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Stanley Black & Decker goes all in on AI training

Sam Zheng
By Sam Zheng CEO, DeepHow

In 2019, 50 percent of manufacturing workers were more than 44 years-old, skewing heavily toward retirement age. As these millions of workers retire in the coming years, they will take with them decades of expertise and know-how.

Manufacturers urgently need to capture, document, index, and transfer this knowledge to the younger generation of workers. Moreover, as new technology, driven by Industry 4.0, pervades the shop floor, everyone needs to be continuously reskilled or upskilled.

Today’s training techniques are ill-suited to these evolving challenges. Methods used by many manufacturers include training manuals, job shadowing, classroom instruction and sporadic video training. When learning something new, Millennials are almost three times more likely to watch a video than read a manual.

However, traditional video creation and video training management are time consuming, costly and not scalable for enterprises. For example, creating an eight-minute training video involves 17 steps, special equipment, video-editing skills and up to five hours.

Recent advances in AI, especially in NLP (natural language processing), and computer vision are revolutionizing audio and video processing and understanding, condensing that lengthy video-creation process to six steps and just 20 minutes—for a fraction of the cost. Suddenly, video training makes sense for many more uses. By applying AI to a manual-intensive process, we can more quickly bridge the skills gap and easily create on-the-job training that is rich and easy to distribute and consume.

Just as it did for word processing, desktop publishing and 3D printing, technology can empower the experts to capture their real work or demonstration, producing step-by-step training videos. All you need is a smartphone and a subject-matter expert to perform their individual tasks and processes. After the content is captured, it is automatically sent to the cloud, where AI services, such as speech to text, object recognition, image understanding, translation and semantic segmentation are applied, converting this expertise into a ready-to-distribute video to global users speaking different languages.

We’ve been working with Stanley Black & Decker (SBD) to optimize operations by rapidly training on new skills and documenting detailed manufacturing processes. SBD’s priorities are similar to the needs of many manufacturers: creation and enforcement of standard work, cross-training of critical skills, upskilling to Industry 4.0 capabilities and knowledge transfer as their most experienced workers plan for retirement. Add to that the need to operate in a safe, socially distanced manner and DeepHow’s AI-powered, video-based training solution meets all of these requirements.

New employees can access critical training information anytime, anywhere from a Web portal, learning intricate tasks at their own pace without disrupting other workers or interrupting plant operations. Connecticut-based SBD has adopted an AI training platform companywide and sees important benefits throughout the supply chain.

“The most impressive benefit for manufacturers is they can capture and synthesize training information and get it into the hands of those who need it in the most efficient and digestible way possible today,” said Kevin Lemke of Stanley X Venture Studio, the unit that pioneers new technology for internal use. “This means trainers can create the video training they need, when they need it. This nimble approach to training can be applied upstream to suppliers and downstream to partners and customers.” 

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