The industrial innovations business is part of the VentilatorChallengeUK manufacturers’ consortium that is battling Covid-19 and includes Airbus and McLaren. The super-sized digital guide PTC has developed is for workers on two new assembly lines, overcoming social distancing constraints and making rapid production possible. The manual, relayed via wearable equipment or smart devices, is for the group’s factories that traditionally do not make ventilators.
PTC’s Vuforia technology together with Microsoft’s HoloLens headsets work as a virtual instructor, replacing human equivalents.
The guide’s projections, created by 15 of its specialists, steer workers with no prior experience safely through every step as they undertake the rapid build.
“Protecting them is paramount and AR is ideal for reducing infection risks,” says Paul Haimes, vice president of field engineering at PTC (officially the Parametric Technology Corporation), a US-owned company whose UK base is in Farnborough, Hampshire.
“With AR we have reduced set-up lead times and developed a manufacturing approach that will help the consortium scale up from some 50 ventilators combined capacity a week to producing at least 1500 units of the models every seven days,” he explains.
“For the Challenge partners we had to find a way to transfer knowledge of ventilator production into a factory that normally would produce cars or aeroplanes.
“The build takes over 24 hours and we have put annotations over the footage to help troubleshoot any potential issues.”
Creating assembly lines typically takes six months, but the Challenge has done this in weeks. Haimes adds: “This is an unprecedented response from UK manufacturing to an unprecedented crisis.”