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ASK Chemicals Captures Worker Knowledge Using AR

Feb. 16, 2023
Experienced, soon-to-retire specialists gladly document their knowledge and expertise using Librestream technology.

Capturing and transferring the expertise of the large number of employees who will retire from the sector stretches even the most competent organizations. Augmented reality (AR), a technology that manufacturers are using to troubleshoot production lines and improve may also be useful for knowledge transfer.

ASK Chemicals, a manufacturer of industrial resins and coatings, is using AR for field support at its own global locations as well as with customers. Experts can connect remotely and assist inspection, diagnosis and problem solving.

“One of our differentiators, or unique selling proposition, is that we have a large highly-skilled technical service group that travels to troubleshoot problems for our customers,” explains Charles Hoertz, head of Global Digitalization for ASK Chemicals. “In our industry, the expertise of seasoned employees just isn’t replaceable. The knowledge is deep, gained over many years in the field.”

Therefore, the company is very concerned about the current situation where a lot of people are retiring but the field is having trouble attracting newcomers.

“Passing along knowledge is critical,” says Hoertz. But the good news is that the company is finding success in using technology to capture knowledge. “Our experts are thrilled to place their knowledge into digital tools. They don’t view this as impeding on their knowledge but view this as a way to show that really care about the industry. They feel a sense of responsibility towards it and want it to be sustainable.”

While exploring a different business model the company still had to provide service to customers, so they turned to Librestream, whose clients include, Caterpillar, Pratt & Whitney, Toyota, Volvo and Safran, to help with AR. Librestream supported ASK Chemical’s real-time communication and documentation capabilities. The virtual field support system, ASKNow, is being used in 10 countries spanning North and South America and Europe.

The next steps: Integrate ASKNow directly at customer locations through on-site installation, and licensing for expanded technical service benefits.

Librestream has been exploring virtual platforms as knowledge-transfer tools for years, says Charlie Neagoy Librestream’s senior vice president of customer success.

“We understand the demographics and know the challenge of transferring knowledge from a 65-year-old worker to a 25-year-old worker,” Neagoy says. “And, there is the additional challenge of understanding that the new worker will most likely only stay for three years, so how do you transfer that much knowledge knowing at a systemic level.”

AR’s ability to deploy across facilities and provide immediate remote access to experts with step-by-step digital work instructions can speed up the process.

“We need to view the workforce differently as the constraint of workers creates a shift to thinking about how people can work more effectively. Workers now will have to do a variety of tasks and so much acquire skills more quickly, and this technology can assist with that,” says Neagoy.

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