Is This the Real Life? Is This Just Fantasy? AR Hits Manufacturing

Print This Post

Is This the Real Life? Is This Just Fantasy? AR Hits Manufacturing

Way back in December 1890, decades before it landed its first defense contracts, Newport News Shipbuilding delivered its maiden hull, a 90-foot tugboat affectionately named for the young daughter of a former Navy Secretary. Dorothy was delivered at a loss, well over budget. Big data might have helped to curb the overrun.

Augmented reality might have helped, too.

More than a century and a quarter later, NNS is on the front lines of manufacturers implementing augmented reality into any number of processes. The nautical leader, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries, started to explore AR in 2007 and introduced the burgeoning technology to its shipyard in 2011 as part of a larger digital effort, according to engineering manager Patrick Ryan.

The tipping point, Ryan said, was a large project, sustained over three months in 2012, that introduced “digital storyboarding, a kind of mobile (virtual reality) solution” that cut down on the need for the massive drawings used for reference throughout the yard: “When we bring in a new generation of shipbuilders, giving them a drawing that’s three feet wide, two feet tall and a foot thick is not how they’re going to want to go to work.” Of course, the digital storyboarding also demonstrated a 35% cost reduction in the construction of one craft over those three months, which helped spark the overall shift toward digital.

Read More >