In Industry 4.0, the technological advancement of machines in the workplace is a constantly evolving process. And in the strive for efficiency through automation, a worrying prospect is the fact that the jobs which workers rely on today may be soon gone. While that reality may still be a while away, the DXC Technology and DAQRI Augmented Reality platforms are a positive step away from full robotic automation in the Industrial Enterprise.
The gear is the latest in Industrial Augmented Reality wearables, and the best part is, they work by enhancing workers through technology, rather than replacing them with it. At National Manufacturing Week 2017 we sat down with Jarrod Bassan, the Practice Partner for Digital Technology at DXC, to discuss how their technology is slowly changing the industrial landscape and allowing enterprises to re-think how they approach on-site work and education.
Upon first glance, the smart helmets look like a more elegant version of the Judge Dredd or Robocop Helmet and, once equipped, you’ll certainly feel like you’ve taken a step into a Sci-Fi world. Providing users with data visualisation, thermal vision, guided work instructions and the ability to connect to a remote expert, these Smart Helmets are a multi-purpose tool and a positive evolution from the more traditional (and much less useful) singular-purpose, entertainment-focussed consumer AR we’re used to. In our interview with Mr Bassan, he further discussed the practicality of Smart Helmets in the workplace.
“It allows workers to work completely hands-free and be connected to digital information. This is transforming the nature of work.
It enables productivity and safety in the workplace, and is delivering benefits to any industry that requires workers to be out on the factory floor or out in the field.”
Another promising fact taken from the interview is that Australia is one of the leading countries adopting this technology, ‘simply because of the tyranny of distance’. Because of this, many enterprises are seeing an immediate return on investment through the money and efficiency gained in the reduction of travel. In industries where large workforces are required—often in remote locations—the ability to connect directly to a worker from anywhere in the world with real-time visual and audio is an invaluable tool.
“An office worker can assist [on-site workers] while they’re working, either through drawing on the screen, annotation or showing any designs or plans. All without needing to fly or drive out to finish that task” Mr Bassan Explains.
The technology is only growing in popularity and has already been adopted by aerospace and utility companies for inspection tasks, and also warehouses for pick and place operations.
“Some of these companies are already seeing a 25% improvement in efficiency in warehousing operations and manufacturing companies are looking to reduce the assembly errors in the manufacturing process using AR. Some have already achieved a 90% reduction in error rates during assemblies.”
Another groundbreaking use of the technology comes in the form of educational implementation of the AR helmets and glasses for students or apprentices. Providing real-time data and the ability to generate digital renditions of parts or equipment, the wearable AR technology is giving students the ability to skip books or manuals and instead utilise simulation based, hands-free learning.
So how long will it be before these are pushed into the mainstream for both consumers and industry use? According to Mr Bassan, ‘we are only 1% of the way along the journey for AR and it is a technology that has a lot more to deliver’ and with high-value use cases only coming into development recently, in industrial settings, Mr Bassan forecasts that this AR technology will see a rise in uptake in enterprise landscape within the next 5-10 years, before becoming mainstream in consumer application.