Virtual reality could be the next big certification tool in robotic manufacturing.
the Institute of Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing announced today that it will launch a virtual reality credential assessment prototype for robotic manufacturing. This means that the ARM Institute and its partners will offer existing manufacturing workers the opportunity to officially certify their work experience via virtual reality.
The new initiative will continue the institute’s current work in providing resources for teaching robotic manufacturing skills in an effort to promote economic and workforce development. ARM’s partners in this initiative are the Lake Forest, Calif.-based VR software company. SimInsights, based in Hicksville, Ohio APT Manufacturing Solutions and New York-based data-driven learning systems company IBL Education.
The prototype aims to reduce inefficiencies in the current certification process and allow more employees to officially add new skills to their resumes. This comes as the need for advanced robotic manufacturing increases, in what is known as the fourth industrial revolution, or industry 4.0. Providing financial support to the project is the Office of the Secretary of Defense Manufacturing Technology Program. Although the platform is still in its early stages, it will be available to any business or institution with an Oculus Quest 2.
“Currently, in the field of robotics, there are very few degrees that people can earn”, Linda Wood, the ARM Institute’s senior certification manager, said Technically. Usually, employees who wish to obtain credentials must do so through a robot manufacturing company that offers them for the equipment used there, or through schools and training programs before starting their career in the field.
“There are many men and women who have worked in fabrication shops, where robotics has been incorporated, and yet they haven’t received any additional outside training or certification to show that they now have this additional skill. “
“We think there’s a gap – a very big gap – where there are a lot of men and women who have worked in manufacturing shops, where robotics has been incorporated, and yet they haven’t received any additional outside training or certification showing that they now have those additional skills, abilities and knowledge,” Wood said.
The new VR platform that this initiative offers for this certification aims to fill this gap, she said, by simulating a variety of manufacturing scenarios and challenges that workers of any age or skill level can face to obtain certifications. This first launch of the platform will be for a robotics technician certification assessment.
In addition to increasing the workforce potential for current manufacturers both in and outside the robotics industry, this new assessment technology will likely also be attractive to employers. Where manufacturers might currently need to pause the use of a machine or system for individual certification, the VR platform will allow them to seamlessly continue operations while providing those assessments. Additionally, Wood said, it reduces the risk of damage to machinery or disruption to workers, improving overall operational efficiency.
Wood also sees the potential of this platform in the future of robotic manufacturing education.
“It could also become a tool for schools that have robotic programs, to put their students through this assessment at the end,” she said. “And then they also enter the labor market with an ARM [Institute] proof. »
The expansion of qualifications and other vocational training assessments is important for the national and local economy. Pittsburgh’s increased reliance on the robotics industry with the high concentration of autonomous vehicles, industrial robotics, autonomous mobile robots and similar technologies in adjacent industries mean that the city will need a strong support system to help these businesses grow even further.
“We’re in a massive labor shortage right now,” Wood said of the need for workers across all sectors of the robotics industry. “And there are a lot of people who have skills related to the robotics industry that they don’t even know are related to the robotics industry.”
While the ARM Institute provides services to employers and employees nationwide, Wood emphasized that part of his goal is to continue to make Pittsburgh a robotics capital of the world: “We want to serve the members of the Institute of Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing who live right here in our own backyard, as well as nationwide.
Sophie Burkholder is a 2021-2022 corps member of Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by Heinz endowments. -30-