The Handyman and The Gentleman – AR #7 – Vuforia Work Instructions
To continue discussing how relevant Augmented Reality (AR) is for the industrial enterprise, in this blog, I will focus on empowering your organization's most valuable asset – your people with the new Vuforia Instruct. I will delve deeper into the process and the components that organizations like yours already use today when creating Work Instructions that bridge language barriers, speed up training, minimize skills gaps, and allow workers to perform with confidence and precision from the onset.
Vuforia Instruct brings the long-awaited ability for enterprises to effortlessly re-use CAD design, without heavy manual coding and troubleshooting, to anchor work task-related information to the physical products. This unique feature allows for visual guidance of the users to systematically perform manual frontline work like the experts during each step of the procedure execution.
Relevant digital work instructions and business-critical insight of Industrial Frontline Work
Improve information delivery, speed up knowledge transfer, modernize training methods, minimize skills gap, easy access to remote expertise, improve customer experiences, and insight into frontline- and fieldwork quality and status. These are all business process improvements linked to controlling and distributing accurate and up-to-date visual work instructions that the workers efficiently use at the front line.
Business process challenges, sharpening competition, and business disruption
Industrial companies invest in creating structured plans linked to work instructions and workflows locked away in siloed systems. Often, field workers still must rely on traditional, outdated paper documentation to execute their daily work. Managers and business owners still have to rely on their operator's and technician's memory and skill retention - a viable way to provide accurate and up-to-date digital work instructions to the frontline workers is lacking the business.
Status and feedback of manual work at the frontline have long shelf time and many times manually fed and copied between systems based on the memory and paper notes from the workers, traceability is completely lacking or is hard to achieve. Long shelf time and human interpretation of worker notes are error-prone and time-consuming, data is getting lost, customer requirements and expectations are hard and costly to meet!
Industrial enterprises lack business improvement capabilities that have been only a vision ever since the first AR demos were seen, like overlaying relevant digital information on the physical world.
After seeing the first AR demos, several Industrial Enterprises engaged in a "vision" journey. It is a journey of heavy hand-coding, user experiences challenges, and building IT infrastructure and applications for customized solutions consisting of various emerging and traditional technology components. Only to find themselves in an ever-ending pilot purgatory with production implementation and scalability challenges, realizing they are not a software company and need to focus back on their core business.
A few succeeded, but for many, the journey ended there. The confidence in the technology to provide the desired benefits faded, but the business challenges remain combined with increasingly tough competition and business disruptors.
Industrial grade Augmented Reality Solutions
For the past several years, AR "as a technology" has proven benefits for business process improvement. Still, heavy manual tasks and many breaches in the process make content creation difficult and inefficient. Accuracy and traceability are tough to achieve, and many heavy manual tasks break up the process - for most industrial organizations, it is not a viable way of working as automation and speed are equal to success!
Ready-to-use industrial-grade AR solutions have been lacking in the industrial market. PTC's Vuforia is now showing the way. With its SaaS offering through Vuforia Expert Capture and the new (June 2021) Vuforia Instruct solutions. Combining Expert Capture and Instruct makes them stronger together, and this is what forms Vuforia Work Instructions. In short, capture, author, execute digital work instructions and analyze the related frontline work as it's performed through built-in feedback data capture.
Also, not forgetting the remote assistance solution Vuforia Chalk. Chalk is used for remotely solving unpredicted situations and troubleshooting in the field and at the customer site. These are situations that can not be anticipated and documented before their occurrence. Experts use Chalk to visually assist technicians and customers by drawing easy-to-understand in context "Chalk marks" that stick to the environment. All involved experience optimized time consumption and minimize traveling needs - solving the problems quickly and remotely!
AR is a built-in "ingredient" and is a powerful feature, where applicable, to visually guide the users or place the content in a comfortable, easy-to-view, and easy-to-understand location. Still, the procedure execution is never dependent on it. Not being dependent on computer vision technology in all situations makes the Vuforia industrial solutions viable and beneficial for a broader set of use cases and across the value chain. For the conditions where computer vision is practical and relevant, an impressive business impact will be a reality. It is an unprecedented means of guiding the user in working correctly and efficiently.
The information is easily accessed and displayed in the product or problem context to execute the manual work task precisely! Field reports and analytical execution data are generated and gathered efficiently by the solution for insight, quality assurance, transparency and continuous improvement of the manual work, related products, and processes.
Suppose computer vision technology is not applicable for the use case or the user, no problem. In that case, the digital work instructions are available in a supported format, and reporting during work execution is still viable!
The components of Vuforia Work Instructions
PTC has designed the Vuforia SaaS solutions with a fine balance between simplicity and functionality from the onset. The focus is easy-to-use and speed to productivity. Version history, traceability, collaboration and security are essential.
Vuforia Expert Capture - turn the worker's knowledge into up-to-date digital and visual step-by-step Work Instructions
Vuforia Expert Capture allows for quick and easy capturing and documentation of business-critical tacit expertise and best practices. The tacit knowledge is quickly and easily captured and turned into digital and visual step-by-step work instructions ensuring business continuity. Documenting the tacit knowledge allows for worker agility and new business models like customer self-service and outsourcing of services while controlling content distribution and protecting critical IP.
The new Vuforia Instruct - Explicit, in context, visual guidance
Re-using 3D CAD design data to create visual guidance on physical assets is the core capability of Vuforia Instruct that saw general availability in June '21. Visual live guides are highlighting points of interest on the physical assets during the procedure execution. Each step can also contain audiovisual and textual instructions, allowing the user to perform as the expert with high confidence and precision. Safety and compliance are critical and easily incorporated as an essential part of the visual work instructions.
Information distribution, compliance, user feedback, traceability, and reporting of manual fieldwork - made easy
Customized access control allows for the proper flow of information through segmentation and personalization, ensuring relevant procedures are only available internally and or externally to the right people. Protecting business-critical IP while ensuring compliance and security is easy with Vuforia. Never again leave documentation full of business-critical IP lying around on site. When the work is complete, easily remove information access when it is not needed anymore by the workers or contractors.
Vuforia Vantage handles optimized delivery of work instructions to the frontline. The step-by-step workflow consumed through Vantage allows for immediate feedback and reporting ensuring traceability, transparency, and continuous improvement of related products, processes, and fieldwork. Logging the procedure or work task to specific IDs that enable structured trend analysis in Vuforia Insights is straightforward.
Organizations leverage Vuforia Insights as a secure interface to analyzing procedure-level and step-level execution data. Vuforia Insights helps organizations understand the field workforce and assets performance. Reporting happens through simple pass/fail and verify checkmarks, including possible text input at each procedure step. All of this, at your fingertips parallel to the work being performed!
Immediate, collaborative, scalable, available, and traceable
Cloud-based technology is no longer a "nice to have." It is getting ever harder to stay competitive in a fast-moving and ever-changing business. A "true" SaaS solution promotes speed of adoption. The learning curve is steep as user experience, functionality, and simplicity are perfectly balanced, optimized, and templatized. In short, it is hard to get it wrong!
Cloud software removes support and IT costs and ensures uptime, availability, security, and compliance. Everyone always works on the same software version and can collaborate around the same content or procedure in this case. Access is immediate and independent of the hardware used. It is possible to track, manage, and access all changes to the content – by who, when it happened, and what was worked upon in a procedure over time - and since initiation.
Improve workforce efficiency and traceability
AR as a technology has matured and paved the way to viable and available industrial-grade solutions that provide instant and long-term business benefits. For traditional businesses, it can make the difference of being the disruptor or being disrupted!
The Vuforia solutions are engineered based upon actual customer needs. Vuforia is continuously improved and extended in a high phase based on commonly seen global high-value industrial use cases – and adoption means benefitting from all this immediately and long term!
The race has begun on many levels, both on the software, hardware, and adoption side. Being part of the right ecosystem with the right long- and short-term strategy will conduce to success! PDSVISION is positioned correctly, and you can also be! Read more about Vuforia Instruct
Below is a list of commonly seen high-priority Industrial use cases supported by Vuforia Work Instructions. Suppose you can identify your business challenges or digital incentives in any or several of these. Please get in touch with us, we will help you succeed with impact, speed, and scale:
- Inspection Training and Upskilling
- Job Specific Operator & Situational Training
- Incoming Parts Inspection
- In-Line or End-of-Line Inspection
- Assembly & Operator Work Instructions
- Maintenance, Set-up & Changeover Instructions
- Field Maintenance Inspection
- Technician Field Maintenance & Service Instructions
- Dealership or Pre-Delivery Inspection
- Customer Self: Operation, Maintenance, and Training
- Installation& Commissioning Instructions