At Hannover Messe 2019, PTC presented its new Vuforia® Expert Capture™, a solution developed to empower front-line workers with the relevant information they need for fast and precise operations, thanks to augmented reality (AR). Vuforia Expert Capture creates powerful step-by-step instructions that help industrial enterprises look at document expert knowledge in an easy and fast way. The knowledge acquired can be scaled to new or redeployed workers as hands-on training or task guidance.
This solution solves a critical problem connected to effective knowledge transfer from existing subject matter experts (SMEs) where major skills gap is becoming a potential threat for the industry of the future. Over the next decade, 10 million manufacturing jobs will likely be needed, yet millions are expected to go unfilled, according to a report from Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute. ‘’The advantage of Vuforia is that no advance preparation or development efforts are required to easily create step-by-step instructions for hands-on training and task guidance.
Captured procedures can be fine-tuned in a secure, SaaS-based environment and then dynamically delivered on RealWear HMT-1, Microsoft HoloLens, and mobile devices to front-line workers across the enterprise. Spatial intelligence from HoloLens’ location-aware functionality can be leveraged to safely guide front-line workers through multi-step procedures at different locations improving speed, accuracy, and quality.’’ said Greg Eva, IoT & AR Business Development Manager at PTC.
Strategic alliances with technology leaders
At Hannover Messe, Greg Eva showed us a demonstration of Vuforia Studio technology applied to automotive, ‘’Imagine the potential of this technology in case of complex machines and processes’’ he said during the demo. During these last two years, PTC has been focused on helping companies accelerate digital transformation. Every project of digital transformation needs a lot of components and the deployment of different technology. For end users can be therefore potentially hard to find something like 25 partners to carry out the transformation. PTC has started to investigate new and most effective ways to collaborate with some key technology partners, in order to meet the needs of end users. The partnerships with Rockwell Automation, Microsoft and Ansys are the most interesting strategic alliances announced by PTC in 2018.
How has PTC ended up developing a solution based on Augmented Reality? ‘’PTC started with CAD and PLM transforming the way companies worked with better digital solutions. We then extended our offerings including IoT, which takes all the data from the physical world and brings it back to the digital world to help our customers better leverage their digital data to improve business outcomes. The natural next step was Augmented Reality, which takes all the digital models, configurations, and IoT data, and superimposes them back onto the physical world in a highly consumable and immersive way.’’ explained Greg Eva. The goal of PTC’s Vuforia Augmented Reality is to provide innovative solutions that help customers drive critical product and service differentiation, while developing operational effectiveness and increase workforce productivity and quality.
Using Augmented Reality to transfer knowledge
Vuforia Expert Capture captures knowledge right at a time when specific needs arise without requiring advance preparation or causing disruption to high-value workers. In other words, the strength of this AR solution is that step-by-step instructions for hands-on training and task guidance can be easily created.
Today, new approaches to deliver relevant information to front-line workers are demanded, as well as new skills able to replace the exodus of expertise, due to retiring workers, and to meet the increasing product complexity and customer needs. Relying on traditional hard copy work instructions and basic training methods is not a feasible path anymore for today’s companies, that expect a highly efficient workforce. ‘’Nor can they rely on the memory and skill retention of their operators and technicians to handle the increasing complexity and variation of products and production lines. The more traditional ways of enabling workers to be productive and do their jobs well cannot keep pace with the demands of today’s manufacturing environments.’’ added Mr. Eva.
It is here that Augmented Reality takes the field, as it can offer valuable and quickly available solutions to fulfill the demands of different manufacturing environments, where existing service, maintenance or changeover procedures for equipment are unavailable. ‘’SMEs can easily record instructions on how to perform these critical tasks, which can then be shared with new or redeployed workers for fast, efficient on-the-job guidance. Easy access to standardized instructions in the context of their work environment enables improved worker understanding and increased efficiency, uptime, and quality.’’ explained Mr. Eva. The result is that training costs and productivity time are reduced, and tasks are completed in an better, more accurate and fast way, even though they are unfamiliar to workers.
Advantages and sectors directly involved
Technology based on Augmented Reality like Vuforia can provide value across the whole industrial market, but specifically in sectors such as: Aerospace and Defense, Automotive, Electronics and High Tech, Industrial Products and Life Sciences which are at the forefront of leveraging the power of AR to improve business outcomes.
Generally speaking, we can say that AR increases production flexibility, but not from the point of view of the technology and machines employed but of workforce agility and responsiveness, an aspect that should never be left when facing digital transformation of manufacturing plants.