Productivity in the transportation industry: It’s all about PR!

I need to put out a "call to action" and generate some Public Relations buzz. For the last year, I've been involved with the National Transportation Center as the President of the non-profit foundation (www.NationalTransportationCenter.com). We are focused on building out a large campus just west of Indianapolis to provide training in all types of jobs for transportation—from rigging to driving, from servicing to logistics, from warehouse to consignee, for ships, trains, planes, and trucks. We want to see more disciplined and goal oriented service men and women join the transportation industry. We want the youth of today to understand the many exciting careers in transportation as the Internet of Things (IoT) or, as I prefer to call it, the Internet of Transportation, transforms what we do.

It should not come as a shock that I see potential for technology to help us solve the issues of the workforce and the increasing technological content of our vehicles, infrastructure, and procedures. 

Earlier this year I visited with a few companies that are using advanced forms of Computer Based Training and Visual Based Learning Systems. Late last year, a local non-profit in my hometown of Portland showed how pervasive this technology will be in the near future, and how useful. The Oregon Story Board worked with an early version of the Microsoft Hololens to develop some visual based training for the automotive industry. The group took students from the Clackamas Community College and taught them how to create a virtual reality transmission, showing how the parts are assembled and how they rotate internally. And, this was not just a class project. The result was then given to the automotive students to help them learn more about transmissions. Here are two links you can check out.

http://thomaswester.com/hacking-hololens/2016/10/6/holographic-transmission

http://www.opb.org/radio/article/oregon-story-board-microsoft-hololens-education/

This work, in my opinion, is far superior to the simplified demos of virtual reality that some suppliers have provided at the trade shows in the last year. 

Yesterday, a gauntlet was laid down by Apple. They introduced an augmented reality developer kit call ARKit. (http://appleinsider.com/articles/17/06/05/arkit-augmented-reality-tools-in-ios-11-will-make-iphone-ipad-biggest-ar-platform-worldwide) Within 1-3 years, over one hundred million portable iOS devices will be showing high-quality, augmented-reality videos for anything and everything. Yes, there will be games, but they will take gamification for drivers trying to save fuel to technicians training to get better and faster at diagnosing and repairing. Imagine getting high schoolers to be playing augmented reality/virtual reality games where the goal is to diagnose a vehicle or repair the hypoid gears in an axle. Expose them to the intricacies of the guts of an engine in this way and they just might fall in love with them, much as you did when you tore one apart with your dad or uncle. Tear it apart in virtual reality first.

Today, an article in the Wall Street Journal highlighted the current and near-future use for training, including by Oshkosh, Wal-Mart and United Rental. (https://www.wsj.com/articles/virtual-reality-finally-catches-onwith-businesses-1496664000?tesla=y)

FLIP or FLOP

Yes, this is the name of a popular series of TV programs on Home and Garden. But, FLIP is also a term in education. Instead of listening to a boring lecture in school and then working incorrectly to do homework at home, alone, flip it around. Have the student watch an entertaining video/lecture at home (possibly with parents involved), then do the homework in class where the teacher can immediately help with any problems. I had a chance to talk with the people doing training for aerospace assembly jobs as part of the Edmonds Community College https://edcc.edu/workforce/aerospace/default.html. In this program, the majority of the training is done via computer based training at the convenience of the student. The final training and certification is done on-campus, in-person before a certified instructor. Cost to the student is significantly reduced with this approach. Time to train is also improved, as the training is done at the speed most appropriate for each individual. I think this approach has great opportunity in the transportation industry. Much of what a driver needs to learn, for instance, is book work, not being behind the wheel driving the vehicle. In fact, some of the behind the wheel training can and should be done in a simulator that can safely simulate various emergency situations that might arise. Pilots are part of the transportation industry and do much of their training in this way. It maximizes the benefit of the time in the cockpit and could do the same for the time in the seat behind the wheel. For a technician, he/she could tear apart the engine, after-treatment, transmission, axle, or break in virtual/augmented reality for training and then demonstrate it in real life. It would save tremendously on the amount of up-to-date equipment that is needed for vocational training.

Whether you call it virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality, (https://www.foundry.com/industries/virtual-reality/vr-mr-ar-confused or https://futurism.com/images/vr-ar-and-mr-whats-the-difference-infographic-2/) as an industry, we need to be involved more than we are now. I noticed on the Wingnut AR demo for the Apple announcement that they had a way to simply drag and drop items onto the scene. As an industry, we could be developing the standardized part descriptions for gears, valves, connectors, wires, brackets, pistons, rings, etc. That would make it easy for computer based learning in the near future. That's my call to action. Let's get started creating the virtual components that reflect real-world parts that will be needed. 

Perception is Reality! Let's get the next generation excited about learning to work productively in the transportation industry. Let's get military personnel teaming together, using some of the computer based training techniques that they have used. Transportation careers are limitless and fun. Let's convince people of that. Without transportation, we don't get food, clothing, drinks, entertainment or vacation trips. It's all about PR!

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