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Competition for human resources between the military and civilian engineering sectors has created a shortage of skilled maintenance engineers in the military. Although well-funded, the armed forces simply can’t compete with the kind of salaries offered by the civilian commercial sector. The result is that different branches of the military also have to compete with each other.
But a solution is on the horizon, suggested by Kevin Deal, Vice President of Aviation and Defense at IFS. The idea is that a technician wearing an AR headset can see both what he is working on and additional information flashed up in his field of view. This information can be transmitted from a distance – even the other side of the world if necessary.
Deal has pointed out that virtual reality, involving totally immersive simulations, is already used in training. He has suggested that engineers and technicians with more advanced skills can remain at the home base, whilst being able to provide remote assistance via wearable devices worn by technicians in the field
“Current mobile solutions support collaboration and drive better data capture and compliance, but even these devices cannot solve the ‘right skills in the right place’ issue,” Deal said.
He added that “maintenance personnel could of course contact senior technicians via cellphone, but there is no way of seeing or demonstrating how a task should be executed. These are often airworthiness decisions. Integrating the latest technology with a configuration-controlled solution adds the necessary rigor to remote maintenance tasks.”
The alternative would be to recruit more technicians with higher level skills and qualifications – at considerably greater cost – or to fly those high-level technicians to various far-flung locations on an ad hoc basis. Neither of these alternative solutions was all that attractive once one factors in the cost and takes into account the large number of widely separated locations where such skills may be needed at a moment’s notice.
Check out our guide of the Best VR Headsets for 2017