David Grammer, general manager for the UK and Ireland at PTC, says the pandemic has forced manufacturers to ‘quickly find new ways to deliver services’. With that in mind, augmented reality ‘can be a real game changer when applied in the correct way’
➨ Manufacturing is facing a distinct need for digital transformation due to the pandemic
➨ Watson-Marlow will use the Vuforia Expert Capture, Studio and Chalk solutions to manage its own
➨ Those augmented reality solutions will serve training, remote assistance, and sales and marketing use cases
The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on manufacturing is driving organisations in that sector toward immersive technology solutions, as an expanded contract for industrial specialist PTC demonstrates.
Watson-Marlow Fluid Technology Group, a manufacturer of peristaltic pumps and associated fluid path technologies with multiple sites in the UK and more than 1,700 employees globally, invested in PTC augmented reality solutions after the pandemic “accelerated our need for digital transformation”, according to strategic business development director Martin Johnston.
Watson-Marlow will use the Vuforia Expert Capture, Studio and Chalk solutions to achieve several goals set to ensure operations continue seamlessly amid the pandemic.
The company finds itself juggling a softening of its industrial activity with increased demand from the healthcare industry, including new contracts to supply specialist pumps for use in feeding the fermentation tanks used to produce potential Covid-19 vaccines.
Johnston says: “We have been working with PTC for more than five years now, globally through its product lifecycle management tool Windchill and, in the UK, through Creo, a suite of computer aided design apps.”
“The pandemic has changed the way every manufacturing business operates and, in my opinion, has accelerated our need for digital transformation by two to three years. AR is something we had discussed, but it wasn’t until the pandemic struck that we decided to press the button quicker and engage with PTC to explore how to do it.”
Watson-Marlow identified skills transfer as its “immediate priority”. The pandemic has limited travel and gatherings, so the company needed a solution for replicating engineer expertise at the new manufacturing locations necessary to meet demand from the healthcare industry without staff visiting in-person.
For this use case, Vuforia Expert Capture and wearables such as Microsoft HoloLens will enable Watson-Marlow to record production line processes, share via the cloud and then deliver that knowledge to new engineers.
The manufacturer plans to use Vuforia Expert Capture to produce permanent training manuals and train the next generation of graduates and apprentices.
“The benefits will be huge if we can get this right,” Johnston comments. “Speed of set-up will be dramatically improved, we will see significant cost reductions as staff aren’t travelling and we will gain the ability to train employees to perform out-of-core roles for a period of time—all whilst eliminating the risk of spreading the virus among our employees.”
Sales and marketing
Vuforia Chalk, meanwhile, will be used for remote service and maintenance, while Vuforia Studio will serve sales and marketing at Watson-Marlow during and after the pandemic, as the manufacturer looks to grow and attract new customers.
Johnston explains: “Sales and marketing will be the final focus. In normal times, we would be attending over 100 exhibitions all over the world every year, but this has now been reduced to just a handful, which means we need to find a new way of talking to potential customers.”
“This could be through webinars, virtual shows, or even demonstrating our product capability by playing it out in real time through AR. Vuforia Studio will support us with endless opportunities.”
David Grammer, general manager for the UK and Ireland at PTC, says the pandemic has forced manufacturers to “quickly find new ways to deliver services”. With that in mind, augmented reality “can be a real game changer when applied in the correct way”.
He continues: “Watson-Marlow approached us with a clear idea of what they wanted to accomplish, and our experts developed an integration plan that will see Vuforia Expert Capture, Vuforia Studio and Vuforia Chalk play an important role in its UK and overseas businesses.
“I have every confidence the firm’s digital transformation plan will deliver a host of operational, cost and safety benefits.”
Images: Watson-Marlow Fluid Technology Group