Illumination

Insights and trends on augmented reality and advanced manufacturing technology
12July2017

So Long Smart Arm: How AR is Improving Torque Sequencing & Cycle Times

To achieve optimal results, most manufacturers spend hours defining and refining their processes and workflow. But even a perfect process can face unexpected roadblocks.

Whether you build planes, prosthetics, circuit boards or cars, no industry is immune from experiencing common manufacturing pitfalls that stem from issues, such as component misalignment; stripped, cross-threaded or over-torqued bolts; bottlenecks or even, human error. The rework costs that can result from these mistakes can be astronomical.

The Path Toward a No-Faults Forward Process

In an effort to achieve a no-faults-forward operation, manufacturers must identify these pain points within their current processes and implement efficient, economical solutions that can be consistently replicated at scale across multiple workstations, shifts or factories—a feat that has historically been much easier said than done.

If your goal is to drive an assembly process bolt-to-bolt in sequence to achieve maximum clamp load, for example, you’re usually looking at making a significant investment in a smart arm with encoders, which often comes with a fairly extensive amount of hardware that must be planned for and maintained.

The Industry 4.0 Innovations That Make It Possible

Thankfully, the Industry 4.0 revolution has given rise to a vast array of advanced manufacturing technologies and cost-effective solutions that can be used to accomplish the same goal much more efficiently.

One of those advancements is a projection-based augmented reality solution, that seamlessly integrates into workstations and works in concert with existing torque tools and equipment, such as wrenches, machine vision cameras and collaborative robots, to standardize complex manufacturing and assembly tasks.

Enhancing Torque Tools 

A projector-based augmented reality solution, like Light Guide Systems, has been proven to help manufacturers achieve a tool-enabling assembly process bolt-to-bolt, and is the perfect enhancement to a smart or transducerized torque tool.

It can tell you the exact torque and angle that goes into each fastener, and then project those numbers onto the workstation canvas. By directing the operator through a series of audio and visual prompts, Light Guide Systems verifies that you’re putting the right part in the right place at the right time.

Through Open Protocol communication with the torque tool, Light Guide Systems technology will not enable the tool until it is in the correct spacial position, and it won’t let an operator advance in the process until each action is correctly taken. This is incredibly valuable for establishing a no-faults forward factory.

Trimming Cycle Times

Every manufacturer looks for ways to reduce their cycle time. Often, the clock is installed away from the workstation, meaning operators must stop what they’re doing to check their time. Even if only for a second or two, the constant starting and stopping ultimately ends up lowering cycle time and efficiency.

With projector-based augmented reality, that “shot clock” is projected directly onto a canvas that covers a specific workstation. By staying focused on the task at hand and avoiding the temptation to glance away from the workpiece, operators can do things faster and make improvements to their cycle time.

As an added benefit, the reduced cycle time and efficiency gained from projection AR can lower stress levels in employees – an invaluable perk – while also keeping them highly engaged, challenged and productive. 

What are your manufacturing pain points? Send us a message, and a member of our solutions team will be in touch to discuss the challenges you’re facing and talk through various augmented reality applications that could drastically improve your manufacturing operations.

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Steve Griffin

Steve Griffin

Steve Griffin is the Senior Director of AR Sales for OPS Solutions. Steve has over 16 years of experience selling advanced assembly solutions in manufacturing, with a strong emphasis on error proofing to maximize customer ROI. Steve holds a BS degree in television production from Ferris State University.
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