It is not surprising that the aerospace and defense industry exists at a higher plane of manufacturing. The components and end products being assembled must endure intense forces and pressures, are expected to perform without failure, and even the slightest mistake comes with extreme safety risks.
To meet these extraordinary demands, aerospace firms have developed highly technical and complex manufacturing processes that require significant training. Augmented reality (AR) can help improve these processes, from reducing task and training times to increasing accuracy and technician performance. The results include faster processes, fewer errors and reduced risk.
Tasks that are relatively mundane and inexpensive in other industries can be enormously expensive in the aerospace industry. Processes like torque applications, fastener attachments and drilling must be executed perfectly or will require costly rework or repair.
To avoid these costs and delays, extensive manuals are created and methodical processes defined. These types of applications are where AR shines and where the potential savings contribute to a high ROI.
While the resulting ROI from just a single task can be significant, the cost of labor and time are just two of the benefits AR can deliver.
Additional benefits of the technology include reducing or eliminating rework, improving accuracy and reducing downstream costs and potential safety risks. When you add it all up, it is easy to recognize AR’s value.
To provide some real-world perspective, aerospace vehicles typically contain thousands of miles of wire, requiring many fasteners and clips—all with precise attachment points. Simply marking the location of these attachment points can take weeks.
Lockheed Martin is using augmented reality to enable both a faster and more accurate location of the attachment points. A process that originally required eight shifts and two technicians has now been reduced to just 2.5 hours and a single technician.
AR Makes Anyone an Expert With Less Training
Training times can be lengthy in aerospace applications given the potential consequences in cost, safety and time.
Safety is an especially critical component in this industry, which adds additional pressure to perform tasks correctly. This need for “information overhead” further increases the focus on training to ensure technicians have the expertise and access to information to perform each individual task accurately. AR streamlines knowledge transfer by giving technicians the information they need when and where they need it. Instant and contextual access to information and instructions enables technicians to work without second-guesses and without work stoppages to refer to manuals or drawings. Faster training via AR also accelerates ramp-up so new technicians get to work in less time. Lastly, AR’s process traceability can surface opportunities for additional improvements in efficiency and accuracy.
Lockheed Martin first began exploring the benefits of AR during production of the Orion spacecraft.
Using Scope AR’s WorkLink platform to create AR work instructions for a drilling application, Lockheed Martin was able to reduce touch labor by 35 percent and further reduce technician training and ramp-up time by 85 percent.
In another Lockheed Martin use case, threaded fasteners require precise torque loads to enable the best performance while avoiding damage to the fastened materials and the fastener itself. Using AR, the required data is put directly in the view of technicians to reduce a torque application process from six weeks to two weeks for an ultimate touch labor savings of 50 percent and a significant reduction in training time.
AR Becomes Mainstream
AR is already returning real value across the aerospace industry. Companies large and small are turning to AR to reduce costs while simultaneously increasing safety and reducing risk. It lessens training and process times while improving accuracy and quality. While the cost of a mistake can be enormous, simply reducing the costs of everyday training, tasks, rework and more can justify the benefits of AR.
Originally published on Enterprise Talk by Debjani Chaudhury here.
ET Bureau: How is Aggreko using augmented reality (AR) to reinvent its global workforce training?
David Nedohin: Aggreko is always looking for new ways to build expertise across the company’s workforce, deploying Aggreko products. Given the current limitations to travel with the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for delivering digital training knowledge has gone from a “nice to have” to ‘mission-critical’ from an operational standpoint. Aggreko built an AR training program using the Scope AR WorkLink platform to create a virtual, full-sized model of its 1600 cfm diesel compressor – a massive piece of equipment that weighs 12 tons and is 20 feet long. As part of the immersive training experience, employees are able to do a full walk-around of the compressor in order to get familiar with controls, key features, and components.
The AR training experience also shows how to turn on or decommission the equipment, as well as how to conduct essential maintenance procedures like changing out fuel and oil filters. In order to make the training process even more seamless, Aggreko is using devices their workforce already carries – like smartphones and tablets – to deliver the experience to employees, so no additional hardware investment is needed. This means training is now available wherever their workers are so they can continue to get the knowledge they need to do their best work.
ET Bureau: How does the Scope AR WorkLink platform function?
David Nedohin: Scope AR’s WorkLink is an integrated augmented reality (AR) platform that provides more effective and efficient knowledge-sharing to conduct complex remote tasks, employee training, product, and equipment assembly, maintenance, and repair, field and customer support, and more.
It is the industry’s only AR knowledge platform to offer real-time remote support, access to AR work instructions, and the ability to record sessions simultaneously in one application. With this, workers can now easily capture, retain, and share knowledge like never before.
ET Bureau: With in-person workforce training being halted amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, how has your platform helped organizations?
David Nedohin: While our reality has us working apart, AR technology has the ability to bring us together. Companies like Aggreko are using AR to transform their global workforce training, so employees are now able to get an immersive, digital training experience on life sized, full-scale models of equipment.
Other companies, some major players in the global food and drink industry, are using the remote assistance functionality of Scope AR’s WorkLink platform to maintain factory floor operations and conduct equipment maintenance and repairs. Since experts are no longer able to travel on-site to facilities, they’re instead guiding factory floor workers through essential equipment repair and maintenance procedures remotely via live, AR-enabled video calls. This is preventing costly downtime and ensuring procedures are done correctly by workers who may have little to no prior training on a certain task.
ET Bureau: What are the most valuable takeaways for any global organization trying to maintain their training programs during these challenging times?
David Nedohin: Uncertain times like these spur innovation in using new technologies and how we do our work to keep things moving forward. Just as Aggreko is transforming its workforce training, we undoubtedly will see other businesses figuring out new ways to leverage technology to help navigate these volatile times.
Some key takeaways to remember are:
AR reinvents and optimizes an essential process- Typically, companies must fly employees to training centers or HQs around the globe to get face-to-face training. This model is costly and inefficient. AR can bring distance learning to the workforce, eliminating the need for travel.
AR helps unlock tangible ROI- As mentioned above, the cost of shipping equipment and flying employees to centralized locations for training can be costly and inefficient. Imagine the savings that can be realized by cutting those expenses while still being able to deliver rich, intuitive digital training content to ensure an organization’s workforce never stops learning.
Companies can help speed innovation across their business- We’ve heard from a number of customers that while they’ve kicked around the idea of implementing AR into their workforce training prior to COVID-19, it had always been more of a nice to have, not a necessity. But the challenges brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic have definitely accelerated this process for many companies. With AR, companies can quickly build processes and create content to distribute worldwide so that employees can continue to receive the training and knowledge they need to deliver an optimal experience to their customers.
David Nedohin, co-founder and Chief Customer Officer of Scope AR, brings more than 20 years of experience in business development and supporting customers at all stages of the customer journey to drive the company’s vision to revolutionize the world of industrial training, maintenance and field support with AR technology. In this role, David manages key relationships with industry partners and works with some of the world’s leading global companies, including Lockheed Martin, Unilever, and Aggreko, among others.
As the battle against COVID-19 intensifies, health systems and governments around the world are urging manufacturers to help in the production of vital medical equipment and supplies. Companies in the aerospace, automotive and life sciences industries are being called into action to help with the manufacturing of ventilators. These companies must now shift gears and train their workforce to produce an entirely new piece of equipment. This is not an easy undertaking and requires enormous coordination across design, engineering and manufacturing processes as well as significant workforce training.
Companies focused on ventilator production can take advantage of augmented reality work instructions. Integrating AR into their workforce can ensure that they have the knowledge at their fingertips to complete the manufacturing correctly without relying on traditional “training” methods. Workers can simply “see” the augmented 3D content positioned on their work table, and assemble the ventilators step-be-step, following what they see. All the worker would need to view these instructions is a smartphone or tablet.
To help with this global effort, Scope AR is offering immediate access to our WorkLink solution at no cost for the purpose of creating these ventilator instructions. And in the cases where companies undertaking this effort have limited internal resources, we are also providing access to our Creative Services team for direct support, consultation and where possible, complete start to finish project creation.
We are all in this together and Scope AR hopes that we can make a difference by offering our solutions to companies with a new focus on producing these life saving ventilators. If you are an organization tasked with this ventilator production effort or have further questions, please email us at: COVID-19@scopeAR.com.
We are all facing unprecedented challenges in our lives and at work due to the impact of Covid-19. With much of the world being asked to shelter in place, we’re all looking for ways to reinvent how we get the work done to serve our customers, our companies, and all the people who work for them. It’s becoming clear that we will all be increasingly reliant on the tools and technology that keeps businesses connected to its customers and stakeholders. Now more than ever, we’re all in this together, and communication is vital.
As we find new ways to stay connected, I am very optimistic enterprises will find ways to speed innovation and rethink business-as-usual. At Scope AR, we’re committed to helping our customers leverage AR where possible as a tool for keeping essential operations moving forward. Over the past six weeks, we’ve seen that take on many forms such as virtual workforce training, remote expert assistance being used to guide factory equipment repairs and maintenance procedures, as well as the use of intuitive AR work instructions to help manufacturers stick to production timelines as best as possible.
We will continue to spotlight successful AR deployments and share lessons learned and best practices so that other enterprises have real-world examples of how augmented reality can be used to solve complex business challenges. I recently had a great discussion with Walter Davis at Aggreko. Walter was kind enough to share three takeaways from an AR remote employee training project now underway.
Aggreko brings power, energy storage, heating & cooling to sites around the world. Their generators help power emergency services, hospitals, and other major events. Aggreko’s products ensure that manufacturers and construction sites can keep production on track and maintain efficiency. They also work with the utility industry to ensure power keeps flowing to their customers.
With more than 200 locations of its own worldwide, Aggreko can deploy its equipment to any part of the globe. In their over 50 years in business, they’ve powered everything from massive hurricane recovery sites to global mega-events like the 2012 Olympics in London and FIFA World Cup events.
As the Head of Talent and Learning Technology at Aggreko, Walter is always looking for new ways to build expertise across the company’s workforce deploying Aggreko products — wherever and whenever their customers need them. Given the current limitations to travel, the need for delivering digital training knowledge has gone from a “nice to have” to ‘mission critical’ from an operational standpoint. He’s been a champion at the company for the use of AR to train employees on its 1600 CFM diesel compressor – a massive piece of equipment that weighs 12 tons and is 20 feet long.
Aggreko built an AR training program using the Scope AR WorkLink platform to create a virtual, full-sized model of the compressor. “They can do a full walk-around,” Walter said, noting the experience is an “immersive training on a life-sized, full-scale model of our product.” Employees can get familiar with controls, key features, and components.
The AR experience also shows how to turn on or decommission the equipment, as well as how to conduct essential maintenance procedures like changing out fuel and oil filters. To deliver the AR experience, they’re using devices their workforce already carries – like smart phones and tablets – so no additional hardware investment is needed. This means training is now available wherever their workers are. As an added bonus, physical equipment doesn’t have to be taken away from a job site, which is a huge cost savings for Aggreko.
Here are three takeaways Walter said he learned from this initial AR deployment that might resonate with other businesses considering AR as a reliable and scalable way to train and share expert knowledge amongst their workforce:
1. AR reinvents and optimizes an essential process. To train its workers on the 1600 compressor, Aggreko used to fly them to training centers all over the globe to get face-to-face and hands-on training with the equipment. This model is costly and inefficient. AR can bring distance learning to the workforce, not the other way around.
2. AR helps unlock tangible ROI. To train in-person, Aggreko has to ship its massive compressors to training centers. In addition to considerable shipping costs, they can’t use that equipment out on a customer site. Walter estimates that they would be saving $500K if AR was used in place of physical products for all current technical programs.
3. Companies can help speed innovation across their business. Walter notes that while the plan was always to scale from the 1600 compressor experience to create training experiences for other pieces of Aggreko equipment, the challenges brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic have definitely accelerated this process. As the company has currently banned all non business-critical in person training and business travel, they are quickly building processes and creating content to distribute worldwide so that employees can continue to receive the training and knowledge they need to deliver an optimal experience to their customers.
Uncertain times like these spur innovation in using new technologies and how we do our work to keep things moving forward. Just as Aggreko is transforming its workforce training, we undoubtedly will see other businesses figuring out new ways to leverage technology to help navigate these volatile times. Learn more about Aggreko and the work they’re doing to power business across the globe.
In manufacturing, unplanned downtime can quickly translate to a cost of millions of dollars. Maintaining operational efficiency can be a challenge in even the most ideal of conditions, and in times of crisis, that efficiency can unravel.
As Covid-19 continues to spread, we are beginning to see its impact across many industries. Travel is actively being discouraged, and in some instances around the globe, outright banned. For businesses that rely on travel for smooth operation, the challenges of Covid-19 continue to be felt. And as companies like Apple and Samsung can attest, the various challenges presented by the coronavirus outbreak have had a tremendous impact on manufacturing facilities.
We have been hearing from many of our customers about how they are no longer able to go on site to address operations with their factories in affected areas. One customer in particular, who is a giant in the food and beverage industry, has a factory in Vietnam and is now using the remote assistance functionality of Scope AR’s WorkLink platform to maintain vital operations and keep the factory running during this volatile time.
Augmented reality technologies can be a new communication platform for organizations to capture and scale their knowledge without the need for experts to travel. Improvement in both software and hardware alike, have actually made this a reality. AR remote assistance provides the ability to instantly deliver essential knowledge beyond borders, connecting experts in other countries with workers on the factory floor. Combine this with self-guided AR work instructions, and organizations with global presence can ensure that any worker will have best-practices right in their hands that are easy to follow, repeatable, and measurable.
Communication is Vital
The Covid-19 situation reminds us that in times of crisis we become even more dependent on technology to help us stay connected. We are seeing companies turn to AR and other collaboration tools to keep critical business operations moving forward. As we watch the situation unfold, I think we will see the need for more innovative ways to navigate the complex business challenges this outbreak is presenting. Scope AR will continue to support organizations who are focusing on scaling their knowledge through digital transformation while removing geographic boundaries.
Like many executives at enterprise companies, you might be evaluating how augmented reality technologies could help your bottom line. You’ve trialed AR headsets and you’ve identified a great use case for AR in your organization. Maybe you even have buy-in from your leadership and your IT department to get an AR project rolling.
So what’s next? Start building content, importing CAD overlays, recording some of your company’s proprietary assembly guides? Maybe prep the purchase order for some additional hardware?
The most critical next step to building out AR success is to ensure you’ll be able to prove your AR project’s return on investment. If you can prove the ROI, you can not only successfully justify the investment in your AR project, but you can also find ways to replicate success; expand into other use cases; and build advocates among senior decision-makers.
Proving ROI for AR isn’t guesswork, or a hopeful prediction. It’s math. To oversimplify: at the outset of your project, you need the ability to compare before-and-after AR metrics and outcomes.
Here are a few steps to take as you look to capture ROI metrics.
Find the unique measurables for your AR project
I’ve never seen a large, successful enterprise that doesn’t prioritize the collection and analysis of its own business metrics. In a complex organization, a manager would never know what moved the needle on a given outcome if she wasn’t closely measuring all the inputs that could influence it.
The good news: your organization likely has a wealth of data on existing processes and procedures, ranging from specific operations expenses to manufacturing output. Find the existing metrics that directly correlate to your use case: what do you want to improve or strengthen?
Potential ROI metrics will not only be unique to your enterprise — these will also be unique to your project. While it’s true AR can drive widespread transformation across an entire enterprise, you need to stay focused on the subset of data that shows the impact within the contours of your project. Ensure you can quantify “productivity” or “efficiency” in measurable units: time saved, expenses avoided.
Here’s how one enterprise scoped its unique metrics for an AR deployment. Prince Castle, a supplier of commercial food preparation and kitchen equipment to leading global fast food chains, wanted to improve outcomes when their highly-specialized equipment needed routine maintenance or repair. They identified three key metrics to assess ROI success when implementing AR into this process: first-time fix rate; whether or not service trips are being reduced; and how much is being spent on technician labor. With these metrics, they can continually evaluate project outcomes and opportunities.
Quantify what “before AR” looks like
Before you do anything else —establish baselines for your specific project metrics. You want to show the math that proves out ROI after you’ve started to incorporate AR into the workflows of the teams using them — and potentially, the teams and metrics impacted downstream.
Here’s an example: let’s say you’re considering AR to help your highly-specialized technicians assemble a product. For the team on the manufacturing floor, you’d likely want to establish baselines around:
Hours of training time per worker
Productivity per technician’s role
Frequency and length of support calls
And for the downstream impact, in this scenario you might want baseline metrics that cover:
Overall productivity by location dependent on this project team’s output
Cost of unexpected downtime by hour or day
Productivity or utilization of experts/troubleshooters in support scenarios
With baseline metrics in-hand, you can demonstrate the value of AR in achieving project outcomes. Did you measurably improve productivity or reduce downtime? Did you reduce the amount of training time needed to onboard a remote workforce? Can you quantify how AR helped experts troubleshoot problems more quickly?
Learn from your enterprise peers
While the ROI-focused metrics you need will be unique to your business and even your project, you’re not flying solo. More global enterprises are using AR to achieve real value in daily processes — from manufacturing to field service to aerospace. Spend some time exploring how other companies are achieving value, and see if that inspires how you shape your AR project and define ROI.
For instance, Lockheed Martin started using AR in one use case — manufacturing spacecraft. They use AR overlays that add contextual information and instructions to what their expert technicians see, in real-time. You can see the potential value compared to the prior assembly reference system where technicians consulted paper manuals and had to do mental mapping from those instructions over to the real-world spacecraft components. The success of the project led to Lockheed Martin expanding their use of AR across their organization, and across a variety of use cases.
More ways to prove ROI in our free Quick Guide
There’s no single metric that defines success for AR implementations — your business and your project are too unique. But it is critical that you prepare to measure outcomes that show the value and know what those are ahead of time.
In 2017, we saw a turning point for
augmented reality (AR). Gone are the days where AR was simply a
buzzworthy topic following on the heels of virtual reality (VR). In
fact, IDC forecast AR and VR revenues will likely total $9.1 billion this year. Additionally, the firm expects AR/VR sales to increase nearly 95
percent in 2018 to reach $17.8 billion. The majority of that spending
is expected to be done by businesses. According to an IDC press release,
“The commercial sectors will represent more than 60 percent of AR/VR
spending in 2018 and grow to more than 85 percent of the worldwide total
It’s clear enterprise companies are now seeing the real value in AR and seizing opportunities to leverage its capabilities to more easily share knowledge across their organizations. This got us thinking about the year ahead and what’s really driving the proliferation of augmented reality. Here are the top three trends we see driving the AR industry in 2018:
1. New industries adopting full-scale AR
As equipment becomes more complicated,
technicians may not have the knowledge or resources to fix problems in a
timely manner, and those with the expertise are often hours or days
away. This leaves an enormous gap in expertise. Organizations are
looking to find a way to put their expert knowledge where they
need it, when they need it. Existing communication tools and workflows
aren’t cutting it in today’s modern workplace, The good news? AR has the
potential to be the answer. While the industry is seeing some benefit
from things like video calling and tablets loaded with PDFs, these gains
pale in significance next to the potential of AR.
In industries such as utilities, telecoms and manufacturing, where enterprise organizations have a large, distributed workforce of remote workers, the value of AR is already being realized. Being able to scale organizational expertise through remote support is key in an industry where veteran workers are reaching retirement age. With augmented reality, non-technical workers can create highly interactive instructions, training materials or service and support documentation, streamlining the process for new and existing employees. We are also starting to see industries like healthcare and education leverage these capabilities. There are already healthcare companies, for instance, building AR tools that can be used in the operating room for surgical training. Teachers, on the other hand, can use augmented reality to create more immersive and collaborative learning experiences in the classroom.
2. AR will increasingly become more present in consumers’ daily lives
Pokemon Go received a lot of
buzz in the media and it drew a lot of attention from technology
leaders, but it all seemed to be a flash in the pan. In 2018, we will
see enterprise companies build on that momentum and increased consumer
interest in leveraging AR to make tasks in their daily lives easier. In
other words, we will see businesses of all shapes and sizes using AR in
order to create more valuable relationships with customers.
There’s more to AR than gaming or adding stormtroopers to live photos. SMBs, in particular, can leverage AR-based collaboration tools to explore the use of this technology with their customers. One excellent example of this is “see what I see” support. An auto repair shop, for instance, can leverage live video-calling solutions so a mechanic can walk a consumer through the repairs needed on the customer’s vehicle, drawing on the real-world view to highlight or circle the exact parts that are broken.
3. Augmented Reality will eclipse Virtual Reality
Most new technologies receive a
considerable amount of publicity when they are first introduced. VR was
hyped extensively until the industry saw poor headset sales and
investment interest dried up. Unlike VR, however, many tech industry
leaders – including Amazon, Facebook, Google, Apple and Microsoft – are
investing heavily in AR hardware, software and tools. Frameworks like
ARKit and ARCore have made it easier than ever to create meaningful
With solutions like WorkLink, employees with no prior coding knowledge can develop simple, engaging instructions leveraging augmented reality – what we like to call “smart instructions.” Employees can use wearables such as HoloLens headsets or even their smartphones to view 3D computer generated imagery overlaid on top of the real world. Picture a construction worker who can repair a piece of machinery by simply holding up his phone and seeing step-by-step instructions. Interactive instructions like these have the power to make enterprise workforces more efficient than ever.
So what’s next in 2018?
AR has already shown tremendous value in terms of enterprise use-cases. Enterprise organizations will be looking for solutions that are future-proofed and designed to work with their existing systems. Companies that invest early in an AR strategy will be able to better serve their customers and stay ahead of their competition.
What other trends will drive augmented reality in 2018?