AMRC shows manufacturers how to peer into the future with Microsoft HoloLens

08 September 2016

Over 100 global manufacturing companies have the unique opportunity to interact with the first Microsoft HoloLens within a High-Value Manufacturing Catapult research centre.

The Microsoft HoloLens in use at the Factory 2050: The Smart Factory Conference 

The HoloLens is being demonstrated for delegates at The Smart Factory, a two-day conference which opened today (7 September 2016), hosted by the Integrated Manufacturing Group (IMG) of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing at their new word-class facility, Factory 2050.

Presenting a UK vision for the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0), IMG aims to give delegates the opportunity to come together at the conference to discuss and interact with the technologies driving change in the manufacturing sector.

Bringing together robotics, large volume metrology and manufacturing informatics with augmented and virtual reality technologies, IMG create innovative systems that can assemble complex structures perfectly, first time and every time.

Delegates at the conference (7 September 2016) These unique capabilities are being showcased in demonstrations for delegates, some of which focus on the range of augmented, virtual and mixed reality technologies being used by the AMRC to develop digitally assisted assembly applications, including the HoloLens.

The AMRC is one of a handful of research centres in the UK to be working with the HoloLens; a self-contained, mixed reality head mounted device, capable of producing interactive, situational holograms. It is currently unavailable commercially in the UK, so the AMRC is using the opportunity to mature manufacturing processes ready for industry early adopters.

AMRC Augmented Reality Technical Fellow, Chris Freeman, said: "Along with a range of other wearable technologies such as the HTC Vive, ODG R-7 Glasses and Google Glass, we are assessing the HoloLens for its suitability to create proof of concept applications for automated assembly tasks and in-line support assistance.

"For technologies like these, the ultimate goal is that they will be used for digitally assisted assembly techniques, assisting engineers and technicians to improve quality and create efficiencies by reducing rework, scrappage and concessions," said Chris Freeman.

"These kinds of technologies will also have benefits for inline process improvement, helping to remove non-value added tasks from a manufacturing process and connect operators remotely to colleagues and supervisors to speed up processes such as in-line verification; ultimately freeing up time and space on the work shop floor."

Delegates will be able to see the HoloLens demonstrated for a number of uses including remote support and training, and as a quick reference tool for complex machinery. This technology will demonstrate how engineering CAD data can be turned into full scale, movable holograms and placed within a factory layout using the HoloLens' environmental tracking.

Virtual assembly and training instructions being demonstrated using the Microsoft HoloLens at the conference (7 September 2016) Companies demonstrating digital technologies at the conference also include TESTIA, an Airbus Group company. TESTIA will be showcasing SART, an industrial real-time augmented reality application designed to allow operators greater control over component assembly and installation conformity.

Delta Sigma will be demonstrating its work using high resolution optical projectors to create augmented reality technology that projects assembly instructions onto components.

Intoware will be demonstrating a range of mobile and wearable based applications which aid workflow delivery and remote support.

The conference is also being supported by the Augmented Reality Enterprise Alliance, which focuses on accelerating augmented reality adoption in enterprise.

Chris Freeman said effective and early adoption of digitally assisted assembly technologies can boost the potential of UK manufacturing:

"Engaging with new technologies early mean companies are more aware of the digital footprint in the life cycle of a product, the impact it will have on a manufacturing environment and how they can help create a robust and diverse workforce with experts in multiple fields."

"Here at the AMRC we are developing the manufacturing processes of tomorrow and actively promoting the most effective routes to industry, to show the manufacturing sector what impact these technologies will have on their businesses in the short and medium term."

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