The tech industry has always been keen to provide management tools that allow organizations to become smarter. So new technology almost naturally tended to aim at the white collar worker. After all, this is where you would find the executives who need to make smart business decisions.
But decisions are one thing, and there is certainly no question that they will impact the course of the business like nothing else. But operations are definitely at the core of a company. They are the fuel that drives the business. They provide the sheer numbers that make a tangible difference. Yet all of that is very often the realm of the blue collar worker.
Therefore, smart technology cannot just ignore the needs of the blue collar worker any longer. In fact, this is why we are currently experiencing a shift, a disruption if you will. As many businesses need to make sure they do not lose momentum, technology providers aim at the blue collar worker. Because that is the ultimate front line where the wheat separates from the chaff. And enterprise wearables are at the forefront of that trend.
Shift towards the blue collar worker
Bringing new workers up to speed is a key objective in most organizations. Yet while there is little room to disagree, time is an asset that many businesses are notoriously lacking. Therefore, onboarding and training programs are often cut short – which immediately impacts their quality. The risk of damaging expensive equipment is yet another restricting factor in that regard. However, wearable technology in business may be a way to make ends meet in that equation, as they provide a safe yet realistic training ground upon which newbies can quickly learn the job they are hired to do.
But there is more to that kind of scenario: Enterprise wearables can also help organizations establish a greater sense of fairness. Take promotions for one. Very often the subsequent decisions to be made are tricky and leave workers upset with frustrations over suspected bias. This is the context in which AR tools can help generate real life scenarios to set up an objective basis for these decisions. That not only assuages potential anger, it also raises worker’s morale and motivation.
But wearable AR devices can also help resolve issues much faster. Particularly so if the solutions of enterprise wearables require technological expertise that many users just do not have. Having a subject matter expert travel to a site to take a look and repair what needs to be fixed can be time consuming and costly. By the help of AR on the other hand, tech whizzes can just connect to a venue. They then guide the onsite staff to quickly resolve the problem at hand.
All of that said, it goes without saying that the technological needs of the blue collar worker include a design that takes their daily routines into account. In other words: enterprise wearables design needs to be rugged and ergonomic at the same time or else workers will not be likely to use the new tools.
In general, industrial enterprise wearables promote a decentralized work approach. The data they enable is literally put in the hands of the workers on the shopfloor. Yet this certainly does not mean that decision makers are cut off from the flow of critical information. On the contrary, wearable technology tends to come with means for bi-directional communications. This removes the need to walk back to a stationary device to enter the data. This not only eliminates an unnecessary burden, it also helps raise quality as workers are less likely to make mistakes or lose data.
Free hands for a faster and safer way of working
But this is not the only considerable relief enterprise wearables in industries can provide. Even more important is the fact that they let human workers keep their hands free. That way, they do not have to reach for their tools let alone search for them. Instead, workers can just focus on their actual job, which is also a critical security factor. Think about high bay warehouse workers for instance who pick items in great heights. They are far less likely to drop the items they are working with if they have their hands free. Technology can boost safety even further, because wearable technology can be equipped with alerting capabilities that can interact with industrial vehicles, such as forklifts or tugger trains. This will prevent physical damages or injuries.
Apart from that, alerting capabilities in wearable technology can improve quality, as they can prevent common errors before they occur. For example, workers will receive a warning message on their device when a wrong item is picked in a logistics warehouse. However, it is desirable for the front line use to have these alerts render a multi-dimensional approach; i.e. a combination of visual, audio, and haptic signals so that users benefit effortlessly in their work environments (which may be noisy or dark).
While some of the more traditional wearable use cases are very down to earth there is room for visionaries as Facebook has just demonstrated by announcing plans for a brain controlled wearable. Yet above all, wearables represent a potential that extends the reach of technology and removes some very stubborn roadblocks that have been in the way of the blue-collar workers in particular.