Growing complexity in assembly and maintenance of military assets combined with a shortage of skilled engineers is expected to drive the market for virtual reality/augmented reality products.
A report from Digi-Capital predicts that the market for virtual and augmented reality will be worth $120 billion by 2020.
According to Graham Grose, Vice President and Industry Director at the Aviation & Defense Business Unit at IFS, using remote guidance via a wearable or mobile device, engineer skills can be ‘augmented’ as more qualified technicians provide expertise from any location in the world. Virtual reality simulation can even speed the training process itself.
At the 2016 MRO Europe conference in Amsterdam, ICF International vice-president Jonathan Berger predicted virtual reality could shave one or two years off traditional maintenance engineer training programs.
When these AR and VR technologies are integrated with a supporting enterprise asset management or MRO solution, the maintenance operator can quickly report and complete repair jobs – getting mission-critical equipment back up and running as soon as possible, Grose says.
A one-to- many delivery of expertise from a central hub to remotely deployed engineers has the potential to drastically reduce training times, improve maintenance efficiency and bring huge cost savings.
XMReality, a Swedish firm, has been working on remote guidance in the field, enabling junior engineers involved in a repair to instantly contact experts back at base. The company has designed an augmented reality solution for the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) because of the increased efficiency the technology offered organizations in other industries.
Using remote guidance, a support technician can see the asset in real-time and guide the engineer through every step of the repair with augmented hands and tools – all without having to leave base.
With augmented reality maximizing engineer efficiency, defense forces will no longer have to watch the gap when it comes to maintenance resource shortage, Grose added.