Augmented Reality At Your Fingertip

Old hat in science fiction novels and films but excitingly new in the working world: Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are now also gaining an increasing foothold in industrial work processes. In contrast to Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality offers users additional information in real time over and above what they actually perceive. This thus allows the real world to be combined with the virtual world and real spatial worlds to be supplemented by virtual elements and data. Some companies are already using Augmented Reality today as a core technology for enriching and complementing reality with computer-generated contents.

The level of work required was reduced by almost 50 percent.

This way of perceiving reality allows innovative procedures and methods to be implemented for optimizing production, maintenance and inspection processes. Lufthansa Technik is also already strategically using the opportunities afforded by Augmented Reality. For example, the high level of effort required for installation in case of primary structural connections in VIP completion projects can be reduced by using laser-based installation templates. Manual, mechanical measurement and alignment tools were used exclusively to date for installing primary structural connections in the framework of initial completion of VIP aircraft. This resulted in significant effort for calibrating installation positions as well as longer set-up times.

Lufthansa Technik has now introduced a laser-based AR system for supporting installation in the VIP & Special Mission Aircraft Services business unit as part of the “Projection-based Installation Support” project. The mobile projection system can be positioned and aligned flexibly in the aircraft fuselage in line with the respective installation situation. The installation template is projected onto the work environment for the relevant structural employee in line with the employee’s current job card. This template corresponds to the component contours selected in the virtual 3D model, which are projected onto the structure in the correct position and therefore act as a positioning and alignment aid for the component that is being installed. With no interruptions or other interactions, the employee can install the component with high precision and significantly more efficiently than using conventional alignment tools.

The technical implementation of the laser projection system was demonstrated in the first completed project phase both on a mock-up of the training workshop and in practice on three complete layovers – a result of the excellent inter-disciplinary cooperation between engineering, dock and IT. Not only was the precision significantly increased when installing primary structural connections (T-Rails), but the level of work required was reduced by almost 50 percent. Lufthansa Technik is currently testing additional applications of projection-based Augmented Reality, for example in the form of foiling and painting templates. The use of future digital assistance systems for other departments is also being examined at present for use in a larger-scale innovation project. The preparations for the project are already underway.

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