worker to be more efficient and perform work tasks more safely, with precision.
RealWear hands-free solutions allow industrial workers to intuitively navigate critical applications, documentation, and functions using simple voice commands, even in high-noise environments. A high-resolution micro display sits just below the line of sight, views like a 7” tablet, and can be easily moved out of the way when complete field of vision is needed to accomplish a task.
RealWear assisted reality solutions can be deployed in wet, dusty, hot, dangerous and loud environments with minimal risk of failure. They can withstand a fall of up to 2m without any damage or loss of functionality. The intrinsically safe edition, HMT-1Z1, is the only ATEX Zone 1 rated headset.
RealWear solutions fully integrate with enterprise-class software, security protocols, and with a variety of device management solutions. Over 200 leading software providers have optimized solutions for the micro display and completely voice controlled navigation. The assisted reality solutions enable industrial workers to connect instantly with remote experts using real-time video collaboration.