Augmented Reality plays vital role in UK’s ventilator production push

Wednesday April 29th, 2020


One of the world’s leading providers of industrial innovation technology is supporting the UK’s call for more ventilators through the power of Augmented Reality (AR).


PTC, with local headquarters in Farnborough, is one of the enablement partners in the VentilatorChallengeUK consortium led by High Value Manufacturing Catapult CEO Dick Elsy and a host of the UK’s leading engineering businesses, including, but not exclusively, Ford Motor Company, GKN Aerospace, McLaren, Airbus, Meggitt and Siemens UK.

Experts have been working with existing ventilator manufacturers Smiths Group and Penlon to document crucial assembly processes involved in the development and build of Rapidly Manufactured Ventilator Systems (RMVS).

The consortium has used PTC’s Vuforia® Expert Capture AR technology and Microsoft’s HoloLens to capture the crucial assembly steps and processes involved in building Rapidly Manufactured Ventilator Systems (RMVS). This will be uploaded and edited in PTC’s Vuforia Editor technology, which runs on Microsoft Azure, to create a virtual assembly guide and relayed, through wearable equipment or smart devices such as phone or tablet, to the factories of consortium partners that traditionally do not make ventilators.

Protecting all the workers involved in the project is of paramount importance to the consortium. This is where AR is ideal for removing a lot of the dangers, by virtually placing a ventilator expert into a partner factory – thus reducing the risk of the virus spreading.

“This is an unprecedented response from UK manufacturing for an unprecedented crisis and I’m delighted we have been able to support the VentilatorChallengeUK consortium to create two new ventilation production lines in a matter of weeks, a feat that would typically take six months to do,” explained Paul Haimes, Vice President of Field Engineering at PTC.

“At the heart of the project was the need to transfer the expertise, skills and intellectual property of the assembly lines at Smith and Penlon into a number of new facilities, something we have achieved through the power of Augmented Reality.”

He continued: “The build takes over 24 hours and we’ve captured all of the different stages through our Vuforia Expert Capture (VEC) software and a worker wearing Microsoft HoloLens glasses.

A 15-strong team of PTC specialists have been working on this project and, in order to avoid transmission of Covid-19, only one specialist is working on site with the rest of the support being delivered remotely and through cloud technology.

Another feature of the VentilatorChallengeUK has been a nationwide HoloLens glasses plea, with more than 250 being donated by academic, manufacturing and technology specialists across the UK. All of which arenow playing an essential role in a rapidly growing production line.

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