Feb. 15, 2021

How to Train Augmented Workers

Augmented reveals the stories behind the new era of industrial operations, where technology will restore the agility of frontline workers. In episode 2 of the podcast, the topic is how to train augmented workers. Our guest is Elisa Roth, doctoral student at the Institute for Manufacturing at the University of Cambridge in the UK, a Global Shaper by the World Economic Forum.

In this conversation, we talk about what industrial augmentation is and what industry 4.0 is. We discuss the training challenge in industrial operations, specifically the need to go beyond the traditional approach of formal training, apprenticeships, and on-the-job observation. I get her take on emerging training needs, what are the exact industry 4.0 skills we should be teaching? How to teach it and scale the teaching? Advice on how to learn and design learning journeys. Lastly, we discuss future developments: where is the manufacturing industry heading?

My takeaway is that training augmented workers will have to happen in a much more streamlined way than previous training efforts. As Elisa Roth points out, first off, the organization needs to be on board with its workers integrating training into their workday. There is a lot of training available, but it might be of various quality, it might be hard to find exactly when you need it, and it may be hard to verify and get credit for informal learning. In short, it is going to require trust, as well.

After listening to this episode, check out the Institute for Manufacturing at the University of Cambridge in the UK, the Global Shaper Program by the World Economic Forum, as well as Elisa Roth's online profile:

  • The Institute for Manufacturing at the University of Cambridge in the UK: https://www.ifm.eng.cam.ac.uk/
  • The Global Shaper Community by the World Economic Forum: https://www.globalshapers.org/
  • Elisa Roth: https://www.linkedin.com/in/elisa-roth/

Augmented is a podcast for leaders in the manufacturing industry hosted by futurist Trond Arne Undheim, presented by Tulip.co, the manufacturing app platform, and associated with MFG.works, the open learning community launched at the World Economic Forum. Our intro and outro music is The Arrival by Evgeny Bardyuzha (@evgenybardyuzha), licensed by @Art_list_io. The show can be found at http://www.augmentedpodcast.co/

Thanks for listening. If you liked the show, subscribe at Augmentedpodcast.co or in your preferred podcast player, and rate us with five stars on Apple Podcasts. To nominate guests,  to suggest exciting episode topics or give feedback, follow us on LinkedIn, looking out for live episodes, message us on Twitter @augmentedpod or our website's contact form. If you liked this episode, you might also like episode 3 on Reimagine Training, which will be live on Wednesday 17 Feb 2021. Augmented--the industry 4.0 podcast.


Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:00:00] Augmented reveals the stories behind the new era of industrial operations or technology will restore the agility of frontline workers. Augmented is a podcast for leaders hosted by futurist Trond Arne Undheim, presented by Tulip.co, the manufacturing app platform and associated with MFG.Works, the manufacturing upskilling community launched at the World Economic Forum. Each episode dives deep into a contemporary topic of concern across the industry and airs at 9:00 AM us Eastern time, every Wednesday. Augmented the industry 4.0 podcast.

[00:00:39] In episode two of the podcast, the topic is how to train augmented workers. Our guest is Lisa Roth, doctoral student at the Institute for Manufacturing at the University of Cambridge in the UK, a global shaper by the world economic forum.

[00:00:54] In this conversation, we talk about what industrial augmentation is and what industry point. We know, as we discussed the training challenge and industrial operations, formal training apprenticeships, and on the job observation, I get her take on trainings. What are the exact industry 4.0 skills we should be teaching how to teach it and scale the teaching, advise on how to learn and design learning journeys, and we discuss future developments.

[00:01:23] How are you today?

[00:01:25] Elisa Roth, U of Cambridge: [00:01:25] Good. Thanks Trond. Thanks for having me here today.

[00:01:29] Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:01:29] Sure. I'm excited to be talking about manufacturing. At least you have an interesting background. You were a doctoral student at a university of Cambridge at the Institute of manufacturing, which must surely be a fascinating place to, to study , and work.

[00:01:44] But one thing that fascinated me almost more than the stuff we're going to be talking about was that you learned to drive forklifts when you were 12.

[00:01:53] Elisa Roth, U of Cambridge: [00:01:53] Yes, absolutely. So I think my passion for manufacturing or just creating things reach is basically back to my, my grandpa who had who was an Organ builder and had a wonderful workshops for building wooden instruments.

[00:02:09] And on the other hand, we had a neighbor, for the farm and a small plumbing business. And because I initially started being super excited about that hard, that. Animals on the farm. But with that, I started, I'm supporting in my, in my holidays working in the planning business  so also I learned driving the fork forklifter there and driving around round hay or, or metal parts.

[00:02:34] And for me, that was very exciting, but it then turned out for my first internships and in some manufacturing company that it's actually a quite useful skill to have. Wow, you are definitely breaking new ground. And I think that's super exciting. So you are also a global shaper of the world economic forum and What we are talking about today, I think is, is really this important topic of, of training the new kinds of  in the new skills and training the new work or the augmented worker.

[00:03:05] Tell me a little bit , in terms of in terms of this topic, DD, augmented worker, or even just all of these,  industry 4.0 skills that are flying around there. What is, what is this topic about? What, what are the, the things that matter in you know, to you, for instance, let's, let's just start with industrial sort of augmentation.

[00:03:24] What, what is it, what does that mean? So it's basically, or augmentation is about augmenting natural human abilities. And this is actually not something new. So that has been around for ages. Even, some centuries ago we started inventing glasses to augment human vision, but what we are, so the stage we are.

[00:03:45] Now it's basically that we have the chance to not only replace or supplement human abilities, but even exceed natural human abilities. And this, this is not something scary, but I think this is just something how things are evolving with, for example, the first smartphone and all that new technology we have.

[00:04:06] So it's giving people access to, to new capabilities that they wouldn't usually do. And when we talk about augmentation in the work context, it's basically, helping humans to do their work better, or have a, you have more opportunities to, to do work better.  If we talk augmentation , there are a couple of areas that we can augment.

[00:04:32] And this range is really from the traditional way of augmenting sensors or this, this information collection side, but it also can also be about augmenting and, and analytics skills or information processing skills. But, beyond that, there, we have also opportunities to augment knowledge management, but always novel technologies .

[00:04:58] Other things that are more sophisticated, like decision-making support all those new machine learning and AI capabilities offered by now. And then we also have some. Some more realms of augmentation that reach further into the communication and collaboration side. So actually augmenting the interaction between  humans themselves.

[00:05:24] And I think this is quite exciting, the  whole range that augmentations  spends here. So you're right. It's a whole range,  but like you pointed out, some people are also scared. And if you are from the worker's side of this equation, right. There's  a lot of fear about automation perhaps more than augmentation, although if people delve into augmentation, maybe that could become scary too.

[00:05:48] Can you tell us about the. Traditional ways that skills are taught in manufacturing and also some of your ideas on, on maybe the kinds of different teaching methods that we need to deploy now with these new challenges. Yeah, absolutely. The traditional way of teaching and manufacturing was actually, you do a formal education and this is a three years apprenticeship or, or a little bit more or less.

[00:06:18]But generally a very formal and standardized format you go through and beyond that, there's also a university where you probably dive more into the engineering side, but still, this is a very rigid systems that provide you with skills that  are expected to be useful for a couple of decades.

[00:06:38] And then there's the other side of learning and training that happens only on the job. So the non-formal side, which is basically learning from colleagues and talking to colleagues, observing colleagues digging , through Burkins tractions and pay for manuals. So those are the two quite traditional forums, how learning and development takes place in the manufacturing industry.

[00:07:05] what we see now is that we kind of reached the boundaries of set that. So we see complexity is rising. New customization increases. We have a lot more product variants that we used to have. And in addition to that, the workforce is aging. So all the experts we used to have  are now retiring and the manufacturing industry's really struggling to attract new talent.

[00:07:34] Especially in the, in the regions that they're usually concentrated and , this really rise to the questions? How, we can, can improve learning and find new approaches to that since we really at the limit with the traditional approaches, and this is where augmentation really kicks in and has a huge potential in the sense of helping and supporting humans instead of replacing them. And, yeah. So,  in the future there's a lack of hope and using technologies really to to facilitate knowledge transfer but also to have a shift from what we used to have , just in case upskilling to a rather a more just in time or on demand up-skilling when we use, for example, Augmented reality training programs or virtual reality training simulations, or even just,  well documented mobile work instructions.

[00:08:38] Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:08:38] Hmm. What do you think is that learning journey for a typical manufacturing worker? Let's just take a small and medium enterprise somewhere in Europe and let's say they are starting to explore some of these more digital factory skills or they're, they're basically upgrading their, their factories, maybe getting some robots, some automation, some apps on the factory floor. What is the approach one should take? And, you know, if you want to be a little concrete, what kinds of skills do you start with?

[00:09:09] And then, you know, so what are the basic skills of this new landscape? And then what are the more advanced skills in this new landscape?

[00:09:16]Elisa Roth, U of Cambridge: [00:09:16] I think one, one thing that I really want to emphasize here, is that we, if we talk about learning journeys, it's not only about the individual. So what we usually have to do before is really start with this lifelong learning culture.

[00:09:31] And there's this really something that we can design amazing learning path, amazing content. But if this is not supported from the biter organization this usually doesn't have legs. So the first thing in every company is really create space for more learning and  embedding the notion of lifelong learning into the culture because , it's really a new thinking to set, put time aside during employees, everyday life to learn new things, because this is time that is still considered and that it's being taking away from productive operations time, but this is the first thing before we talk about learning journeys that that needs to be can, just supported by companies.

[00:10:21] But if that's the case and companies say, okay, we really want to identify opportunities to, to embed learning into the daily life. Then we can talk about specific skills . Those specific skills are  starting I think that the most important thing is really this problem solving and critical thinking skill because whatever will happen.

[00:10:47]When the complexity rises, you're assigned to a new, new work station. You are assigned to a new product. You have to use new tools. And this is always this kind of analyzing the situation, identifying. What resources you might need to fulfill your task, what information you need to fulfill your task.

[00:11:10] And this is hugely or in the traditional way, what we consider as problem solving skills and critical thinking skills. And I think all the jobs that won't be automated automatically be relying, relying quite heavily on this. Using human cognitive skills more effectively.

[00:11:31]Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:11:31] , well, it's fascinating to me that you start there because it's almost the opposite of what one might think, because it's easy to sort of assume that , this industry upgrading has to do with technology and that your first suggestion would be to take a class in 3d printing or something.

[00:11:49] You know, or something random, or even just computer science or AI or something very fascinating and fluffy. But you're suggesting something fairly basic, but also something very difficult because I guess that's going to be my next question. How do you go about teaching these things?

[00:12:10] Because people are not I guess necessarily in school, you were talking about taking out of your everyday Workday. And these are, in our example, that workers that might just be on the shop floor, they don't have an office, they don't have books. They traditionally, perhaps don't even use a computer in their day-to-day work, or at least they use the computer differently because it might just be used as a checking manual for your work process.

[00:12:36] So this is a pretty radical leap. For somebody who has not been like you and I, in school, all of our lives, how do you even begin fostering that in an organization? And as an individual, how do you start. Yeah, absolutely. So from an individual perspective, this is always about self directed learning.

[00:12:59] Elisa Roth, U of Cambridge: [00:12:59] So if you kind of see that you're, you got afraid that you might, your job might be at risk, then it's really okay. Where can I look for, for learning offers where I can upskill myself and this ranges from doing online courses, but really. Asking asking, but then the companies, but what offers they might provide and really being proactive here.

[00:13:24] And usually the experience is if people want to learn and if they show a willingness to learn even most executives or production managers are at the stage where they really can't completely close themselves and say, Oh no, you're not getting this opportunity to so really be persistent if you want to learn and then really try to find ways and the other way.

[00:13:49] From an organization outside is the conscious thing I mentioned. And I think this is also not something new. So we've seen that the whole lean philosophy basically builds on having empowered workers that take ownership of their process. And I think this is something. Oh, so that we need to keep in mind that there is no successful digitalization without lean.

[00:14:14] And we have learned a lot about process re-engineering and that we can shorten iteration loops and decision-making cycles. If we give the operator more responsibilities and more decision-making power, and this is where the technology comes in, that you can really. Maybe provide guidance for, for critical thinking and say, have you dabbled check this?

[00:14:39] Is there anything that occurs unusual to you and maybe using technology as a reflection support, or yeah, just some guidance that he would read, usually get an in classic and lean methods or Linberg shops. This could be one approach, but I think in general, and this is something that needs to be fostered by the coach or to really say, Hey, we want you to have to think more about the work you do.

[00:15:07] And. If we then also reward that. So really people that, that take on this kind of practice attitude and that take ownership of processes that they get that they're recognized for that, and also recognized for learning successes. It is the case that you have half an hour Slack time and you take out, you use your mobile phone or your book computer to, to watch some YouTube tutorials or some other online courses really make sure as a manager or enterprise to reward this behavior changes because otherwise a momentum or the motivation can quickly dry off.

[00:15:49] And this is not, not the thing you want.

[00:15:53] it's interesting, for you. It's a continuum between lean and, and sort of, I guess, digital lean. It's not a discontinuity. You think that there are, there's a lot that we have learned about manufacturing throughout the last, I dunno, 20 years that we still have to keep.

[00:16:07] Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:16:07] It's not like we're throwing it all out with. Digitalization you know, there are some new elements and ways of learning things and, obviously something in the manufacturing processes is, changing fairly radically. But do you think the experience with lean so presumably organizations that have already tried to implement lean are on the way to this new world?

[00:16:31] Elisa Roth, U of Cambridge: [00:16:31] Yes. I definitely think that is a highly Yeah, accelerating factor. And this makes the whole digitalization and argumentation journey a lot easier.

[00:16:45] Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:16:45] Can you give me some examples of where you go to learn about this, give it give me a sense of how your projects have evolved. So you're at Cambridge, it said Institute from in your practicing.

[00:16:55] I can imagine you have a lot of different industry collaborations. How do some of those work and,  how have you picked up these these tips and, how is your research evolving on this evolution of the manufacturing industry? . What our research team is doing that we look very closely, always on both sides.

[00:17:13] Elisa Roth, U of Cambridge: [00:17:13] So the technology provider side and the technology uses side by understanding both perspectives and really talking to people testing technologies, it's a lot about testing, experimenting. What is possible. And then really trying testing that and real life environment. So this is something, something we do that.

[00:17:38]Probably can also be transferred quite easily to, every other context your have to drive large scale experiments that are statistically statistically significant, but just do pilots and document your learnings. And this is definitely something that helps. And then. What we do is a lot of observations.

[00:17:59] So of course that's quite difficult through sort of the pandemic, but usually we visit companies. We talk to the brokers, we talked with the employees and really try to learn as much as possible from the people that actually use the technology, which sounds very straightforward, but unfortunately isn't always the case and in research .

[00:18:22] And the same with technology providers. Talking to, to all the people who are at the forefront of technology development . Then, testing, experimenting ourselves. If we think we have a new way to, to make things better.

[00:18:38]Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:18:38] You said it's not always so easy to learn, is that because the people you interviewed don't really know what it is that they do well and not so well, or is it just because it's hard to actually get to the core of of our situation, when you get to a factory it's not so easy, let's say, you know, that the factory is doing well. It's not so easy to sort of glean why it's doing well or to really get under the, under the hood. Is that what you're talking about?

[00:19:05] Elisa Roth, U of Cambridge: [00:19:05] I think the one, the point I was actually making is that we can't visit any factories at the moment due to the pandemic. So , we're just not able to, to talk to them and really get those deep insights anymore during the last year. But , if we are there I think it's usually it is possible. If you talk to five or six people, you really. You realize usually  quite quickly where the pain points are and where the things are that maybe are going well

[00:19:36]Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:19:36] Can't you do these interviews online or is it so remote and so different from the factory situation that you haven't been able to do a lot of your research online?

[00:19:45]Elisa Roth, U of Cambridge: [00:19:45] It is different, so we can definitely do a lot of very. Very productive and the fact of workshops with, with managers and, and production but we really see this kind of digital gap in our research that it's a lot harder for us to reach people who have not used digital technologies in their daily life. And those, if we reach them, this is, it's just a different atmosphere than just being with the people in their daily, in their daily life and really accepting and adapting to their environment.

[00:20:25] So that's definitely something where we as researchers have to find alternatives to get the same depth of knowledge as we used to use to get.

[00:20:39] Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:20:39] EIisa, can I ask her a little bit about  how you yourself stay up to date on, on what's happening? I would imagine, you know, Cambridge that Institute you work at is a very fruitful environment with a lot of other researchers.

[00:20:52] And you said you obviously are in touch with industry, to learn yourself, you know, in your actual research, what are some other places that people who may not be a full-time researchers in manufacturing, but they really want to track these trends. Perhaps they are a part of, you know environments like the world economic forum, or perhaps they just are, from companies that realize,  we are managing a lot of people here and we are going to need to change.

[00:21:16] What are some of the best sources of information on the evolution of industry 4.0 you know, from your perspective.

[00:21:24]Elisa Roth, U of Cambridge: [00:21:24] So I think the, the white papers and the reports from very interdisciplinary consortia as the world economic forum are a wonderful source to start it because those sources I usually collected  from very dedicated people with very diverse backgrounds, and they really spend a lot of time on collating those resources. So yeah, this would be maybe the first, first place to look at. Similarly that that accounts for Technology or consulting companies who are also do a lot of quite nicely prepared and bite-sized resources to the most relevant topics.

[00:22:05] And I understand that this is super important because not everyone has the time to read like 20 pages, long academic journals, which is just not feasible. Other things what I quite like is that a lot of the technology providers put a lot of efforts in providing amazing materials and resources really ranging from, from reap free webinars , to presenting use cases of how one could potentially use the technology towards recommendations or white papers and how to get started with technologies.

[00:22:42] And I think this is a really valuable source to, to look at. Many different technology providers and use the material there they've already provided.  And then there are then there are magazines. So in the UK, for example, it's The Manufacturer where they usually have quite, quite. Timely and relevant articles, not so sure about, about the U S but I'm sure that there are some, some magazines that, that, that come out at, by now also address quite relevant topic.

[00:23:15] And, yeah, and if you're super keen, I still encourage people to read some academic journals. For example, computers, industrial engineering, it might be nice to get to a different, different perspective on things.

[00:23:30]Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:23:30] Maybe this is me, but I've been surprised at how accessible actually a lot of academic work has become these days because there clearly are these deeper journals with,  a lot of methodology.

[00:23:41] That's hard to understand, but you can also just skip over that section quite quickly. And there are, there are some other parts of those even fairly long papers and, , you can actually glean a lot of insight even from reading. Academic research from, far, far away from your own expertise.

[00:23:58] I wanted to ask you just as we are closing on future development, what's next here with the augmented worker, the topic itself is futuristic, but what are we likely to see? How is this going to go? Is that okay? The manufacturing industry historically has been, maybe not the fastest moving of all of all industries.

[00:24:18] And there is, as we have talked about this skills gap, What is likely to happen in this industry over this kind of next decade? It gonna move faster now or does it all depend on how much training is implemented? What are the blockers and what are the enablers.

[00:24:34] Elisa Roth, U of Cambridge: [00:24:34] Yeah. So really talking about future developments I think that there will be also induced by the pandemic, a huge shift and providing access to digital technologies to really almost every frontline burger King looking forward into the next decade. So even if it's just very simple mobile phones or some, some smart watches or wristbands for, for safety things, I think this is something that is really here to stay. So basic communication and collaboration features and some process tracking things and reporting things were really, I think this is something that is on a quite successful journey already and here to stay . Regarding high-level things like augmented reality and virtual reality, as you mentioned that those usually usually take some more time to be implemented and challenges here are definitely costs, but also Offering or development efforts that are still quite high to actually produce your own procedures and training programs.

[00:25:44] So this is definitely something that is holding back the technology on that front, but enabler of course, is the need for training. And this will also accelerate the adoption of augmented reality and virtual reality. And I think just general trends, which are. Already, tackle it by the research and hopefully finding their way in the manufacturing reality are things like personalized Work instructions, procedures and also training content.

[00:26:17] So the notion of acknowledging that people are different and adapting the content of technologies to different skill levels. I think there's a, something really exciting to watch in the future when those technologies adopt more and more. To the individual. Yeah. And hopefully looking, being very futuristic the outlook of having smart assistants.

[00:26:43] So technology that you can ask for providing on demand knowledge. So the Siri for manufacturing, but there, we really still have a, quite a long way to go.

[00:26:56] Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:26:56] Well, that's exciting because that means we can talk more. I look forward to staying up to date on what you're doing. Thank you so much for being on Augmented today.

[00:27:05] Elisa Roth, U of Cambridge: [00:27:05] Thanks Trond. Have a great day.

[00:27:08] Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:27:08] You have just listened to episode two of the Augmented podcast with host Trond Arne Undheim. The topic was how to train augmented workers. And our guests was Elisa Roth, doctoral student at the Institute for Manufacturing at the University of Cambridge in the UK, a global shaper by the World Economic Forum.

[00:27:29] In this conversation, we talked about what industrial augmentation is and what industry 4.0 is. We discussed the training challenge in industrial operations, whether it's formal training apprenticeships or on the job observation, I get her take on training needs and what exactly the industry 4.0 skills are that we should be teaching. We also discuss future developments.

[00:27:56] My takeaway is that training augmented workers will have to happen in a much more streamlined way than previous training efforts as Elisa Roth points out first off the organization needs to be on board with its workers, integrating training into the workday. There is a lot of training available, but it might be a various quality.

[00:28:15] It might be hard to find exactly when you need it. And it may be hard to verify and get credit for informal trainin. In short, it's going to require trust. As well. Thanks for listening. If you like the show, subscribe, at augmented podcast.co or in your preferred podcast and rate us with five stars. If you'd like this episode, you might also like episode three on Re-imagined training.

[00:28:40] Augmented-- the industry 4.0 podcast.

Elisa Roth Profile Photo

Elisa Roth

Industrial Researcher, The Institute for Manufacturing, University of Cambridge

A doctoral student at the Institute for Manufacturing at the University of Cambridge in the UK, a Global Shaper by the World Economic Forum, Elisa has a degree in industrial engineering from Technische Universität Darmstadt. Her PhD research focusses on the impact of intelligent worker support systems in cyber-physical production systems. She has previously contributed to publications in the field of machine learning in business informatics.
- She has been involved in technology consulting, product innovation and business development functions in corporations, start-ups and SMEs, including McKinsey&Company, STABILO, MWH Global, and Hafner. Moreover, she has been active with Engineers without Borders leading a water infrastructure and microfinance project in Kenya. She is a scholar of the Foundation of German Business (sdw) and recently received the "Next Generation Women Leaders Award" by McKinsey&Company.