Integrating Microsoft HoloLens into engineering and manufacturing workflows takes time and involves investment. In the long run though it can save manufacturers money, reduce lead times and improve processes.
Many businesses in the sector have evaluated the devices and their capabilities and are now considering how best to deploy mixed reality (MR) solutions – that combine mixed reality with the physical world – to achieve a financial return.
Lots of people talk in grandiose terms about having an MR strategy, but you can’t truly have one unless you understand the technology and where it’s going to benefit your business.
To add business value, HoloLens needs to solve real business problems. Consider how using HoloLens technology is going to improve an existing process. Will it save time? Will it reduce build costs or manufacturing assembly times? Will it improve your service process or time to market? Think about the business benefits and the return on investment. Without that, management are unlikely to provide the manpower or budget to go ahead.
There also needs to be a change management approach. The implementation will require a change in the behaviour and mindsets of people across the whole organisation and how they use technology.
Once you understand the benefits, you need to choose the application you will use. Many companies, including Theorem Solutions, offer ‘out the box’ solutions to help customers reach their HoloLens goals. Before choosing one, do your research; make sure you understand how the provider can meet the needs of your use case.
It’s also important to factor in how you plan to integrate your data in HoloLens. If possible, you don’t want to have to manually rework data to make it usable. Ideally you should be able to simply drag and drop or derive it from a product lifecycle management system.
There are a lot of challenges, but they are all manageable. One of the first things is to be realistic about how you will be able to use HoloLens. Choose a use case, figure out an effective approach to solve it and run with it. Break it down into small elements which will improve your business. Ensure that the use case is practical and choose elements which can be solved quickly. You will then show the benefits of the solution to the business.
People may ask ‘Why not wait until the technology matures before implementing it?’ It’s a good question, but by waiting you will quickly fall behind your competitors. Lots of large companies have already started down this journey, are getting to grips with MR solutions and are seeing how they can improve their business.
With the shift in 2020 towards remote working, the remote collaboration capabilities of HoloLens are more relevant than ever. Now is the time to start making decisions around your engineering and manufacturing processes and the technology that you could be using.
Some organisations have already made significant progress. They have adopted this technology and use it every day to perform at a higher level. It has helped them maintain operations during this difficult period, when other organisations have been forced to reduce hours or even shut down completely. What started initially as an idea is now being used by teams globally; growth and adoption is accelerating as more people are exposed to the benefits that it brings.
Theorem-XR provides solutions which enable companies that use fully automated processes to leverage their rich 3D computer-aided design (CAD) data in MR to address a number of different use cases. Our MR Experiences for HoloLens provide solutions for design review, factory layout, training, work instructions, visualisation and digital twins.
The experiences deliver new ways to work collaboratively, enabling remote teams and home-based staff to work together in an immersive environment.
Theorem Solutions is committed to providing high-value and high-quality solutions to HoloLens users, enabling them to extend the value of their 3D CAD assets.
Mark Stowe is chief technical officer at Theorem Solutions
This article was originally published in the Winter 2020 issue of The Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription.
Share this story