A team of researchers and engineers at the Ericsson factory in Tallinn, Estonia, have made troubleshooting electronic boards easier with the use of augmented reality.
Augmented reality troubleshooting, or ART as it is referred to by the team, is a tool designed to facilitate quick and easy learning as well as information sharing in the repair and maintenance area. Its main purpose is simple – to remove the need for Word documents with instructions due to the high workload required to create, edit and update those documents and train technicians.
With ART, performing a visual inspection of the electronic board and testing or repairing components becomes faster as it gives the troubleshooter a “hands-free” experience and removes the need to switch focus between the document and the circuit board.
Tests conducted by the team at the Tallinn site showed how much time it would take troubleshooters to perform certain activities at detailed levels.
Mihkel Tedremaa, Product Technology Manager, says: “We found out that while working on a faulty unit, roughly half of a technician’s time goes to non-value add activities such as finding and linking schematics with layout files, fault info and troubleshooting instructions.”
By using an augmented reality solution and an Android tablet or HoloLens, the troubleshooter can find the fault more quickly thanks to the extra layer of digital information that is added to the real-world image. This frees up time for solving the issue and sharing the data faster between production sites.
“If, for example, our engineers solve a very tricky issue this information could immediately reach our sites in China,” Tedremaa says.
“The just-in-time fault-finding data, combined with better ergonomics and faster information sharing, can boost productivity by 50 percent,” he adds.
So far, ART is being implemented in 2 out of 8 workplaces in Tallinn. But plans are already underway to expand its use to other Ericsson sites such as the one in Nanjing, China. Fault data and troubleshooting instructions are also being added to the system so the solution can be applied to other products.
While ART is not in full usage yet, the Tallinn team can already see its benefits especially in teaching new engineers about the products. “Augmented reality troubleshooting is an incredibly simple solution for understanding functional parts of products and to share information between teams and sites,” Tedremaa says