Key Takeaways from TMC 2018
DI ventured its way up to Atlanta for the American Trucking Associations (ATA) Technology & Maintenance Council’s (TMC) 2018 Annual Meeting. TMC gathers trucking’s leading fleet professionals, vehicle manufacturers and component suppliers and hosts over 100 task force meetings to resolve industry critical issues while hosting a variety of educational sessions (at which DI may or may not have spoken).
A common theme arose over the course of the week. As discussed in technical sessions throughout the show floor, there is an exodus of expert technicians due to retirements that threatens asset uptime and maintenance quality. The transportation industry, like many others, is being severely impacted by the baby boomer mass exodus from the workforce.
Fleet Owner estimates the industry will need 67K new technicians over the next few years to just replace retirees – and then another 75K new diesel engine specialists! To put that number in perspective, the Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that there were 279K diesel technicians in 2016 meaning that the trucking industry has to hire another 25% of its workforce. Add to this the challenge in attracting new hires to an industry plagued with an image problem. Knowledge is leaving and it is hard to attract new talent.
Fleet maintenance is extremely complex. A technician has to factor in best practice recommendations coming from the OEM, parts manufacturers, their own organization and personal experiences (in the case of the retiring folks, that’s decades of knowledge). Recruiting the younger generation has been problematic as companies have struggled to overcome the perception of non-ideal working conditions. One question has resonated throughout the industry: “How can we overcome these issues?” Well, Augmented Reality (AR) is an integral part of the solution.
It’s no question that millennials, and their younger generations, have a relatively high comfort level and familiarity with AR. They are responsible for 37% of virtual and augmented reality device ownership, and 44% of people intending on purchasing a device in the future. When most people think of AR and business, their first thought is gaming and technology. By injecting this modern technology in a workforce that seems dated in the minds of young workers, it helps smash the perception of the trucking industry as being dated and makes it more appealing to potential workers.
At the conference we exhibited AUGMENTOR™ powered by Atheer AiR™. AUGMENTORTM is an augmented reality diagnosis and repair application for the Microsoft HoloLens. It helps enterprises author and share knowledge, ultimately supporting standardizing of procedures across the maintenance footprint. New hires can be easily guided through the training process, or figure out solutions after training, while collaborating with a remote expert.
The time and cost savings associated with use of AUGMENTORTM could be massive. Many fleet maintenance departments and part vendors rely on face to face sessions, requiring extensive travel to conduct training, or bring trainees to a centralized location for training.
Now, there is a misconception that the older workforce wouldn’t be willing to use a newer technology. We have had the opportunity to introduce AUGMENTORTM to a variety of fleet maintenance departments and the reaction with the older workforce was similar to that of the younger generation. They are all intrigued and feel it is time to modernize the workplace. Some in the older generation mentioned owning or using augmented reality applications for personnel use. They are ready, even if we don’t realize it.
Meeting these challenges now is key to the transportation industry’s success while ultimately being critical to the success of the US economy. Companies that are able to successfully navigate these workforce issues position themselves to be industry leaders in the not-so-distant future.
Design Interactive has been optimizing human performance at ludicrous speed since 1998. We develop innovative, engaging augmented and virtual reality training solutions and create biosignatures of human emotion, cognition and physical state that empower consumers. To learn more about how we can leverage technology to improve your business processes, contact us here.