28 October 2020
Aixtron participating in AdaptAR project
Deposition equipment maker Aixtron SE of Herzogenrath, near Aachen, Germany says that it intends to take advantage of the opportunities offered by digitization to further optimize the production and continuous updating of machine and technical equipment manuals, especially (assembly) instructions. The firm is hence participating in research into possible applications of augmented reality (AR) in product documentation for customers.
Under the leadership of the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology (IPT), 11 project partners plus Aixtron (as an associated partner) are developing an augmented reality system with digital twin as the data basis within the AdaptAR research project. The three-year project AdaptAR is funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in the program ‘Innovations for tomorrow’s production, services and work’ (funding code 02K18D070).
AR and Digital Twin
“Specific, always up-to-date and user-friendly technical documentation is indispensable for the successful operation of high-tech equipment,” says Thomas Leipold, project manager Digitalization, at Aixtron. “We want to make even more consistent use of the opportunities offered by digitization for further development in this area for our customers by contributing our know-how and experience to this Fraunhofer IPT research project,” he adds. “We, as users, want to use the project results to lay the foundation for system documentation that even extends over the entire life cycle of a system.”
With AdaptAR new ground is broken in product documentation. Augmented reality offers an interactive representation of the real environment in which, for example, a system in a factory is supplemented by computer-generated information and enriched with auditory and visual information of the processes. Every product in the factory is given a so-called Digital Twin, or digital shadow.
This virtual image of a system, for example, is to contain all the associated job, product, process and resource data in a local database. The Digital Twin is to be continuously enriched with additional data from connected IT systems while the system is in use. This connection will optimize decision making and knowledge management. For the complete synchronization of the virtual world (Digital Twin) and the real world, the data must be continuously collected, stored and processed.
Aixtron expects that a solution combining AR and Digital Twin will make it easier and more intelligent to create, use and maintain technical manuals than before. The possible visualization also allows a better understanding of complex processes. The AR-supported technology is to be linked with a remote service offering.
An externally called-in expert can solve tasks together with the customer. User-friendliness can hence be further improved and time and effort significantly reduced. According to Fraunhofer IPT, savings of up to 70% in the time and effort required to create technical instructions are estimated.
“The continuous updating of the information in the database gives us the opportunity to ensure that the system is always up to date and contains all relevant product data, throughout the entire product life-cycle,” says Aixtron’s Thomas Leipold. “Our vision is that the customer can then call up instructions for solving a task directly on site using a smart device such as a tablet or smart glasses and receive guidance from external specialists via a remote service,” he adds. The firm is already taking a first step in this direction.
Aixtron says that it is leveraging the benefits of digitalization for its customers by using remote services via smart glasses in close cooperation with first clients.