Forge solutions: troubleshooting and training by experts using augmented reality



Today, forging businesses face significant labor challenges that can lead to excessive production downtime and reduced productivity.

These include the lack of skilled workers available at manufacturing sites, the huge knowledge/talent gap left by retiring workers, and the urgent need to mentor and develop young workers.

To effectively address these issues, it is necessary to capture irreplaceable expertise and knowledge. Then impart that knowledge through engaging, interactive training experiences that match the way today’s workforce prefers to learn.

As a solution, state-of-the-art augmented reality (AR) technology is now being used to provide expert step-by-step remote assistance and training on the forging press in minutes.

The new virtual tools allow forging equipment manufacturers to troubleshoot and provide problem-solving guidance to plant operations and service teams without physically meeting on-site.

The approach involves real-time video communications, so both parties see physical equipment simultaneously. AR tools also allow either party to make digital annotations on live images and video, view schematics, and share documents on smartphones, tablets, PCs, or headsets. AR.

Using AR technology, forge OEMs can speed up problem resolution by up to 90% and cut training time in half.

Augmented reality technology can provide expert step-by-step forging press troubleshooting and remote training in minutes, dramatically increasing uptime.Ajax, CECO and Erie Press (ACE)

Optimize production availability with augmented reality

Downtime is expensive, and if forge workers lack the knowledge and skills to quickly address challenges, those costs can quickly add up.

Traditionally, troubleshooting and repairing forging equipment production issues could take days while an expert traveled to provide hands-on assistance.

In addition to travel costs, this often meant that the most experienced OEM team members were not available to help others in a timely manner during the visit or en route to another facility.

As a result, while waiting for critical assistance, counterfeiters often found themselves operating below their production capacity or not at all.

Today, when a fabricator needs fast resolution to forging production issues, the operator can be guided to a solution using AR technology from North America’s largest forging equipment supplier: Ajax , CECO and Erie Press (ACE).

The companies, founded in the 1800s, offer a full line of products, including standard mechanical forging presses, upset forging machines, forging rolls, wire and bar pullers, solid die forgings, blanking presses, programmable die forges and custom designed hydraulic presses.

ACE (a Park Ohio company) now offers ACE Vision: “Expert Connect” and “Expert Guidance” (powered by PTC’s Vuforia AR suite).

Expert Connect connects forger staff to ACE technical experts through an immersive AR experience to accelerate issue resolution.

Expert Guidance provides forge operators and maintenance personnel with step-by-step immersive AR experiences to accelerate their productivity and learning.

Using AR technology from Ajax/CECO/Erie Press, forging OEMs can speed up problem resolution by up to 90% and cut training time in half.Using AR technology from Ajax/CECO/Erie Press, forging OEMs can speed up problem resolution by up to 90% and cut training time in half.Ajax, CECO and Erie Press (ACE)

Rapid and collaborative troubleshooting

In an innovative way, Expert Connect combines advanced AR collaboration tools with real-time video communications that are used to connect a forging company’s technician to an ACE expert so both can see and discuss the current situation.

Additionally, both can draw digital annotations on a mobile screen (tablet or smartphone) or desktop computer that accurately sticks to 3D physical objects in the real world. This allows the expert to guide a technician through a process, step by step.

As a result, experts and technicians spend less time resolving issues, increasing operational productivity and efficiency. Plus, this method offers faster resolution without the time and expense of expert travel or repeated technician visits.

An operator/maintenance technician can quickly initiate a resolution with an ACE Vision Expert Connect session, then begin communicating with a press expert who will walk them through troubleshooting – often within minutes, according to Bill Goodwin, vice president of Sales and Engineering, Ajax/CECO/Erie Press.

“If a forging machine is down, with a live motor [Expert Connect] session, the technical expert can see what the operator sees and guide him using annotations on his screen that remain fixed in three-dimensional space exactly where he is drawn. This speeds up problem resolution by up to 90% while helping overcome language barriers or issues with clear hearing, in an industrial production environment,” said Goodwin.

Forging OEM technical specialists turn forging press operating methodology into immersive step-by-step work instructions, which their employees can then follow using a wide range of AR headsets, tablets and mobile devices.Forging OEM technical specialists turn forging press operating methodology into immersive step-by-step work instructions, which their employees can then follow using a wide range of AR headsets, tablets and mobile devices.Ajax, CECO and Erie Press (ACE)

Immersive professional training, step by step

Productivity, efficiency and training of operators and maintenance employees is another critical element for the success of forging OEMs. In this regard, ACE Vision Expert Guidance is revolutionizing the way forge workers learn, reducing skill time by up to 50%.

With this approach, forging OEM technical specialists use an AR headset to capture the proper methodology for operating and maintaining a manufacturer’s forging press.

They then turn them into immersive, first-person, step-by-step work instructions. The forger’s employees can then follow through on these work instructions using a wide range of AR headsets, tablets, and mobile devices.

Today, this method is the fastest and easiest way to document and share years of expert employee knowledge with the entire workforce.

With Expert Guidance, ACE’s on-call experts capture step-by-step procedures and best practices as they work, then turn that information into reusable digital process documents, job aids, and training materials.

These can then be used to improve setup and changeover, streamline equipment assembly and maintenance, and modernize employee training with augmented reality-based digital work instructions.

Additionally, providing best practices from long-serving employees to the entire workforce in this way also helps ensure that procedures are performed in accordance with safety standards and regulations.

“The traditional methods manufacturers use to maintain an efficient workforce are no longer enough, and younger generations expect more engaging and immersive experiences,” Goodwin added. “So manufacturers are increasingly partnering with forging OEMs that use interactive AR technology.”

Goodwin notes that ACE provides standard digitized training and maintenance instructions using Expert Guidance with the equipment and can easily customize the instructions if a manufacturer needs anything beyond the standard.

While manufacturers have often relied on expert in-person troubleshooting and training on OEM forging presses, augmented reality technology offers a much faster and more cost-effective option.

Those who leverage remote, interactive, augmented reality-based troubleshooting and training in partnership with OEMs and software vendors will maximize their production uptime and operator readiness.

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