Bringing connectivity the factory floor is a key challenge facing many manufactures. The challenging industrial environment traditionally creates a lot of noise and interference, which disrupts Wi-Fi signals. However, next generation Wi-Fi services are opening up new opportunities.
Using Augmented Reality on the Factory Floor
Concurrent Engineering is collaborating and supporting the Wi-Fi 6 project at Mettis Aerospace, by providing an IoT & AR platform to collect and display data from the factory floor.
The phase-one trial of Wi-Fi 6 infrastructure and services at the Mettis UK factory was recently completed. News of the successful trial was released by the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA), which is leading the development of next-generation Wi-Fi services.
The solution provided by Concurrent Engineering combines:
- ThingWorx – to collect and make sense of the data
- Kepware – industrial connectivity / data transfer protocol
- Vuforia Augmented Reality – to display data on the factory floor, via tablets, phones or headsets
Direct and speedy access to the data through the Wi-Fi 6 infrastructure enables faster, more accurate decision making – driving efficiencies in production.
PTC Vuforia was used by the maintenance team as part of the tria to enable “walk-by” machine monitoring and show if it was possible to position a tablet alongside a piece of machinery and get an instant reading of the real-time pressure and performance of the machine.
Testing the Wi-Fi Infrastructure
The Wi-Fi 6 technology had to prove it was able to provide total connectivity across the factory floor and enable improved synchronisation of factory-floor machinery and equipment with centralised monitoring and control systems. This required the Wi-Fi network to deliver real-time high-bandwidth communications, with very low latency and clear prioritisation of data across a large-scale, complex factory environment.
Tests included applications of 4K video streaming, large-scale file transfers, messaging and voice/video communications, as well as the first stage of internet of things (IoT) sensor and augmented reality testing. Previous implementation tests with Wi-Fi had failed to work in the Mettis factory environment, but during the latest trial, speeds of 700Mbps using 80MHz channels were achieved and low-latency applications, such as video calling and video streaming, performed well, with results below 6ms.
Find out more about the trial on the WBA website here.