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How VR glasses can help on the shop floor

SLEM's Augmented and Mixed Reality working group is investigating how the virtual world can help the real world to make work on the shop floor at logistics companies easier and more uniform. The coordination of the technical research is in the hands of the GreenTechLab, a research department of Fontys Venlo University of Applied Sciences. 

The hololens at Herbalife

Two research projects are currently underway. The first project focuses on Herbalife Nutrition. The company, active in nutritional products, focuses on unifying and facilitating the packaging of products. The idea is to project an overlay of the customer order into a Hololens so the employee can see where all the products should be placed in the box. 
Research into how the Hololens works has now been completed. It is clear how programming with the Hololens works and in what way the Hololens can receive, process and visualize data. A graduate student from Fontys ICT has been working on the architecture and it is now clear how such an overlay can be made for the Hololens. The first result is a demo of an overlay based on dummy data. After this, tests must be conducted with actual orders in which the cubing algorithm (this calculates which type of box fits an order) is combined with the projected packing instructions. This will be started this fall.

Digital quality testing

The second research project is running at Broekman Logistics, distributor of excavators, among other things. The goal is standardization of custom-made modifications to new excavators using Augmented Reality. Mechanics can take images immediately after assemblies via an app on phone or tablet comparing the quality of the assembly with a digital example. This requires 2D images to be converted to 3D. The software then calculates whether the assembly was made within specifications or not. Initial tests have shown that the desired accuracy in particular is a challenge. Some assemblies require accuracies down to millimeters. It is also not yet clear how many image captures per scene must be made to achieve an accurate 3D image. Still this year, it should become clear whether the goal is achievable.

UM tests effects of techniques

Maastricht University's BISCI institute is investigating the effects of using these new techniques with employees on the shop floor. Think of the effect of wearing glasses such as the Hololens for long periods of time. Testing was done in the in-house lab by three master students and a coordinator, focusing on Herbalife's use case because no Hololens is used at Broekman. The focus was on the technology and wearing comfort of the Hololens, its performance and the feeling employees experience while using it. 
Following the research in the in-house BISCI lab, several field experiments were conducted at Herbalife. For this purpose, a brand new mini-warehouse called DEXLAB (Digital Experience Lab) was built with racks, trays and products. This lab provides the opportunity to conduct a range of user studies using different types of AR equipment including the Hololens. Results will be announced during the course of this year. 

WP5 Project Management

The current project management approach and structure provides the ability to manage for budget, on-time delivery and high-quality end products. The project has been extended until 9.6.2023 and the budget changes have been approved so that the project partners can achieve the intended results.

Partners Augmented and Mixed reality

Broekman Logistics (Born), Herbalife Nutrition (Venray) en Universiteit Maastricht.

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