Augmented Reality (AR) reduces operating cost and risk. It also facilitates training in a variety of work environments and scenarios making it a perfect fit for transit agencies.
In our previous post in the blended learning series, we took a look at the future with an eye on the emerging impacts of mixed realities, such as augmented reality and virtual reality. The transformative power of immersive technology is accelerating workforce development and adding an exciting new dynamic in our daily lives.
You asked, we listened! Due to popular demand this bonus blog will dive deeper into the real-time challenge of transit agencies to safely train employees in risky or safety critical situations. One solution to this challenge is exploring applications for Augmented Reality (AR) and its role in a world-class academy-style training program that champions awareness, cultivates understanding, and develops core competencies.
The main goal of any public transportation agency is moving the people in its community effectively and safely. Alongside this goal comes the real-time challenge of attracting talent, training its employees, and keeping pace with emerging technologies.
The transportation industry of yesterday was forged from carbon-based energy and formed on internal combustion engines and propulsion technologies, a true analog economy. This is changing with requirements such as the Innovative Clean Transit (ICT) regulation dictating the need to shift to reliable and sustainable technology, such as Zero-Emission Buses (ZEB). The successful movement to zero-emission systems builds more than public confidence—it also creates career ladder pathways into the maintenance and public transportation vertical as a collective.
Public transit agencies under the ICT regulation face real workforce development challenges because ZEB technology introduces new systems unfamiliar to operators, mechanics, and technicians. New energy storage and battery systems, fuel cell power plants, and electric propulsion systems are the clean-air, modernized versions of diesel, engines, and transmissions to combustion free green-house gas technologies.
The question that remains for most agencies is how to address that challenge with training material that engages the learner and creates opportunities for maintenance tasks to be performed in an accessible and safe environment. The propulsion systems and fuels are different and bring different hazards with them that are new and unfamiliar. The timing is right to start looking at implementing the training tools of the future.
Developing new ZEB curricula that engage the learner intellectually with blended learning approaches, including mixed reality applications, will ensure that Subject Matter Experts (SME), such as training managers and mechanics, build the competencies they need. Enhancing your training initiatives with academy-style training programs can introduce new career pathways into maintenance and opportunities for non-skilled workers.
Mixed Reality (MR) applications are one way to practice safety-specific, high voltage exposure tasks, or other safety sensitive activities without being exposed to hazards. An academy-style training program provides training and development to transit agencies interested in implementing, maintaining, and sustaining ZEB buses and mitigating risk.
According to the 2019 PWC survey, 79 percent of global CEOs shared concerns regarding a lack of essential workplace skills and that rapid technology evolutions presents a challenge to continued growth. That’s why successful global transit agencies are prioritizing upskilling and reskilling for their training and development needs.
Supporting the new requirements includes accurately monitoring employee skill gaps in a shifting environment and providing appropriate training. In 2020, McKinsey reported that more than 90 percent of executives are experiencing real-time skills gaps in the workforce and are only expecting that number to climb in the next few years. Focusing on maintenance and improving repair versus replacement metrics, will increase cost savings and improve employee morale and retention.
An academy program covers a non-exhaustive list of bus or rail component courses for air systems, brakes, steering and suspension, door operations, electrical systems, such as schematics and ladder logics, computer diagnostic systems, and troubleshooting pathways. Advanced courses are usually taught by third-party providers and often include topics from safety and high voltage awareness to component functionality and troubleshooting diagnostics.
Academy programs with an AR or VR approach helps mechanics understand and apply training augmenting other zero-emission training. They learn how to practice safety measures, perform preventative maintenance, and advanced diagnostics in safe, digital learning environments where the expense and risk is lower.
Adopting zero-emission technology is the goal of most transit agencies, and AR is becoming increasingly recognized for creating value by literally bringing training directly to the factory or shop floor. The tools can be used anywhere, anytime, on-demand and support Just-In-Time (JIT) training in the field. Blended learning programs have been proven to decrease meantime to productivity and naturally creates the by-product of shortening learning curves, and accelerating knowledge transfer between outgoing and incoming generations.
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