Director @ Industrial Sight
Increased complexity in manufacturing – Increased complexity for technicians?
The workload and required knowledge base of technicians is increasing. Smart Augmented Reality Glasses can be used to assist a technician or engineer leaving them hands-free to get the job done. This is an opportunity for Ireland to get ahead by embracing a new technology that will change the way we work
Manufacturing is changing. With an increase in additive manufacturing, increased automation, and increased systems complexity, there appears to be a need for more technicians, with the skill requirement on these technicians is also increasing. This change in manufacturing technologies offers Ireland a great opportunity as more flexible machinery, smaller lot sizes and less input of low skill workers reduces some of the advantages other regions have had over us in the past.
Furthermore, our success in this transition will be defined by our efficiency at managing this complexity. Energy efficiency and waste management is heavily influenced by the technician’s efficiency in operating their equipment and failures or below par operation can be wasteful and damaging.
I believe that there is a great opportunity in using Smart Glasses and Augmented Reality (AR) to provide hands-free supplementary information to onsite technicians. Using marker technology (similar to QR codes) smart glasses can recognise the machine or asset the technician is looking at and project specific information onto the inner lens of the glasses, visible only to the wearer. This can span from simple descriptive information on what the technician is looking at, to live meter data, work procedures. The headsets can also be used to facilitate “Remote expert” video calls whereby a remote expert can (using the front facing camera on a headset) see what the local technician is looking at and can share their screen, write notes or draw on the visual the wearer is looking at to provide the expert advice the wearer needs to complete their task.
I believe that these sorts of technologies will allow Ireland to grow and become more efficient while minimising our need to supplement the workforce we have available to us on the island. This will help improve the prospects of our current workforce without needing to import external expertise.
Functions of Smart Glasses and Augmented Reality Remote Eyes – The technology allows the technician to make a call back to a remote expert, allowing the expert to see what the technician is seeing using the forward-facing camera. The expert can then draw on the inner lens of the technician and talk them though the actions that need to be taken.
Work Procedures – With increasingly complex systems, technicians are asked to complete maintenance and other procedures on a growing number of assets. Some of this can be regular while other is irregular and therefore challenging to ensure correct procedures are followed. Smart AR glasses can be used to step a technician through a procedure hands free and while actually doing the work.
Asset Information and Data – Augmented Reality glasses use forward facing cameras to recognise markers on an asset when a technician or engineer looks at it. From there they will be able to see information relevant to the asset they are working on projected on the lenses of their glasses, leaving them hands-free to do their job. Relevant information might include drawings, data sheets, OEM documentation, usage metrics, safety warnings, environmental guidance or simply notes saved by a previous technician.