Applying Augmented Reality to Heat Treatment

Often considered an enhancement of your surrounding environment, augmented reality technology integrates computer-generated graphics, sounds, haptic feedback and smell into real-world settings. The goal is to augment what we see, smell, hear and feel.

guy using augmented realityThe concept of augmented reality has been around for a while. Just think of the 1984 blockbuster, The Terminator, where the Terminator’s vision had an overlay that provided extra details on people, objects and objectives. Since then, augmented reality (AR) has grown by leaps and bounds, especially in the past two to three years. Just this year, in fact, Apple released an ARKit with its newest iPhone software update, iOS 11. This means developers have the ability to better integrate AR into their apps and software, and users can expect to experience AR in more aspects of their everyday life.

While AR has the potential to impact our everyday life – whether it’s using an overlay to help us find lost items or placing to-scale furniture in our living room for an augmented shopping experience – its reach is much larger than that. Augmented reality is about changing the way we see and interact with the world around us. When you tie it to industry applications, the potential is enormous.

Imagine being able to send out a service technician to repair a piece of equipment, and with the addition of AR, he can see its past service history, any notes left by other service technicians, access step-by-step troubleshooting instructions and view a digital overlay of the equipment he will be repairing. Not only does he have all the necessary information to make an accurate diagnosis, but he also knows exactly what steps to take.

Companies like GE, Ford and Boeing have all been investing in digital technologies and using AR to enhance the way they work and do business. But the reality is that we’re only just now scratching the surface of what’s possible. Augmented reality has the potential to transform industries, including the thermal processing industry. It has the ability to simplify complex assemblies and work instructions, reduce maintenance times, provide advanced support and training, improve quality assurance and enhance workers’ capabilities.

With a commitment to innovation and embracing new technologies, Ipsen has embarked on a journey to bring digital technologies – and the advantages they offer – to their customers. This journey started with the PdMetrics® predictive maintenance software platform, and now that same platform is being enhanced with the addition of AR.

In the near future, furnace owners and operators will be able to install PdMetrics with augmented reality on their vacuum or atmosphere furnaces. They can then walk around the furnace with a phone or tablet to see what’s happening with the equipment in real-time or locate a specific component. When there’s a need for maintenance, troubleshooting or training, they can see a visual representation of the furnace’s performance through virtual gauges overlaid on furnace components, as well as step-by-step instructions.

In the end, AR has the potential to transform the way operators experience their heat-treating equipment and perform maintenance. Want to know more? View this presentation on how augmented reality can impact heat treatment.

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