Czech-carmaker Skoda Auto is testing a new augmented reality (AR) application – known as HoloLens glasses – to assist with production line maintenance. The company says the new technology will provide enhanced assistance for technicians, facilitates live remote training and helps to reduce the likelihood of errors.
The trial technology allows manuals, maintenance checklists and other documents to be projected as holographic images directly into the user’s immediate field of vision while working. This AR view can also be shared during video calls to show what is being seen on the line and consult with colleagues who are not on site.
Through the glasses, engineers can view holograms of manuals, checklists and instructions during technical maintenance. Once the staff member has scanned a QR code on the respective equipment, the embedded documents interactively guide them through the maintenance work step-by-step with photos and videos, allowing technicians to be hands-free at all times. When a task has been completed, the technician ticks it off with a hand movement in the hologram.
The new program is being delivered as part of a pilot project led by the company’s Central Technical Service department and the Skoda Auto FabLab.
Miroslav Kroupa, Head of Brand Management at Skoda Auto explained: “As part of our current pilot project, we are relying on augmented reality to optimise the maintenance and repair of our machines and to minimise the error rate. With the HoloLens glasses, our technicians have all the relevant information at a glance at all times and can concentrate fully on their work at the same time. In this way, the AR glasses help to further increase work safety. The tool makes it possible to exchange information flexibly anywhere and at any time, even with colleagues at other locations or in different time zones. This speeds up maintenance processes significantly and is an enormous advantage, especially in times of the Covid-19 pandemic. Furthermore, the glasses add gamification elements to everyday work and inspire young candidates for technical professions.”
The AR technology is expected to reduce the likelihood of making a mistake, enables service intervals to be carried out on a more flexible basis, and speeds up the maintenance process. Any remaining service requirement is recorded on the internal system via the Wi-Fi connection. HoloLens glasses also make repair work much easier as – thanks to the video instructions – it is no longer necessary to refer to bulky technical manuals.
The HoloLens consists of the actual glasses, which make holograms visible, and a camera-projector unit. The lenses allow for excellent peripheral vision, with virtual displays complementing the real surroundings. The visor can be flipped up at any time to pause the mixed reality.
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