AR – Meeting the Industrial Enterprise needs in manufacturing

My clients ask, “How can AR make our production staff and manufacturing process more efficient?”
Is there a solution for us to easily move people from one place, where demand is low to another place where demand is high and still keep up quality and productivity? Today’s flexible approach requires a workforce that can be mobilized quickly and placed in a variation of sites both internally and externally, but also flexibility presents additional challenges to overcome, such as different environments requiring familiarization – health and safety for example.

Specific solutions like AR remote assistance as well as AR knowledge capture and transfer already exist and are benefiting manufacturing business today.

These solutions can be implemented with speed as more complex, bespoke and long-term enterprise end-to-end connectivity solutions are designed, developed, and deployed.

My answer is yes! AR can help manufacturing companies document and thrive from this existing tacit knowledge.
Then I am able to explain how solutions are readily available and viable today. Specific solutions like AR remote assistance, as well as AR knowledge capture and transfer, are benefiting business today.

These solutions will not force you into long development cycles before any business advantage is achieved. In fact, these solutions are so simple and easy to understand and to use, that you will get valuable results immediately.

So simple, that in my opinion it is a harder challenge to convince some this is really so, than it is to try it and adapt it. How many times do we all deal with that situation? But it is simple, and I suggest these practical and adoptable solutions should be put in production without delay. Speed of implementation unlocks short term business benefits immediately, whilst the longer-term benefits begin to accumulate from day one. The expert best practices in turn become the new standard practices!

These solutions can be used as more complex, bespoke and long-term enterprise connectivity solutions are designed, developed, and deployed.

We call this, The Visual Transformation Journey. In short – What could you do, what should you do, and in what order?

Staying, and being competitive often boils down to, how efficient the organization is and, how to adapt new ways of working and with new types of content and tools that optimize our manual operations?

This boils down to three big categories:

Expert collaboration and remote support
Capturing and optimizing critical manual workflows
Worker training and learning

But what does this actually mean and how can you as a manufacturing company get started to improve these critical three big categories?
The Visual Transformation Journey
This approach factors into the equation that every company and organization is different. Existing processes are formed by a mix of systems, tools and information driven by ongoing business needs, but all have unique challenges.

In most situations the most experienced workers are outnumbered by the non-experienced. Passing on knowledge in any standard environment takes time, and money through shadowing experts and labour intensive documentation practices.

So could the skill gap be closed with the help of AR? In my previous blog “Getting things done remotely, in a world that almost changed overnight”– I touched upon the oil and gas sector simply utilizing AR as a tool to roll out across remote drilling platforms, deep in the world’s oceans which allows untrained staff to carry out a range of tasks.

The positive impact on Health and Safety, as well as cost savings mean this sector is pushing ahead with both short terms solutions whilst investing into long term holistic Enterprise connectivity solutions – now.

That’s short term, what example of long term can I offer? Long term the ability to empower expert knowledge on the whole staff will lead to the cost of scrap material in the process as well as asset modernization and maintenance being vastly reduced, also the need to rework will decrease significantly. It will be easier to move staff from low demand areas to high demand, whilst keeping costs to basic workplace orientation to a minimal

I intend to discuss longer term benefits in more detail within my next blog, in doing so providing a full walk through on how organizations can gain more long term benefits from a holistic connection to Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

But for now, I can offer the insight that there are genuine long term benefits to be gained by re-using and re-purposing existing data, making data available independently, and securely which is an always increasing challenge, regardless of where it is consumed and by whom.
It can be simplified by the long-term benefits are – Connecting people, product, process and places.

Which brings us in to the training part, can AR be used to train staff more flexibly and efficiently to raise quality and worker safety?

If staff could be trained or assisted with the help of visual content, this would brake language barriers and promote a more unified language, the visual language.

With solutions in place for more effective and efficient training, time can be spent on other more relevant and valuable tasks.

This again brings us to the question, how do we produce the data needed, or re-use the data we already have, in AR solutions that enable all of this?

This is a topic I will cover in more detail in my next blog.

In this I intend to guide you through how these new products and solutions combined with standard data management tools can, and are today, helping companies meet the consistent flux of manufacturing demand and alleviate the pressure on an organizations teams and experts.

Best regards
Pontus Blomberg

For more information about Industrial Augmented Reality


The Need of Digital Twins to Support Circular Economy

PDSVISION has recently participated in the EU Commission funded Horizon 2020 project studying circular economy in context of two demonstrations. The project is called Resource-efficient Circular Product-Service Systems a.k.a ReCiPSS.

PDSVISION Finland Managing Director Perttu Korpela tells us why participating is important to him and the group, as we continue our objective of helping customers overcome the challenges of Digital transformation.
The Circular Economy
The Circular economy poses a need for enterprises to reinvent their business. The business can no longer be based solely on one-directional logistics and value chains. Traditionally a product’s value increases during manufacturing and shipping processes, in the beginning of product’s life cycle. The value slowly decreases during operation phase and might be zero or even negative (waste) when product is decommissioned after it has reached the maximum operation time. Many enterprises have built their business models based on maximal efficiency in this one-way value stream.

Circular economy requires enterprises to rethink the business to not only build value into building and commissioning products, but also in decommissioning and recycling the products. Resource efficient business requires looking at alternative revenue streams besides producing new products. Common alternative revenue streams are:

After sales and service is already, today, a big profit source for many manufacturing companies. Efficiency and ease of sales are needed to compensate reduced product sales.

Pay per use (PPU) or leasing the product instead of selling it is a viable option. Both business models give better margins if products last longer and require less services. Transparency and trust between product manufacturer and customer are keys to make it beneficial for both.

To sell spare parts and services, companies need to be able to track every shipped product instance through their life cycle. Products manufactured at different times are built using different supplier parts or have other improvements. Also tailoring the product for customer needs with options and variants is increasingly common.

This leads into a situation that delivered products are more and less unique. Capturing the variability, spare parts and service history requires combining data from multiple business systems such as PLM, ERP and SLM. Presenting the data in an intuitive format requires new ways of connecting and experiencing it.”
So, what are the building blocks of digital twin?
First a full product structure including physical and software components. In fact, this needs to be developed to a level where material composition of each physical component is known. Then efficient recycling or refurbishing benefits from good understanding of valuable materials included in components.

Next, install base management and service history. To support products in field better, each product must be tracked after the shipment in an install base management system. A good install base management system allows tracking part replacements for each product instance.

Connecting business systems to machines in the field through Industrial IoT. Business systems provide information about structure and machine connectivity provides monitoring information about product’s operations conditions, running hours and service history. Machine learning enables predicting failures and provides service alerts prior the actual failure.

Augmented reality to provides customer or service personnel the information relevant to users and to product individual, all within a comprehensible format. The same user interface needs to provide data about the product, its’ service and operation history, as well as its reverse logistics options etc. There is so much data available from different sources that it must be contextualized and visualized for each user at the time of consuming it.

Other digital twin building blocks, such as simulation, might also contribute to circular economy by prolonging product life expectancy and predicting its’ durability in actual operating environment.

To sum the above, digital twin is far from being only a buzz term. It is a term that concretizes and connects seemingly disconnected technologies into a real-world business need. The quicker world adopts new way of doing business, the quicker technologies mature to enable the change.”

If you like to know more about Circular Economy and what we at PDSVISION do to support the Circular Economy, please do not hesitate to contact us.

More information about project itself can be found from project web site.