Landmark deal sees AMRC become ‘lighthouse demonstrator’ for Augmented Reality

Posted on 6 Aug 2020 by Jonny Williamson

The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre has signed an agreement for one of the UK’s largest ever deployments of Augmented Reality technology.

Augmented Reality (AR) played an integral role in remotely transferring manufacturing expertise safely to a number of new production lines supporting the build of almost 13,500 ventilators for the VentilatorChallengeUK Consortium.

As a result, the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) will now implement PTC’s Vuforia Expert Capture (VEC) software across its three innovation sites in the UK.

VEC allows a task to be recorded using a wearable device; this content can then be turned into a step-by-step video guide with instructions for workers to implement at multiple sites and companies.

Professor Rab Scott, Head of Digital at the University of Sheffield AMRC, commented: “Vuforia Expert Capture will be used primarily by our Factory 2050 teams to deliver upskilling and reskilling solutions for our aerospace partners, with the potential for much wider application into other sectors.

“Our involvement in VCUK gave us first-hand experience of the power of AR in helping to quickly set up new manufacturing lines safely by rapidly transferring production knowledge to different facilities.”

He continued: “It has the potential to transform future supply chains and this is something we wanted to explore in more detail by giving researchers, our existing manufacturing partners and SMEs easy access to VEC and other PTC technologies.”

Augmented Reality - 1 - Airbus employees using VEC technology as part of the VentilatorChallengeUK consortium project

PTC became a Tier One Partner of the AMRC in 2017, with its ThingWorx® IoT platform helping connect machinery and devices at its Factory 2050 facility.

In addition to VEC, experts at the research and innovation centres will also be able to maximise the capability of Vuforia Chalk, a remote assistance product that leverages AR to help employees collaborate in operational, maintenance and repair situations.

David Grammer, UK Country Manager at PTC, noted: “The high-profile nature of the VentilatorChallengeUK has really thrust Augmented Reality into the spotlight and proved that it is a technology that manufacturers can easily adopt and successfully implement now and not in five, 10 or even 20 years’ time.

“Using Vuforia Expert Capture and Vuforia Chalk allowed us to parachute a virtual Smiths Medical manufacturing expert into new production lines, giving engineers who had never worked on ventilators before access to all the guidance and advice they required to complete the build.

“AR reduced the time taken to create the new supply chain by a number of weeks and also protected all the workers involved in the project by ensuring staff were not moving from site to site, reducing the risk of Covid-19 spreading.”