Bringing Digitalisation and Augmented Reality to the Assembly Line: Konica Minolta Launches the AIRe Lens in Europe

With the AIRe Lens, Konica Minolta is launching a new wearable augmented reality (AR) solution in October 2018. This smart glasses device is set out to seize the benefits of digital processes at a stronghold of paper-based processes in industrial companies: assembly and maintenance guidance at the factory floor. The AIRe Lens is developed specifically for industrial applications. It offers the durability, comfort and high optical quality required for all day use in manufacturing contexts, where precision and safety are paramount. Thanks to this head-mounted solution, end users receive technical information and step-by-step guidance while maintaining mobility and keeping hands free, allowing for new processes to be more effective.

“While digitalisation is shaping and improving many processes in the industry, it often still stops with the workers at the assembly line. Their work processes are frequently paper-based and therefore inefficient. This has had practical reasons in the past: Workers need their hands free, particularly when assembling complex and bulky machinery,” explained Zdeněk Vrbka, Program Manager Smart Glasses at Konica Minolta’s Business Innovation Centre Europe, with regard to the requirements for this solution in the industry. Stationary or handheld devices are impractical for this. This is where Konica Minolta’s AIRe Lens comes in.

The solution is designed to guide industry operators step by step through work processes, such as assembly, maintenance or quality assurance tasks. It is an optical, head-mounted augmented reality device with a transparent display that can be controlled via simple gestures or the push of a button. It is built with an optimal combination of rugged design, low weight, ease of use and high optical quality. Powered by a hot swappable 7-hour battery, it supports a full working shift at the production facility. Implementing the solution delivers productivity enhancements, reduced training costs, improved quality through fewer mistakes, and a reduction of workplace accidents. The technology can also be utilised in more complex maintenance procedures. “The AIRe Lens is perfectly designed to support workers executing these tasks, streamlining production processes and significantly reducing the costs of training and supervision,” Vrbka elaborated.

In order to comprehensively meet its industry customers’ needs, Konica Minolta designed the software with a deep understanding of those requirements and tested the product’s application with partners such as Siemens Brno – with very positive results. “At the Siemens factory we were able to achieve results that went even beyond the client’s expectations. The time required was reduced by as much as 42 per cent and the necessity to have a supervisor overlook the process was reduced by 89 per cent,” Vrbka stated. Testing the AIRe Lens at the Siemens facility in Mülheim, Germany, for quality assurance applications, Julian Melsbach, Project Lead for Smart Glasses, was particularly impressed by the high level of flexibility workers have wearing this solution: “The feedback from the operators was very positive, not only with regard to the mobility and light weight of this solution, but also concerning the unhindered vision compared to other smart glasses solutions, thanks to the high transparency and position of the lens. Therefore, the device can be very well integrated into the employees PPE[1], which is why there is no impairment of occupational safety.”

The AIRe Lens is a unique Konica Minolta development. It is a collaborative creation of the company’s own Industrial Optical System Business Headquarters (IOH) in Japan that has designed the optical element at the core of this solution and Konica Minolta’s European Business Innovation Centre (BIC). The solution will be launched in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic in October 2018.

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About Konica Minolta Business Solutions Europe

Konica Minolta Business Solutions Europe GmbH, based in Langenhagen, Germany, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Konica Minolta Inc., Tokyo, Japan. Konica Minolta enables its clients to champion the digital era: with its unique imaging expertise and data processing capabilities, Konica Minolta creates relevant solutions for its customers and solves issues faced by society. As a provider of comprehensive IT services, Konica Minolta delivers consultancy and services to optimise business processes with workflow automation and implements solutions in the field of IT infrastructure and IT security as well as cloud environments. Konica Minolta was awarded the prestigious “Buyers Lab PaceSetter award for Smart Workplace Vision” from Keypoint Intelligence” as the only vendor in its industry thanks to its forward-looking vision of the future of work and investment in innovative technology.Being a strong partner for the production and industrial printing market, Konica Minolta offers business consulting, state-of-the-art technology and software and, in 2017, was the production printing market leader for the tenth consecutive year in Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa (InfoSource). The hardware portfolio covers light and mid production as well as industrial printing machines. Konica Minolta Marketing Services provides value added services that intelligently link print and digital marketing in an effective and efficient way. In the healthcare sector, Konica Minolta drives digitalisation of clinical workflows and offers a broad range of next-level diagnostic solutions. Through its Business Innovation Centre in London and four R&D laboratories in Europe, Konica Minolta brings innovation forward by collaborating with its customers as well as academic, industrial and entrepreneurial partners. Konica Minolta Business Solutions Europe is represented by subsidiaries and distributors in more than 80 countries in Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa. With almost 9,900 employees (as of April 2018), Konica Minolta Europe earned net sales of over EUR 2.37 billion in financial year 2017/18.

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