Setting the scene
Visual inspection (VT) is the most common quality control method across many industries. Within aerospace manufacturing, aircraft overhaul, shipbuilding, and civil engineering, VT cannot be entirely automated and operators are required. Dealing with large parts or complex defects requires expert judgment and cooperation between sites and engineering teams.
Imagine ending the delay between the inspection, engineering disposition, and finished product. Spiral has discovered how Augmented Reality (AR) can dramatically improve the efficiency of VTs. By building a new digital layer around units to be inspected, AR increases both the speed and accuracy of quality inspections. We are excited to make use of and expand the application of AR beyond training and remote assistance.
How it works
As an example, let’s imagine a quality operator named Jason, who is performing an inspection of a composite panel (e.g., an aircraft wing) after it has been cured. He spots a wrinkle that appears outside the boundaries of the inspection area, close to the tip of the wing. A traditional way to report this would be to prepare a discrepancy report and email it to his company’s engineers.
Instead, Jason could register the defect in augmented reality. After putting on the AR headset, he would enter a virtual, holographic interface. There he could create a virtual marker, place it on the wrinkle, and resize its dimensions by hand. The position of the marker (and therefore the defect) would be saved on the digital model of the wing automatically. We call this Spatial Reporting.
A quality record would be created with no paper involved, and a repair alert would be immediately sent to engineers. In addition, he could take photos of the wrinkle from different angles, and then select the defect type from a menu in the interface.
What are the benefits?
Establishing the exact location of any defect is vital. Factories handle hundreds of parts every week, where the number of defects can range from a few up to a hundred.
When non-conformances of parts are misrecorded, engineering dispositions are delayed, resolution statuses are unclear, and quality suffers. The use of paper records also reduces transparency further and makes trend analysis impossible.
Determining the precise locations of defects removes ambiguity from the repair process. Virtual markers and photos of defects taken using AR can be displayed immediately to an engineering support team. This accelerates engineering dispositions and improves coordination between teams. A senior management team can have a completely transparent view of a resolution status through a clear repair process.
Why Spatial Reporting is so powerful
An AR headset is spatially aware: the moment you turn it on, it detects its precise location in space. Virtual markers also have this capability. The virtual marker that Jason could drop onto a wrinkle would have precise coordinates (x, y, z) within a shop floor to enable allow to map it precisely on a 3D model of a wing.
An AR headset allows you to interact with digital information contextually. Mechanics can receive individualized prompts from their AR headset depending on where they are in relation to an aircraft during an inspection or repair. This reduces decision-making time and accelerates the performance of a procedure.
Finally, virtual markers are persistent, so any mechanics taking over work on a previous session can access markers created by another crew. This facilitates efficient handovers between different crews, which is especially relevant for complex repairs and overhauls.
Imagine equipping your quality and engineering personnel with a tool that increases speed and eliminates uncertainty within the repair process. Spatial Reporting does exactly that. Virtual markers link physical defects to digital defect reports. This enables the creation of complete, accurate, and high-quality records, conducting real-time digital dispositions, and a holistic map displaying the status of each part.
For improved tracking and resolution across parts and products, virtual markers can effectively link physical defects to digital defect reports.