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Wearable technology geared toward aerospace manufacturing provides instant access to critical information, improves quality and productivity, and helps increase collaboration, says Accenture. Using this hands-free technology also improves safety in complex assembly or maintenance activities.

Accenture demos wearable technology for improving manufacturing processes

There was plenty of chatter at Paris Air Show about the need to increase efficiencies throughout the life of an aircraft, from its design and build all the way to it potentially being retired, recycled, and re-used in the build of a new aircraft. On the latter point, Mike Sinnett, Vice President, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, spoke Monday on how Boeing is currently experimenting and in demos with taking scrap carbon fiber from the 787 manufacturing process and 3D printing it into new non-primary structure parts, such as fuel tank access doors.

Taking a little different route on efficiencies, Accenture took some time at the show to talk about how it recently delivered with Airbus a proof-of-concept, using wearable technology, to help Airbus operators reduce the complexity of assembling cabin seats and decrease the time required to complete the task.

According to Accenture, through these proof-of-concept smart glasses, “a manufacturing professional can use digitally enabled, industrial-grade smart glasses to improve the accuracy and reduce the time required to complete the cabin seat marking process.”

That is not to say that the glasses are limited to cabin seat marking, or even the aerospace industry, or even “manufacturing professionals,” as the glasses are expected to ultimately enable lesser skilled people to step up to jobs without having to read a training manual, instead relying on the data from the glasses in real time.

To go further with the seating example with this technology, using contextual marking instructions, the smart glasses—which essentially consist of a pair of safety glasses with a clip on the side that can be moved for focus, or to get it out of the way—display all required information for an operator to help mark the floor faster and reduce errors to zero. In addition, the eyewear technology, implemented by Accenture, also offers interactivity by granting the operator access to features including barcode scanning, data retrieval from the cloud, voice command, and augmented reality.

This method also proved to be especially critical for removing errors in the process. Overall, time spent per aircraft was divided by six and error rates reduced to zero, while improving overall ergonomics of installers.

For this proof of concept, Accenture says that it selected the most appropriate hardware, designed and implemented the full solution, and regularly integrated end user feedback to increase the on-the-job satisfaction.

The project was launched in January 2015. Completion of the first prototype was completed less than a month later. To accelerate the timeline, Airbus and Accenture worked in start-up mode, which enabled rapid iterations by both companies.

Currently, the technology is being industrialized for A330 cabin furnishing. The other Final Assembly Lines should quickly follow along with other Airbus divisions. Going forward, Accenture is looking to build on this proof of concept with Airbus by making it widely used in commercial aerospace and defense manufacturing.

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