We operate some of the most advanced manufacturing equipment in the world, and employ a team of highly skilled engineers, many of whom are leading experts in their field. This creates a high quality environment for the development and demonstration of new processes and technologies on an industrial scale.
The MTC’s areas of expertise are directly relevant to both large and small companies, and are applicable across a wide range of industry sectors. The MTC’s members include global manufacturing companies from multiple sectors. Research partners include the University of Birmingham, University of Nottingham, Loughborough University and TWI Ltd.
The MTC is part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, supported by Innovate UK.
Background and Achievements
The MTC has an established track record in delivering projects surrounding Virtual Reality and Virtual Simulation.
The journey towards Augmented Reality stemmed from industry member needs, and as a result, project VIVAR (Virtual Instruction Inspection and Verification using Augmented and Virtual Reality) was created. VIVAR aimed to produce tools for enterprise manufacturing assembly, maintenance and repair through the system integration of a PLM and MES with Advanced Visualisation Devices (AdVs) including the HoloLens and tablet. The project was steered by top-tier manufacturing assembly industrial members and in collaboration with technology providers to create and demo an AR hardware/software agnostic platform.
The MTC is also part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult Forum in Visualisation and Virtual Reality and is keen to engage in current and future committees within the AREA and other external organisations establishing future frameworks for AR/VR in enterprise.
Challenges to be addressed by AR
Current challenges being addresses at the MTC are:
- Agnostic AR platform offering full compliance with conventional enterprise systems on market
- Automated verification and validation of assembly/processes
- AR combined with Artificial Intelligence (AI)
- AR connectivity with Building Information Modelling (BIM) process
- Human factors and ergonomics study – Best practice for AR
- Smart/virtual content authoring
Why AR is a Strategic Area
AR was identified as a key technology to research and de-risk at the MTC when it first came to light as a disruptive technology. In collaboration with industrial members alongside internal research, the MTC created a strategy road map for Advanced Visualisation Devices. This has contributed to a growth in size and capability in the technical expertise within the engineering teams. The successful projects so far have garnered high interest across our internal and external industrial organisations across multiple sectors including aerospace, automotive, electronic manufacturing, medical and military.
Our predictions are that, as the technology revolutionises and frameworks of standards are established, this will pave the way for easier adoption for businesses. This technology can reduce manufacturing errors and increase efficiency, saving industries significant amounts of time and cost across numerous use cases. AR devices are essentially assistive tools that can also aid in maximising learning and level of retention to provide effective training to the user/worker. This will not only enable higher worker performance but also contribute to safer working methods in the future.