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How re-using S1000D content supports Augmented Reality

What is Augmented Reality?

Let’s be honest, for most of us, Augmented Reality (AR) is a chance to play around on our devices, to catch small creatures, or for our kids to send funny pictures to their friends.

It enables you to view interactive, reality-based information in a real-world environment. Overlaying this digital content gives the viewer an in-situ perspective of the information.

Yet AR is much more than games. This technology is regarded as the next stage of the Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) revolution for connecting products, people, and service.

Aerospace & Defense organizations are adopting AR to improve service and maintenance of platforms. Platforms may have up to a 50-year lifespan. With those in-service to support AND requirements for new S1000D compliant service information, how do you get from where you are today to where you need to be to implement AR , and what are the real benefits?

Where did Augmented Reality originate?

The concept of AR originates in the industrial world with Boeing in 1990.

Tom Caudell was challenged to replace expensive diagrams to guide workers on the factory floor. The idea provided the workers with Head Mounted Displays to view the diagram information and removed a huge amount of manual effort for each step of the manufacturing process.

This was a scientific experiment by Boeing, and the concept of AR remained a scientist’s project until computing power could catch up to make it a viable option for the wider industrial world.

The processing power of handheld or wearable devices has evolved to a stage now that makes it possible, and cost effective, to create and consume AR information.

Why use Augmented Reality?

Paper based instructions are a world staple for providing guidance on how to build furniture, replace ink cartridges, or use over complex household appliances. With the use of these devices generally taking place at home, there is no need to change this established method.

In the Aerospace and Defense sector, however, manufacturers are developing the world’s most complex products, and in small volumes. The engineers supporting these systems are performing highly skilled and sporadic maintenance procedures. With the lifespan of naval vessels and fighter jets at around 30-40 years, the people supporting these systems will also change multiple times.

Some maintenance checks will take place every week; however, there are tasks that only need to take place every couple of years. Ideally, the vessel, plane, or land system will be serviced where it was manufactured, and it can be supported by the teams that designed them in the first place. However, these systems are usually thousands of miles away, and maintenance needs to take place wherever they are at the time using the available resources.

Using service and maintenance instructions delivered by AR means users can be trained as they service the equipment in a 3-dimensional context using step-by-step guides. The visual instructions give full confidence to the user that they are performing the task as per the process set out by the manufacturer. And these visual based guides remove the complication of understanding the instructions where English is not their first language.

By following the AR instructions, users can sign off each stage of the procedure or identify parts that need to be replaced without needing specific in-depth knowledge of the product. The results are improved first time fix rates, reduced repair time, and ultimately reduced total cost of servicing.

Why embrace augmented reality now?

Technology had held back the use of AR for service since Boeing’s initial project nearly 30 years ago.

Every part of the AR experience needed to be custom written from the ground up, and changes meant modifications to the code. You would have needed a team of developers dedicated to supporting AR, which simply was not a cost-effective solution.

Now, technology advances mean that you can re-use your existing CAD content to create AR experiences quickly and easily. Leveraging this content ensures that the output is 100% accurate and replaces word heavy explanations with 3D AR graphics.

Software like PTC's Vuforia Studio is designed to be used by CAD engineers and technical authors so there is no need for specialist coding skills to create AR experiences. End users access the information via an app or Smart Eyewear, so there is also very little training required to understand how to consume the data .

How do you implement Augmented Reality?

So technology has caught up and complex A&D platforms are perfect for adopting AR in service & maintenance procedures, but how do you implement it?

To create an accurate, up-to-date AR experience for maintainers, you need a real-time, accurate flow of data from CAD design right through to the critical service content - A Digital Thread.

In the A&D space, more and more projects are mandating that service content is compliant with the ASD S1000D standard. This means that all supporting information for systems such as seats, landing systems, and engines need to be S1000D compliant to provide a common standard across the industry for content sharing.

In many organisations, engineering, service, and parts information is stored and managed on multiple systems . This means that the quality and integrity of the S1000D service content is compromised and any AR experiences created from it may be impaired.

To address this, GPSL's S1000D for PTC Windchill maintains associativity between source CAD engineering data and parts and service content to accurately support products for the decades of use they will have in the field.

Having the relevant assembly instructions, spare parts lists, and service guides is essential when creating AR experiences and S1000D for PTC Windchill ensures the correct content is being used to generate these AR maintenance tasks.

By having these connected systems, you are enabling the Digital Thread to ensure efficient and reliable processes supporting your AR experiences.

What's the Return On Investment?

The results are simple but far reaching.

  • Better connected processes make it quicker and easier than ever before to create the S1000D service information needed for AR experiences
  • Moving to visual instructions for maintenance tasks gives full confidence to the user that they are performing the task as per the process set out by the manufacturer.
  • And ultimately, the cost of maintaining a platform and the platform downtime through-life are reduced.
Still not convinced?

Want to understand more about using your S1000D content to support AR? Come join us at the S1000D User Forum from October 14th- 17th.


You can read more about S1000D for PTC Windchill here or get in touch with our team to talk through your S1000D requirements.

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