Airbus works with Microsoft to trial HoloLens in aircraft manufacturing

Aircraft company Airbus believes mixed reality systems, powered using headsets such as HoloLens, will drive its digital manufacturing strategy

Airbus has collaborated with Microsoft to test out how the technology company’s HoloLens 2 headset can be deployed in a mixed reality environment in training, design and manufacturing.

Mixed reality empowers employees to execute their jobs in the most efficient and ergonomic way possible, and this contributes directly to performance improvements, according to Barbara Bergmeier, who is head of operations at Airbus Defense and Space.

“By having the right information at the right time in hands-free mode, not only does quality increase, but also safety, and this is what we are looking for. Quality without consideration of the well-being of our workers is not possible,” she said.

HoloLens 2 is being used as part of a wider mixed reality system to help Airbus designers virtually test their designs to see if they are ready for manufacture.

The aircraft manufacturer said mixed reality also enables aerospace trainees to learn in an immersive virtual environment without the need for an actual physical aircraft or parts. It creates a 3D environment that enables users to view elements in three dimensions from any angle.

Jean-Brice Dumont, executive vice-president of engineering at Airbus, said mixed reality could help it increase quality, safety and security. “The level of human error is significantly reduced, and in aerospace, increased quality is increased safety – and needless to say, security goes with that,” he said.

According to Airbus, mixed reality technology can be deployed to help workers on the production line access crucial information while keeping their hands free. Digital information, such as instructions or diagrams, can be overlaid on a real piece of machinery to aid in complex or hard-to-reach tasks. It said that by using mixed reality technology on the production line, it was possible to cut manufacturing time by a third and improve quality.

Durant said the use of HoloLens 2 and mixed reality were key components in the company’s digitisation strategy. “This is really a way for us to lead our digital transformation. It’s multifold, but the use of mixed reality and HoloLens 2 is one of the key assets for Airbus in the future.”

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