Facing New Realities

Augmented reality could reinvent manufacturing processes, employee training

The technology behind last summer’s Pokémon Go craze is getting serious. Augmented reality (AR)—overlaying computer-generated graphics onto reality—is transitioning from a kids’ game to military and industrial applications, such as helping Lockheed Martin engineers assemble F-35 aircraft or allowing factory-floor workers to see 3-D blueprints overlaid as holograms on machines they’re repairing.

As this new technology becomes more affordable and mainstream, it has the potential to create factory-floor efficiencies and employee training programs that were previously considered the stuff of science fiction.

From fiction to reality

According to Forrester Research Inc., by 2025 nearly 15 million U.S. workers will use smart glasses, such as Google Glass and Microsoft’s HoloLens, which is an increase of 400,000 users from 2016. Forrester also estimates large organizations will spend $3.6 billion on smart glasses in 2025, up from $6 million in 2016.1

AR’s ability to provide visual representations of data or schematics on the factory floor could be a game changer. A maintenance worker who is examining a pressure valve, for example, could be wearing lenses that display the valve’s temperature and pressure as text that hovers above the part, said Mike Campbell, executive vice president of industrial software firm PTC’s Vuforia augmented reality segment.2

This concept just scratches the surface of AR’s potential applications, Campbell said. The lenses could overlay graphics that also show how a part’s pieces fit together, instructions for disassembling it and how it could connect to different machines.3 Several organizations already are using AR in this way.

AGCO Corp., a Minnesota agricultural equipment manufacturer, has equipped some of its employees with Google Glass, which shows diagrams and instructions to help them perform quality checks on tractors. This method has made their quality checks 20% faster.4

Boeing is trying a pilot program in which Google Glass helps mechanics wire airplanes’ complex electrical systems. Instead of trying to follow paper or laptop instructions, mechanics’ Google Glass headsets show them wire placement diagrams and instructions. So far, the pilot program has reduced production time 25% and errors have been reduced to zero.5

AR’s benefits also extend to data analysis. Holograms are useful for visualizing data because they engage the spatial awareness part of the brain that allows humans to understand complex concepts more quickly and promotes greater retention, according to Brian Mullins, co-founder and CEO of Daqri, a maker of augmented reality smart helmets.6

"In cases where you have to react with very complex amounts of information, it can tell a much better story than just a bar graph," Mullins said.7

IoT meets AR

Incorporating the Internet of Things (IoT) with AR could add yet another level of possibilities to how manufacturers could use the technology. Many factories are using IoT machines and devices to create a connected environment that sends large amounts of data, such as power consumption, operating status or dates the machines or devices were last serviced. Campbell said using IoT alone, however, lacks context and that AR can contextualize IoT data.8

"Getting that data is not as hard these days as making sense out of it for the people that need it to make decisions," said Peggy Gulick, director of business-process improvement at AGCO Corp.9

For example, an employee wearing AR gear could view any IoT-enabled machine and receive visual cues about whether it’s experiencing any problems and where an issue is occurring without even opening the machine for repairs. Experts believe this would not only save organizations time and labor, but service technicians could use AR to determine whether a faulty part is salvageable or should be replaced.10

"One of the big things that IoT is changing is that people will not need to interact only with other people, but also with machine and devices," said Luigi De Bernardini, CEO of manufacturing software provider Autoware. "The more intelligent machines are, the more users will need to interact with them, and the more they will expect to do it in a natural way."11

Training advantages

Bernardini said he sees AR as a solution to a major concern most manufactures face: the aging workforce. As experienced employees leave the workforce, new ones will struggle to gain their predecessors’ levels of knowledge.

A more experienced engineer, for example, equipped with an AR headset with a camera, could record his or her maintenance or troubleshooting approach on a piece of equipment, and a newer engineer could later use the video for training.12

"Augmented reality could be a very effective way in delivering the knowledge in the right place at the right time," Bernardini said. "Seeing something is much more effective than reading about it or listening to it."13

AR has allowed Lockheed Martin to skip years of training that were previously required for employees building its F-35 aircraft. Using AR glasses equipped with cameras and sensors, engineers can see renderings overlaid onto their working environments that show them how to assemble components. After implementing this method, engineers increased their accuracy 96% while working 30% faster.14

In healthcare, AR could be used in operating theaters to improve surgeon training—typically an expensive and difficult process—and reduce mistakes in complicated procedures. Last month, Touch Surgery, a developer of surgical training applications, unveiled an AR application that allows surgeons wearing AR headgear to practice surgeries on digital patients in immersive, virtual reality environments.15

The application also can be used in live procedures to create an overlay on patients to help guide surgeons. Some experts, however, worry this type of technology could leave patients questioning surgeons’ competency if they’re being walked through surgeries by their glasses.16  

Looking ahead

Some industry experts said realizing AR’s full potential has a long way to go. Most of the technology that will make future AR experiences impactful has yet to be created, and it also will require connected services and applications that have yet to be conceived.

Many companies are still tackling how wearable AR devices can more effectively capture human interactions without a keyboard, mouse or touchscreen, and how their cameras can capture subtle hand and finger movements used to manipulate digital images or data. Ensuring long-lasting battery life for AR devices is another hurdle tech companies are struggling to clear.17

Still, many experts agree that it’s a matter of when—not if—AR will significantly change industries and people’s lives.

"I believe that every walk of life and every human activity, which today is mediated by computers, will be transformed by AR," said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. "This is not happening tomorrow. It’s not happening next year. But that is the continuum we are on."18

Dan Arczynksi of Index AR Solutions, a developer of AR applications, said AR isn’t a technology that will just provide incremental, 2 to 5% percent savings. "It’s a game-changing application with measurable savings ranging from 25 to more than 90%," he said. "[This is because] when you augment people with AR, you’re not buying equipment: You’re freeing up cash flow because you’re speeding up processes."19

—compiled by Tyler Gaskill, assistant editor


  1. Sara Castellanos, "Augmented Reality, Hologram-Like Images Enter the Workplace," Wall Street Journal, Dec. 12, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/wsj-qp-augmented.
  2. Matt Weinberger, "Augmented Reality Is Going From ‘Pokémon Go’ to the Factory Floor," Business Insider, Oct. 25, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/bi-qp-augmented.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Castellanos, "Augmented Reality, Hologram-Like Images Enter the Workplace," see reference 1.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Weinberger, "Augmented Reality Is Going From ‘Pokémon Go’ to the Factory Floor," see reference 2.
  9. Castellanos, "Augmented Reality, Hologram-Like Images Enter the Workplace," see reference 1.
  10. K.R. Sanjiv, "How Augmented Reality Can Revolutionize Manufacturing," IndustryWeek, Sept. 29, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/iw-qp-reality.
  11. Luigi De Bernardini, "Augmented Reality Is Key for Smart Manufacturing," AutomationWorld, June 20, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/qp-luigi.
  12. Jeff Kerns, "Will Virtual Reality Replace the Desktop?" Machine Design, Jan. 10, 2017, http://tinyurl.com/qp-kerns.
  13. Ibid.
  14. Sanjiv, "How Augmented Reality Can Revolutionize Manufacturing," see reference 10.
  15. Ted Ranosa, "Doctors Can Now Practice Surgical Procedures Through Augmented Reality," Tech Times, Jan. 7, 2017, http://tinyurl.com/ar-surgery.
  16. Ibid.
  17. Tom Mainelli, "The Challenge and Opportunity of Augmented Reality," Recode, May 8, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/qp-recode.
  18. Gerard Baker, "Microsoft CEO Envisions a Whole New Reality," Wall Street Journal, Oct. 30, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/wsj-qp-new-reality.
  19. David Greenfield, "Augmented Reality for Industry," AutomationWorld, June 8, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/qp-automation-kc.

Who’s Who in Q

NAME: Lucita Kahn.

RESIDENCE: North Bergen, NJ.

EDUCATION: Master’s degrees in management and project management, both from the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne.

INTRODUCTION TO QUALITY: Kahn learned about quality during her first job as a quality improvement inspector and total quality management instructor in the U.S. Air Force Reserve.

PREVIOUS JOBS: Retired as a master sergeant in the U.S. Air Force Reserve after 25 years. Retired as a product quality manager at the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center after nearly 31 years.

ASQ ACTIVITIES: Involved in ASQ’s North Jersey Section as the past chair, performance awards and recognition chair, spring quality conference chair and an ASQ fellow mentor. Serves as ASQ North Jersey Section representative on the North East Quality Council (NEQC) and is a past NEQC secretary. Active member of technical community council and belongs to five divisions: quality management, audit, lean enterprise, innovation, and electronics and communication. Also an electronics and communication division (ECD) past secretary, treasurer and chair elect. Now serves as ECD chair.

OTHER ACTIVITIES: Volunteering and helping people with their public speaking skills through Toastmasters International.

RECENT HONORS: Elected to ASQ’s 2016 class of fellows. Received section chair appreciation award from the ASQ North Jersey section in 2016. Received the 2016 NEQC R. Shaw Goldthwait Award.

PUBLISHED WORKS: Several articles in U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force newsletters.

PERSONAL: Married; six children.

FAVORITE WAYS TO RELAX: Reading inspirational books and keeping up with quality news.

QUALITY QUOTE: Quality is everyone’s responsibility.

Short Runs

THE BALDRIGE PERFORMANCE Excellence Program released the 2017-2018 Baldrige Excellence Framework (Business/Nonprofit, Healthcare and Education) booklets. All three versions include the Baldrige criteria, core values and concepts, and guidelines for evaluating an organization’s processes and results. Baldrige Excellence Framework printed booklets costs $30. For more information, visit http://asq.org/2017baldrige.

THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY Action Group’s southern automotive quality summit will be held March 9 in Huntsville, AL. The one-day event will be the official roll-out of the new International Automotive Task Force 16949 standard to the supply base in the southeast United States. For updates on this event, visit http://bit.ly/SouthernAutoQuality2017.

A NEW RISK and regulatory services innovation center has been established by PricewaterhouseCoopers and Carnegie Mellon University to provide training to organizations and perform research on risk and compliance-related issues. The center also will address issues related to audit innovation, data analytics, information privacy and security. For more information, visit http://tinyurl.com/new-innovate-center.


Survey: Companies Staying
With Their Suppliers

While 83% of manufacturers say they have been adversely affected in the past by their suppliers’ inabilities to meet their needs, only one-third anticipate a shortage of parts or services this year, according to a recent ASQ survey.

ASQ’s 2017 Manufacturing Outlook Survey also shows that 66% of manufacturers expecting a problem with suppliers are working closely with providers to resolve issues, while 35% are working with their suppliers’ competition. Some manufacturers are stockpiling parts, while others are expanding operations to create the necessary parts themselves.

"Supply chain plays a critical role in manufacturing, and companies simply can’t risk being without the material they need to be successful," said Pat La Londe, past chair of ASQ’s board of directors. "Companies need to carefully consider multiple options when faced with a shortage of materials or with suppliers that can’t meet their needs."

More than 1,125 manufacturing professionals from around the world responded to ASQ’s 2017 Manufacturing Outlook Survey, which was conducted online in November and December. Respondents to the survey represented several industries such as aerospace, automotive, food and medical devices.

For more information from the survey, visit http://tinyurl.com/asq-outlook-survey.


Date in Quality History

QP looks back on a person or event that made a difference in the history of quality.

Feb. 23, 1947

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the world’s leading developer of international industry standards, was founded in Geneva on this date.

ISO was born from the union of two organizations—the International Federation of the National Standardizing Associations, established in 1926, and the United Nations Standards Coordinating Committee, established in 1944.

In October 1946, delegates from 25 countries, meeting at the Institute of Civil Engineers in London, decided to create a new international organization. Their objective was to "facilitate the international coordination and unification of industrial standards." The new organization, ISO, officially began operations four months later.

Today, ISO is a network of the national standards institutes of 157 countries, one member per country, with a central secretariat in Geneva that coordinates the system. Each country is represented by its own national body. The American National Standards Institute represents the United States.


ISO, www.iso.org/iso/about.htm.


ASQ Finalizes 2017 Board

ASQ has named its 2017 board of directors. They are:

  • Eric Hayler, chair, BMW Manufacturing.
  • Patricia La Londe, past chair, CareFusion (retired).
  • Elmer Corbin, chair-elect, IBM.
  • Francisco "Paco" Lopez, treasurer, Metalsa.
  • Sylvester "Bud" Newton Jr., section affairs council chair, Arconic.
  • Heather Crawford, technical communities council chair, Apollo Endosurgery.
  • Donald Brecken, Ferris State University.
  • Jim Creiman, Northrop Grumman Corp.
  • Ha C. Dao, Emerson Climate Technologies Inc.
  • David Levy, Boyce Technologies.
  • Austin S. Lin, Google.
  • Raul Molteni, Molteni Consulting.
  • Luis G. Morales, Daimler Trucks North America.
  • Mark Moyer, Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation.
  • Daniella A. Picciotti, Veridiam.
  • Barrie Simpson, Genentech Access Solutions.
  • Joann Sternke, Pewaukee (WI) School District.
  • Sunil Thawani, Quality Indeed Consulting.
  • John Vandenbemden, Q-Met-Tech.
  • Allen Wong, Abbott Laboratories.


Lean Six Sigma Event
to Be Held in Phoenix

ASQ’s Lean and Six Sigma Conference will be held Feb. 27-28 in Phoenix.

The theme of this year’s conference is "Leading the Culture of Excellence Through Lean and Six Sigma."

Focus areas at the two-day event include: lean and Six Sigma fundamentals; lessons learned—implementation of lean and Six Sigma; doing more with less; and tips and tricks—sustaining results.

Jacob Stoller is one of the keynote speakers who will appear at the event.

Stoller is an author, speaker and consultant who specializes in communication between experts and outsiders in areas such as lean management, IT, accounting and engineering.

He is also the author of The Lean CEO (McGraw-Hill Education, 2015).

To learn more about the conference or to register, visit http://asq.org/conferences/six-sigma.

Word to the Wise

To educate newcomers and refresh practitioners and professionals, QP occasionally features a quality term and definition each month:


The name of a Japanese management practice taken from the words sei, which means manufacturing, and ban, which means number. A seiban number is assigned to all parts, materials and purchase orders associated with a particular customer’s job, project or anything else. This enables a manufacturer to track everything related to a particular product, project or customer, and facilitates setting aside inventory for specific projects or priorities. That makes it an effective practice for project and build-to-order manufacturing.


  • "Quality Glossary," Quality Progress, June 2007, p. 56.


18 Members Included in ASQ 2017 Class of Fellows

The ASQ Board of Directors has named 18 fellows who join nearly 675 current fellows. The 2017 class includes:

  • Eric Alden, Xerox Corp., Canandaigua, NY.
  • David Dewayne Butler, TI Automotive, Auburn Hills, MI.
  • Rajeev Chadha, National Research Council of Canada,
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • Julie Furst-Bowe, Chippewa Valley Technical College,
    Eau Claire, WI.
  • Vinay Goyal, Abbott Laboratories, Fullerton, CA.
  • Michael Hamada, Los Alamos National Lab, Los Alamos, NM.
  • Bart Hamilton, consultant, Akron, OH.
  • Michael Kent Hart, consultant, Kanata, Ontario, Canada.
  • James Miller, Roche, Muncie, IN.
  • Mark Neal, Global Quality Systems, Prosper, TX.
  • Owen Ramsay, Lloyd’s Register Quality Assurance, Laurelton, NY.
  • Abbas Saghaei, Azad University, Tehran, Iran.
  • Donald Singer, GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals, Phoenixville, PA.
  • Nicholas Skovran, Quality Horizons LLC, Pittsburgh.
  • Jennifer Joy Stepniowski, Pro QC International, Tampa, FL.
  • Sandra Storli, Zimmer Biomet, Gurnee, IL.
  • William Taraszewski, Meda Pharmaceuticals, Decatur, IL.
  • Rajesh Kumar Tyagi, Telfer School of Management, University of Ottawa, Kirkland, Quebec, Canada.


Analysis Aims at Ways to Reduce Variation in Quality Measurements

The National Quality Forum (NQF) says its new report provides guidance on reducing unnecessary variation in healthcare quality measurements so measurements can be more uniform and have greater impact on improving care.

The recent analysis identified 1,367 quality measurements in use across 48 different state and regional programs in the United States.

Of these measurements, 509 were distinct. The remaining 800-plus measurements overlapped or had similar focus, with one or more variations in the specifications.

"Quality measurements are essential building blocks in large-scale public and private-payer efforts to reform the nation’s healthcare system. But slightly different versions of the same measure contribute to waste through reporting burden for providers and make performance comparisons more difficult," said Helen Darling, NQF’s interim president and CEO.

A 16-person expert panel developed a decision-logic framework to reduce measurement variation, with a focus on how best to improve the ability to compare and interpret measurements, while driving transparency and innovation and reducing burden.

For more from the study, visit http://tinyurl.com/nqf-measure-report.


ISO Auditing Standard
Undergoing Revisions

The International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO) popular standard for auditing management systems is under revision and has just reached the first voting stage.

ISO 19011—Guidelines for auditing management systems is currently being revised to reflect the growing number of management system standards (MSS) and the recent revisions of some of the most widely used ones, such as ISO 9001 for quality and ISO 14001 for the environment. It has just reached committee draft stage, meaning those countries involved in its revision have an opportunity to make comments on the draft.

"As organizations see the benefit and need for management systems, there has been an increase in the number of sector-specific standards to respond to the mandate," said Denise Robitaille, chair of ISO project committee 302, the ISO project committee responsible for the revision. "There are now MSSs that cover areas such as health and medical, environment, services, information technology and more. In addition, the two most popular MSSs—ISO 9001 and ISO 14001—have recently been updated, so the auditing of these systems needs to reflect the variety and number of standards being developed."

For more information and updates, visit the ISO website at http://tinyurl.com/iso-audit-stand.


ASQ Announces 2018
Board Candidates

ASQ has announced the candidates for the 2018 board of directors. This year, two candidates are vying for the office of the chair-elect. Here is the complete list of all candidates:

  • Past chair: Eric A. Hayler, lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt, BMW Manufacturing, and principal, Hayler Group, Boiling Springs, SC.
  • Chair: Elmer K. Corbin, director and project executive, IBM Watson Client Success, IBM Corp., McKinney, TX.
  • Chair-elect (through the ASQ Nominating Committee): Benito Flores, dean, school of engineering and Technologies, Universidad de Monterrey, San Pedro Garza Garcia, Mexico.
  • Chair-elect (through petition): Geoff Vining, professor of statistics, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA.
  • Treasurer: Francisco Santos, global quality, Metalsa, Apodaca, Mexico.
  • Director: Scott Moeller, director of quality engineering, Baxter International, Six Sigma Black Belt Round Lake, IL.
  • Director: Paulo Sampaio, professor of quality and organizational excellence, University of Minho in Portugal, and visiting scholar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA.

Election rules do not allow candidates to campaign or have others campaign for them, but proxies and position statements for each candidate running for a contested office will be sent to all regular members by Feb. 24. The results of the election will be announced on April 30, during ASQ’s annual business meeting, held in conjunction with ASQ’s World Conference on Quality and Improvement in Charlotte, NC.

Excellent article. Thank you.
--Mike Alumbaugh, 02-13-2017

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