Jan 05 2017

Megan Nichols

What You Need To Know: A Manufacturing Safety Management Guide

work safety, manufacturing safety guideSafety management in manufacturing is essential. Without protocols in place to prevent and diagnose incidents regarding transit, radiation, chemicals, machinery, and explosives, there is a large risk for workplace injuries and fatalities. Concerning manufacturing safety management, here’s what you need to know.

The Role of OSHA and ISRI

Congress passed the Occupational Health and Safety Act in 1970 with the aim to “encourage employers and employees’ efforts to reduce the number of occupational safety and health hazards at their places of employment, and to stimulate employers and employees to institute new and to perfect existing programs for providing safe and healthful working conditions.”

Since then, OSHA has played a pivotal role in workplaces around the country. OSHA’s regulations comprise the framework of manufacturing safety within the US, with regulations including standards on permit use, accident prevention, electrical equipment and electrical hazards and machinery guarding.

ISRI, the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, formed an alliance with OSHA in October 2015, with the goal to “promote health and safety in workplaces throughout the recycling industry.” The agreement continues OSHA’s original goal of preventing workplace incidents and prevention of hazard exposure.

Safety in Transportation

Many businesses rely heavily on transportation to implement and deliver their services. Whether receiving or sending materials, it’s important to heed safety in transportation and avoid cutting costs associated with hiring drivers. In addition to the monetary loss, a transportation hazard can put lives at risk if a driver is inexperienced or inattentive.

Choose a fleet of drivers and transit directors with experience and attention to general safety practices. Also, be sure the driver is familiar with the type of vehicle and materials inside. A driver handling drum equipment, for instance, should be fully aware of proper methods for handling drums on ramps and in and out of trucks.

It’s also worth investing in tracking technology for transportation methods, to monitor overall driver efficiency and diagnose potential problems before they become a larger issue. RFID technology is already used in several airports to track baggage. The technology is worth considering for any business that wishes to monitor transportation activities to ensure both efficiency and safety.

Radiation Safety

Excessive exposure to radiation can cause tissue damage that can result in severe injury or death. Ionizing radiation has sufficient energy — enough to ionize atoms that could destabilize molecules within cells, leading to tissue damage. With this in mind, if there’s any possible risk of radiation exposure, it’s important to leave the proximity immediately. Reducing time of exposure can decrease the dose dramatically.

Any potential exposure to radiation of any kind should have appropriate warning signs to encourage employees to wear personal protection, such as UV-blocking eyewear with side-shields, long-sleeved and tightly woven clothing that covers the full body and sunscreen with SPF of 30 or higher. Ionizing radiation at workplaces is preventable with lead-based materials, like lead aprons and spectacles created with lead glass.

Attire and precautions can go a long way in preventing radiation exposure, but if it occurs it’s imperative to vacate the premises immediately and seek medical attention via 911.

Chemical Safety

Chemicals can be dangerous and exposure may cause injury or death. Regarding chemical safety management, it’s advised for workplaces to label any potentially hazardous chemicals. In the same vicinity, there should be instructions for use, as well as precautions to pay attention to, such as evacuation procedures and methods for treating exposure.

The signs and symptoms of chemical exposure should be common knowledge among any employees, as they could potentially save lives with this knowledge.

Explosive Safety

Machines, chemicals, and various transportation methods are abundant at many workplaces, prompting a concern regarding explosions due to misuse or electrical malfunctions. Routine electrical inspections should be made to prevent explosions. If there are any actual explosive or related materials on the premises, they legally must be stored in approved facilities, as required by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms regulations contained in 27 CFR part 55.

In addition, the explosive material can never be stored underground if there is only one mode of exit. Smoking and open flames are also prohibited within 50 feet of detonator store magazines and explosives.

Machining Safety

Machines play a large role in many workplace facilities, with forklifts, factory vehicles, and automation machines being a common sight. While it’s common sense that the machine’s operator should be fully educated on maneuvering the machine, it’s also important to notify surrounding workers of potential risks.

Additionally, employers shouldn’t provide access to machines for those without the clearance. Untrained workers should have no access. If in the vicinity, they should always pay attention to nearby machines and their operators.

Checklist for Training Aids and Inspections

OSHA provides a comprehensive checklist for inspections. Here’s an overview for training aids and inspections:

  • Implement a hazard communication standard for various types of accidents, so your employers and employees are aware of hazardous chemicals in the vicinity and how to protect themselves.
  • Have an emergency action plan, with certain scenarios in mind. Protocol for radiation exposure, fires, explosions, transit mishaps and injury should be universal and known. A fire prevention plan, in particular, with an outlining of a fire exit route and various exits is a must.
  • Ensure walking and working surfaces are in shape and abide by OSHA regulatory standards. Falls from heights are among the most common workplace injuries and often the most easily preventable.
  • Provide first aid and medical equipment commensurate with potential workplace hazards while informing employees of medical and first-aid locations and how to contact further help.
    Take a look at the most frequently cited OSHA standards to gauge potential areas you may have missed that are commonly cited among negligent businesses.

By being comprehensively aware of various hazards and how to prevent and react to them, workplaces can provide employees with a safe place to work, which will encourage productivity and prevent potentially catastrophic mishaps.

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.apriso.com/blog/2017/01/what-you-need-to-know-a-manufacturing-safety-management-guide/

Dec 15 2016

Philippe Virlouvet

Will MES/MOM survive the IIoT world? Looking at a future where everything is smart.

In my last blog, I explored the growth of smart devices, big data analytics, and the cloud, and what these technologies mean to operational systems such as MES/MOMs. Briefly, I suggested that MOMs will continue to drive operations for several years, but will have to evolve and adapt as edge technology and the IIoT continue to advance.

Now I want to look at the longer term. How will this interaction between operational systems (OT) and information systems (IT) play out in manufacturing enterprises over the next 10 or 15 years? Will MOMs, or any operational systems, even survive the IIoT?

In a world where every asset is smart and connected, there may be no operational “driver” as we think of it today.

How will Smart Connected Assets and Smart Connected Operations interact? Will they be independent or closely coupled?

We are only at the onset of smart connected devices, but already we can begin to see the impact and the coming convergence of the OT and IT spheres of influence.

For example, Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) and Data Historian vendors are trying to expand their footprint through mobility and intelligent devices, moving into operational realms normally controlled by MES or MOMs. And why not? If a SCADA vendor can interact with various devices and has smart analytical capabilities to answer questions about how a device is used, then it can control areas of operations related to it.

Smart connected assets will blur the lines between assets and operations in many ways, because this evolution will bring real benefits to manufacturers. Consider maintenance. Intelligent assets will reduce downtime by better detecting anomalies or impending failures by capturing and analyzing on-site data to make real-time recommendations, directing and scheduling maintenance teams, and perhaps even changing production flow to work around repairs.

This convergence of smart connected assets and operations will impact all areas within the factory. Raw materials, equipment, personnel, operations, suppliers—they will all be intelligent, connected, and capable of interacting in any way needed to improve efficiency and respond to shifting conditions and demands. These capabilities will involve new challenges, such as firewalls and security issues on the shop floor between manufacturers and products, but they will also enable increasing industrial partnerships and collaborations.

What new mutualized business services models will be possible between companies that use Smart Connected Assets to perform their Smart Connected Operations?

The factory floor isn’t the only thing that will change. Smart connected assets and operations will change how companies do business with each other. We can imagine all vendors making and monetizing their services to do what we now call MES.

I gave the example of SCADA above, but it could apply to any asset or operation. When devices are sharing information in a fully digitalized environment, every device and every vendor will have a holistic view of its use and the operations around it. This will create new opportunities for every vendor.

Take an aircraft engine turbine, for example. The engine manufacturer could remotely direct repairs by working through on-site operators (perhaps using wearables that display dashboard recommendations). This repair service could be offered for free in exchange for data about the engine’s usage.

This type of collaboration can easily be transferred to any factory or relationship. Manufacturers that use smart connected devices and operations will have important leverage with their vendors—the ability to share valuable usage and operational data to help improve and support their products. In turn, the vendors will have leverage by offering expanded services made possible by smart connected devices. The result should be a true win-win business model based on trading services for data.

Will MOM systems survive? Or is the future some cloud-based platform that consolidates interconnections between diverse smart systems?

It should be clear by now that once every device is smart, operationally aware, and connected, factory processes can be driven from anywhere. In this future world, will there be a place for MES/MOMs?

MOMs will surely be a key transitional technology at the very least. But over time, these systems may evolve into something else, such as a collection of applications in the cloud. Whether or not there is a MOM, information will have to be streamed to the cloud, in conjunction with an advanced analytic model that can cull unneeded historized information.

We might expect to have dedicated data lakes that will consolidate a holistic view of various data sources across the company. These data lakes could be instantiated or referenced in several situations according to programs/projects/product exchange and sharing. Conceivably, any asset could access and use this data at the edge to make decisions and direct operations.

All of this will no doubt disrupt the ISA pyramid a great deal and flatten the L3 application landscape to a more horizontal set of apps and services, possibly hosted by major IoT platform vendors.

Conclusion

We can look to a steady convergence of capabilities as everything becomes smart and connected. Vendors will realign to meet this new reality, with every product potentially becoming the “driver” of manufacturing operations. CAD/CAM, SCADA, PLM, ERP, Big Data, Edge Analytics, MOM—any or all of these categories could end up running a factory.

However, there’s another possibility—that there will be no driver at all in the conventional sense. Just as we see driverless cars merging onto our highways, we may someday see driverless manufacturing plants that act almost as living organisms, with each smart device or “cell” responding immediately to stimulus (demand or problems), communicating with other cells, coordinating responses, and directing activities on their own far more efficiently than is possible today.

This kind of future can seem daunting to a manufacturer. How will you get there? I think the answer is actually simple: the factory of the future won’t be built; it will evolve as manufacturers demand more integration and information sharing, and technology vendors respond by making their products smarter and more connected. (Here’s an interesting video on YouTube, with Rodney Brooks of Rethink Robotics explaining how the digitalized factory might evolve from the bottom up.)

But whatever the future of manufacturing turns out to be, one thing is certain: it won’t be like the present!

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.apriso.com/blog/2016/12/will-mesmom-survive-the-iiot-world-looking-at-a-future-where-everything-is-smart/

Dec 12 2016

Philippe Virlouvet

The changing role of MES/MOM in an IIoT world: How do you get there from here?

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is coming, and it will bring with it a major realignment of how and where information technology is used throughout manufacturing operations and decision-making.

As more and more “things” become equipped with data-gathering and intelligent capabilities, a new data and system architecture will emerge that will “flatten existing hierarchies, provide data from anywhere to anywhere capabilities, and enable next-generation business applications” (LNS Research).

It’s a revolution that’s already well underway, as a new breed of data analytics software at the edge is bringing manufacturing intelligence to decision makers, and the Cloud is changing how technology and organizations share information.

This raises big questions for manufacturers about where they should make technology investments today, and how they can be ready for the future. Will MES continue to evolve into Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM)? And how will MOM technology interface with big data technology?

In this blog and the next, I will try to answer some of the biggest questions surrounding MES/MOM and the manufacturing environment, as we look for a path forward.

What is the frontier today between OT and IT?  Should manufacturers take a bottom-up or top-down approach?

The battle today is between the traditional operations technologies (OT)—like ERP and MES/MOM—and the new breed of data analytics solutions that use information technology (IT) at the edge to bring new power to manufacturing decision-makers through dashboards and analytics.

In a nutshell, the question is: will MOM platforms evolve into data analytics, or will data analytics take control of operations?

Currently, manufacturers are interested in both approaches and the marketplace is responding. On one side, IT vendors are promoting IoT/IIoT platforms for more holistic cross-referenced data investigations. On the other side, OT vendors want to keep ownership of data and are expanding to become IIoT platforms. In addition, partnership momentum is building between hardware, network & communications, and IoT software vendors. For example, DELL and IBM are promoting an IoT Box at the Edge for cloud-based applications like fog computing.

It’s clear that eventually, when the IIoT matures, OT and IT will be capable of being driven from anywhere. However, it’s also clear that we are not there yet. MOM systems will continue to rule the factory floor for some years to come, and OT and IT will coexist in most enterprises. But OT vendors will have to evolve to meet the increasing demands for enterprise intelligence and analytics.

Can big data and advanced analytics be attached to MOM? Or do we need a total revamping of MOM architecture?

The answer is yes and yes. Long term, there will be a revamping of architecture. Near term, the place to start is with operations platforms like MES/MOM. For one, they are the most mature systems and literally at the heart of a company’s operations. Adding edge analytics to this foundation is far easier than trying to extend emerging analytics products to control the factory floor, at least with the present state of technology.

Eventually, this evolution will face challenges. As the IIoT connects more assets, and the volume of data to be analyzed and responded to on the shop floor keeps growing, data processing and movement will become increasingly important. It won’t be practical to stream data to the cloud in order to get real-time alerts and live KPIs. This will all have to take place at the edge, close to the data.

For example, edge applications could augment and enhance the overall maintenance diagnostics (MRO space), or trigger part replacement in case of imminent failure or strong vibrational anomalies. Dedicated applications like this—where live data and operations work together at the edge—will drive new architectures across all products and technologies. MES, like all other systems, will need an architecture that is extensible and can federate any type of data from sensor measurements, databases, PMML standard exchange, even comment threads, and deal with them in a continuous manner.

Will MOM become a Cloud-based SaaS app? A combination MOM/big and fast data architecture? Something else?

So what will this future architecture look like? There are two elements to the IIoT. One is connectivity and communication, the other is intelligence. The first half is largely in place through the Internet, the Cloud, and private networks. The second half is growing rapidly, as more and more devices have built-in intelligence. Once there is both intelligence and connectivity in all the agents—human as well as machine—the manufacturing environment will become more like a living organism than lots of independent systems.

Earlier, I called MOM the heart of manufacturing. It also serves as the nervous system, transmitting signals up and down the operational line (production orders, genealogy, traceability and overall history). I think of big data analytics as the brain, and data itself as the blood cells and electrical signals that move throughout the system.

Before data analytics, or the brain, is ready take over the body, it will need much greater connectivity and interoperability with the heart and nervous system than it is capable of today. For this reason, it seems clear that the path forward over the next several years is to build out MOM with greater analytics while linking wherever possible to big data technology as it emerges.

In my next blog, I’ll take a longer term look at the evolution of OT and IT, and what the effects might be on manufacturing.

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.apriso.com/blog/2016/12/the-changing-role-of-mesmom-in-an-iiot-world-how-do-you-get-there-from-here/

Dec 05 2016

Megan Nichols

Lean Manufacturing Best Practices Help Save You Money

Developing lean inner-work practices has been the recent mindset of many industries, especially manufacturing. The concept “lean” stems from an organization’s desire to optimize workflow and eliminate unnecessary waste.

Companies across the world are reaping the benefits of standardizing their processes and procedures to minimize common mistakes and improve the overall value of the company.

Safety also plays a primary role in a company’s lean process. By incorporating safety into the lean manufacturing process, companies can improve their efficiency, workplace safety and employee buy-in of lean initiatives.

Understand the Benefits of Lean Manufacturing

In addition to eliminating waste, improving efficiency and increasing workplace safety, lean manufacturing also strives to produce products that are:

  • Simply made with few resources
  • Quick and on-time
  • Competitively priced
  • Better than competitors
  • Free of waste

The lean philosophy emphasizes crafting more value for customers by using fewer resources through an optimized workflow. Your outcome will be a more organized operation where your employees have access to the tools they need — and therefore, are more empowered to deliver quality service.

What does this mean for you? Your company will experience a more efficient process and workflow, which in turn, will produce profitable results.

Now that you know how advantageous lean manufacturing can be for your company, it’s time to be proactive. Lean isn’t a one-time project, and you’ll find there’s always room for improvement — more procedure refining, more ways to reduce waste and more ways to improve the return on your lean investments.

As with any new project, it’s crucial to establish initial goals for your lean transition, but keep in mind your goals don’t necessarily need to have an end point. Rather, this is a pledge to continual improvement.

Here are some of the key best practices to include in your lean manufacturing initiative.

Establish a Shared Vision

With any major company change, it’s of utmost importance to have all employees onboard, which can often be overlooked in the lean initiative process. It isn’t uncommon for your employees to be actively involved with a variety of internal and external programs such as family life, education or certification training so that they might view your new lean initiative as an inconvenience.

Adding a focus on safety into your approach may provide more value to the program in the eyes of your employees. Lean operations are critical to the jobs of employees. Improving safety and efficiency in their daily routines are essential to promoting a shared vision, achieving uniform goals and leading to the success of the program.

To get your employees on board and involved, here are some questions you should ask to understand necessary improvement areas:

  1. What additional procedures could be developed to meet employee needs and eliminate hazards?
  2. What are the types of hazards your employees encounter on a daily basis?
  3. What would make employees feel more valued and vested into the lean program?

Restructure a Sales Plan and Focus on Customer Service

It should come as no surprise that customer service needs to be at the heart of every successful organization, and with the addition of lean efforts, companies should not only strive to remove unnecessary waste from their customer-facing process but simultaneously deliver improved customer service. It’s quite simple, remove the waste from the customer service process, and you’ll improve delays, mistakes, inconveniences and reduce your overall costs.

So what can you do? Adjust scheduling, staffing and resources to match the schedule and wishes of your customers. After all, you can’t expect to provide excellent customer service if you do it on your own schedule, and only in ways that improve your own efficiency and goals, while ignoring those of your customer. By taking on a lean mindset, you’ll be speeding up service response times by removing wasted time your staff spends standing around doing nothing with no one to serve.

Properly Implement Lean Manufacturing in Your Company

Implementing lean process improvement has the potential to quickly become involved, detailed and a little overwhelming if you aren’t going about the process appropriately. It’s a good idea to have a proper lean program in the first place, and a vision of where you want your organization to be. The plan should be broken down into defined steps. Clearly defined performance targets should be set and monitored.

  • Focus on Your Customers: Your customers want value. Value creation occurs when the quality of services received is perceived as much higher compared to the cost. You know what your customers want. Now how can you provide it faster, better and cheaper?
  • Determine How Work Is Getting Done: As the manager or a principle in the company, you may have a lot of assumptions about how work is getting done. However, these assumptions might not actually mirror what is actually happening. It’s important to notate the steps in the process in an easy, laid out format so they could easily be repeated alone if need be. Try bringing in an observer to record the steps in the process.
  • Remove Waste and Inefficiencies: Once you become familiar with the workflow of your process, it’s time to determine how it’s directly creating value for your customers. If it isn’t, take a second look. Manage, improve and smooth the process to eliminate non-value-added activity time. Consider packaging and storage methods as well and choose materials that cost less and can save space. Examples of this could be wasted time and movement, excess inventory due to overproduction, customer delays, work batching delays, duplication of work and waiting around for approvals. Using bulky shipping methods can also waste valuable space in the factory or plant which can add additional expenses.
  • Empower Your Employees: The best people to improve your process are the people carrying out the process. You should be utilizing the full skill sets of your employees and determining if anyone could be giving more effort.
  • Track Numbers: Sometimes, what you think will work well, doesn’t. Test your process, collect data, highlight and eliminate errors and seek continuous improvement in value.

You should consider holding regular meetings with employees to follow-up the implementation of specific projects. Managers must seek to integrate lean principles into everyday business, rather than run it as a separate, temporary project on the side of operations.

 

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.apriso.com/blog/2016/12/lean-manufacturing-best-practices-help-save-you-money/

Nov 14 2016

What Augmented Reality Can Bring to the Industry and Why it Will Take Time

With Pokémon Go, augmented reality for gaming may have found its killer app. Gamers must locate, capture and battle Pokémon creatures that appear in their real-life environment.

But how long will it take for augmented reality applications to become standard in manufacturing? And, is Pokémon Go really an augmented reality app?

Virtual Reality vs Augmented Reality

You have probably heard of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). But what is the difference?

Virtual reality creates a virtual world that users can interact with. The experience is immersive, thanks to the realistic simulation of vision and hearing. The applications of virtual reality are mainly found in gaming, entertainment and simulation. Virtual reality devices do not allow you to see the external world.

Augmented reality expands the real world with virtual artifacts, showing how you look with these beautiful earrings or highlighting the oil drain plug in your car engine. Augmented reality devices are see-through devices, with the potential to add virtual objects.

 

VR devices are immersive

AR devices are see-through displays

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Key capabilities of AR devices are related to optics (resolution, field of view), environmental awareness (tracking of objects, spatial mapping) and user interactions (voice recognition, gesture input).

Ideally, AR applications layer information on top of real objects in a spatially intelligent way, which requires advanced technologies such as computer vision, depth sensing and object recognition.

For its part, the Pokémon Go app only relies on smart phone geo-location capabilities and camera to display flat Pokémons on top of real-life surroundings, sometimes with unrealistic results. This is why some consider Pokémon Go as a location-based game, and not as a true augmented reality app.

Augmented Reality Applications in Manufacturing

While VR is primarily for the entertainment market, business applications will drive a large part of the AR market, including industrial applications. The following scenarios within manufacturing are ideal and it will take time before they become common practice in the industry.

  • Assembly. The AR application assists the worker during the assembly process. For example, it can highlight existing parts involved, display virtual parts to assemble, show an animation illustrating the operation to perform, display an arrow pointing to the direction of an industrial closet, and highlight the bin containing the required fixtures when it becomes visible.
  • Maintenance and repair. In a similar way, the AR application helps users perform maintenance and repair operations on the shop floor. In the case of field service in remote areas, a remote expert can efficiently support the technician by actually seeing what the operator sees on-site and collaborating with him. In a consumer scenario, customers that need to perform a repair task at home, such as replacing the cooling fan for their laptop, are able to download instructions to their AR device. Looking at the laptop, they are then guided, step by step, on exactly how to disassemble the laptop then put it back together again with the new fan.
  • Training. The AR applications used for assembly or maintenance and repair can be adapted for hands-on training.
  • Quality control. The AR application assists the Quality expert during quality inspection procedures. For example, it allows the user to compare the actual geometry with the as-designed geometry or to check key characteristics at highlighted locations of complex products (e.g. to count the number of screws securing a lid). The user can also designate defective spots found directly on a part, then feed the location back to the Quality Management system or MES.
  • Warehouse management. The AR application assists warehouse pickers by showing arrows directing them to the items they are looking for and highlighting them once they are visible. Relevant inventory levels and KPIs are displayed on the screen.
  • Factory layout. The AR application helps manufacturing space designers assess the feasibility of changes in the factory layout, thanks to a realistic visualization of the current facilities mixed with additional virtual resources, such as new robots.

The devices supporting these applications can be handheld devices, such as tablets or smart phones, head-mounted devices, such as Microsoft’s HoloLens™, DAQRI Smart Helmet™, or projectors[1].

In most of these applications, integration with a PLM parts database as well as with various manufacturing processes (work instructions, quality, warehouse management, people skills management), is highly desirable. Coherence between 3D models (products, assets and factories) and manufacturing operations is also required.

Some important excepted benefits…

The benefits of AR for work instructions (our first scenario) were estimated by a Boeing study in 2014-2015. About 50 participants had to accomplish a series of tasks that were representative of a typical assembly process at Boeing. They were divided in 3 groups:

  • The first group used a touch monitor to read work instructions from a PDF document, as done routinely at Boeing. The monitor was at a fixed location and was not visible from the assembly workstation.
  • The second group read the same PDF document but from a tablet that was readily accessible and visible from the assembly workstation.
  • The third group also used a tablet, but with an experimental AR system showing immersive 3D work instructions in context.

Boeing measured the median number of assembly errors for first-time assembly (training) and for final assembly:

  • The first group made 8 errors at first, then 4 errors.
  • The second group made 1 error in both cases.
  • The third group (with the AR system) made 0.5 error at first and no error afterwards.

These results represent potential huge benefits for Boeing[2]!

Other qualitative benefits can be deduced from the scenarios above:  better and quicker training thanks to hands-on realistic experience, best practices captured from highly skilled users, reduced need for travel to the job site thanks to remote assistance, quicker warehouse picking with less errors, and a faster, more confident path to an optimal factory layout.

…But adoption rate is still slow

Given all the benefits above, one could expect to find a lot of testimonies of AR usage in the industry. But in fact, while many companies experiment with AR, it is difficult to find articles describing advanced AR implementations beyond pilot projects.

Lockheed-Martin has communicated about the use of AR for assembly and repair of the F-35, allowing engineers to work 30% faster, according to the company that built the software. But this still appears to be a trial.

At Volkswagen’s Wolfsburg plant, the deployment of smart glasses for order picking has started with 30 employees. However, the AR usage appears pretty simple, with glasses used as barcode readers and to display storage locations and part numbers directly in the field of vision, allowing workers to work hands-free.

BMW has shared a great video of a mechanic repairing a car engine with an overlay of virtual parts upon real ones, and in-context animations. But the video was released in 2007, and augmented reality is nowhere to be found on the BMW corporate Web site at the time this article was written.

It is worth noting that AR first appeared in Gartner’s technology hype cycle in 2004. More than 10 years later, AR is still in the “trough of disillusionment” section of the 2015 curve and mainstream adoption will not occur for 5 to 10 years, according to Gartner.

This is because AR requires a lot of advanced technologies and some of them are still maturing. Areas of much needed improvement include:

  • Hands-free light-weight devices with higher resolution, larger field-of-view and elegant and accurate optics
  • Lower latency— AR needs to respond quickly (in less than 15ms) as the user moves his eyes, head or body[3].
  • Smarter object recognition and depth-sensing technologies
  • Eye movement detection and other tracking of human input (gesture, voice-based interaction)
  • Emergence of standards for the development of AR applications across devices
  • High-speed connections allowing AR apps to integrate with the manufacturer’s back-end systems (Manufacturing Operations Management, PLM and ERP systems), and other devices.

How elaborate will your AR application be?

Does this mean that industries have to wait the 5 to 10 years for the technology to be mature, as estimated by Gartner?

Well, it depends on the kind of AR app we are talking about. We can identify 4 levels of sophistication for AR apps, as shown in the figure below:

AR maturity levels

AR maturity levels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is the situation today?

  • Level 4 is still a dream.
  • Level 3 experimentations are becoming possible with devices such as Microsoft HoloLens™.
  • Level 2 pilot projects are still being conducted
  • Level 1 applications already exist in the industry and bring tangible benefits. These examples include facilitating field service in the oil and gas industry or, as we saw with the Volkswagen use case above, optimized order picking

According to Patrick Ryan from Index AR Solutions, the quality control, assembly and training applications are the most mature applications of AR. Assuming industrials target the low-hanging fruit, we can expect in the short term to hear more stories of location-based AR applications in these domains – even though some say this is not AR!

But, for Pokémon Go, who cares?

 

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[1] For example, to project a digital jig to stud welding.

[2] Assembly time measurements also showed a reduction of the build time, though not in the same proportion.

[3] Otherwise, the experience will not feel authentic and simulator sickness will likely occur

 

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.apriso.com/blog/2016/11/what-augmented-reality-can-bring-to-the-industry-and-why-it-will-take-time/

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