Manufacturing with AR Technology: Our Team Shares Their Most Memorable Projects
Here at OPS Solutions, there’s no manufacturing challenge our team can’t solve. As a leader driving the next wave of manufacturing innovation, we’ve proven that augmented reality (AR) technology can be used to build anything—from cars, circuit boards and cookies to pacemakers, jet turbines and even yachts!
Since we started using AR to help companies address common manufacturing challenges in 2005, we’ve had the opportunity to work on a wide variety of projects for companies around the world, and across a wide variety of industries.
I recently overheard some members of our engineering team discussing some of their most memorable projects and wanted to take a moment to highlight our incredible, hardworking team for their continued support in driving manufacturing innovation.
Read on to learn more about the exciting projects our team has supported and what we’d love to program our AR technology, Light Guide System, to build next!
What are some of the most rewarding projects you’ve worked on?
Mike Koper, CmfgT, CmfgE, PEM, CoP, CMRP | Senior Director Augmented Reality Solutions
One of my favorite (and most challenging) projects I worked on was a part picking and packing cell for a large OEM automaker. The automaker was experiencing high amounts of international regulatory fines due to mis-packed or missing parts not matching the shipper invoice, and spending millions on outsourced services to unpack, verify and repack the shipments.
We integrated Light Guide Systems with their existing warehouse management system and provided error proofing by verifying the correct part was packed in the correct box.
The warehouse management system tells Light Guide Systems which parts need to be put in each bin. Our system then illuminates the correct part and corresponding bin to guide the operator through the packing process. A vision camera then verifies that the correct part was placed in the bin, providing the error-proofing the automaker was looking for.
Brad Foley | AR System Design Engineering Team Leader
One of the most rewarding Light Guide Systems projects I worked on was the demonstration for the Automate Trade Show in Chicago in 2016. I worked in collaboration with , to develop our first demo to ever integrate our augmented reality technology with a robot.
I was able to work on this project from start to finish, designing the structure and working through the engineering. I even ordered the necessary components and developed the demo with our partner.
Our patented technology was able to “complete the collaborative robot experience, because Light Guide Systems told the operator what the robot was thinking”. Our AR technology talked to the operator and displayed information that the robot needed to do. Seeing this project pique peoples’ interest in Light Guide Systems was a proud moment for me.
It’s hard to pick a favorite project since I have worked on a lot of cool Light Guide Systems applications. We once mapped out a system for making batches of chocolate chip cookies. We used smart scales to give operators the correct measure of ingredients for each batch. I also think it’s awesome every time we work on engine block inspection systems for various V6, V8, and V12 sports car engines.
Mikayla Ray | AR Sales Engineer
The most rewarding project I’ve worked on is actually a series of projects with one company. We have various applications with a large automotive interiors supplier, including door panel inspections and instrument panel assemblies and inspections.
I had several meetings with the customer on their needs and wants in relation to Light Guide Systems and found they were looking for a way to better track the data our system collects. These conversations led to the conception of our Live Data Viewer, which allows the operator to see current production data in real time.
After a successful run, the Live Data Viewer (and other analytics services) recently launched globally as a complementary product to Light Guide Systems. It is rewarding to know that we focus on the customer and are willing and able to adapt our product line based on their needs.
Miranda Perry | Software Engineer
The most rewarding project to me, by far, was our very first monitor-based kitting cell system. Monitor-based kitting is when we place a TV monitor above the item racks, and then highlight on the monitor where the parts are located.
The system was nothing like anything we had done before. Learning from and adjusting to operator feedback during the install was a lot of fun.
I will never forget the time when one of the operators told me she was suspicious of Light Guide System’s value at first. But after using the AR technology, she said she never wants to go back to the days before we installed it.
Another favorite project was a demo I made for a medical manufacturing trade show that counted pills and tracked them in two dimensions using the Light Guide Systems Pro webcam. It circled pills if they were the wrong color, or if too many were placed.
Michael Savino | Advanced Projects Engineer
One of the most rewarding projects for me was installing a training station at a manufacturer in Belgium that employs people with disabilities. The company turned to OPS Solutions to assist in creating a safe and comfortable work environment for their team to perform manual processes. Light Guide Systems turned out to be a perfect fit for this unique atmosphere, and slowly but surely flourished throughout the plant.
I visited the facility twice in 2016 to help them set up a training station in an upstairs conference room. While a normal training session is about four hours, I spent a week teaching Light Guide Systems to a group of five employees. During the training, the team learned everything about our augmented reality technology, from the simple to the complex.
Even after my time there, the company continued to push our software past its limitations and they have since become one of Light Guide Systems’ most successful super users, installing several more systems since my first trip.
Courtney Myers | Applications Engineer
One of my greatest fears with becoming an engineer was that I would end up repeating the same tasks over and over. That’s a large part of why I joined OPS Solutions. It’s a company that is founded on innovation and dedicated to pushing the possibilities of what it can do. Despite this, I had no idea just how many different types of things I would end up doing, or how much of our process I would be involved in.
When I first joined the applications engineering team, I was given a simple door panel inspection bench to create a CAD design as a means of learning our software. After finishing that, however, I assumed that it would be the last I saw of that project, but I was very wrong.
Not only did I end up following it through the entire in-house process (including a proof of concept and customer buyoff), but I also ended up traveling to an automotive interiors plant to help install the system. Getting to be part of a project from the initial concept through implementation is a pretty rare thing, and it was awesome to see the system I designed come together and bring standardization and improvement to the customer’s process.
Steve Griffin | Senior Direct AR Sales
Some of the most rewarding work I’ve done at OPS Solutions involved multiple projects for a large home appliance manufacturer, which included motor assembly stations and kitting stations.
I have also enjoyed working with a large automobile manufacturer to deploy systems across multiple manufacturing plants, some of which include head cover gasket installations and headliner wire harness installations.
These projects are rewarding for me because I am getting to see firsthand the benefits of deploying multiple Light Guide Systems in a manufacturing environment. First the kit is correctly assembled with Light Guide Systems, then the technology can guide the operator through the correct assembly. It error-proofs the manufacturing process from beginning to end.
Another favorite project was a multistep kitting cell with sub-assemblies for a snowmobile/ATV manufacturer. Light Guide Systems let the operator know which items to select, and then guides them through a sub-assembly. The software was interfaced with a press that could only be unlocked once that step in the process was reached.
There were multiple sub-assemblies and checks made along the way with vision cameras, including a final check station to make sure everything included in the kit was correct. This job was one of my favorites because of the variety of steps included in one cell. It also helped push us to interface with AR technology in ways we hadn’t done yet.
Our team is constantly on the lookout for the next exciting challenge and eager to help solve any manufacturing problem. Send us a message if you have a challenge for us to tackle!