Augmented and mixed reality support for lab technicians, operators and maintenance technicians
There is currently an increasing demand for more complex personalised products, which also makes the production process more difficult. There are still many manual processes in the food industry and the more complex processes mean employees are confronted with a great deal of information. As a consequence, the cognitive stress is increased, and employees must often refer back to paper documents and task descriptions. For example, due to the increasing complexity and variability it is impossible for a maintenance technician to remember all of the detailed information for all of the machines in the factory. This information is then (often) only available in paper documents, which means training new employees is very time consuming.
In the manufacturing industry, using digital work instructions on screens or tablets for assembly operators has been shown to lead to up to 20% more efficiency, shorter training times and up to 50% fewer errors. These solutions are less suitable in production environments where stops are not possible, and the operator must remain focused on the job.
A solution for this is the recent development in the hardware and software available for Augmented and Mixed Reality (AR and MR) applications. Because the instructions are at the same place as the task, the operator does not need to switch focus, so this technology can be used in a production process.
With the AR/MR living lab, we want to create a framework for applying Augmented and Mixed Reality (AR/MR) in very diverse production and laboratory related tasks. Specifically, we want to obtain this objective by:
The living lab is geared towards various sectors in Flanders that have a very specific environment. The main target groups we want to reach with this living lab are:
Flanders’ FOOD represents the agro-food industry in the living lab. Food companies are currently taking their first steps towards Industry 4.0 and the food factory of the future. The complexity and variability of processes allows Augmented and Mixed Reality to provide support to employees. With the help of the living lab, we want to ensure that companies are informed, inspired and coached. We want to obtain this by gathering the AR and MR systems on the market and showing what the possible applications can be in the food industry. Advice for choosing the right system for your specific needs is also possible.
Lastly, this living lab can be a stepping stone for further research. This will ultimately lead to various benefits for businesses. A lower level of cognitive strain could be obtained, and higher efficiency achieved.
Hasselt University manages and coordinates the project. The new practical cases will be demonstrated by the following research partners:
The cases will be carried out for three actual cases with the following organisations representing the specific sector: