Working at Volkswagen's main plant is about to get a bit easier – or at least a bit less prone to error. That's because the German automaker is implementing the use of 3D smart glasses at its Wolfsburg facility to project key information in the worker's field of vision, including part numbers and where they can be found. They also feature touch- and voice-control capabilities for ease of operation, and a camera that automatically reads bar codes. Pick up the right part and scan it, and it lights up green. Scan the wrong part and it illuminates in red.

The devices have already undergone a three-month pilot program, and are now being rolled out for logistics. Currently VW says that 30 workers are already using the smart glasses in areas ranging from windshields to driveshafts. Using them will be voluntary, at least at first, and union reps say they are eagerly watching to see how the devices will be integrated into the workflow. Assuming they work as designed, it's easy to imagine the goggles being used in a wide array of production applications.

The Wolfsburg site is the Volkswagen Group's largest and oldest plant. It opened in 1938, covers an area of two square miles, and incorporates some 60,000 employees. The factory currently handles production of the Golf hatchback, Tiguan crossover, and Touran minivan.

Volkswagen isn't the first automaker to toy with this technology. BMW has experimented with similar devices in a quality-assurance pilot project at its plant in Spartanburg, SC, where it assembles the X3, X4, X5, and X6 crossovers. Volvo's new partnership with Microsoft could also potentially see implementation of the software giant's HoloLens technology in production as well. According to the New Equipment Digest, the devices stand to see widespread use in the manufacturing sector – particularly in the automotive and aerospace industries.

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Volkswagen rolls out 3D smart glasses as standard equipment

- Launch following successful pilot project with Wolfsburg plant logistics
- Roll-out in the area of order picking

Standard picking process with the 3D smart glasses at the Wolfsburg plant Standard picking process with the 3D smart glasses at the Wolfsburg plant

At Volkswagen\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s Wolfsburg plant, the roll-out of 3D smart glasses as standard equipment has now started following a three-month pilot phase. Plant logistics personnel are to use these glasses for order picking. The objective is to further improve process security in production.

The benefits of 3D smart glasses are evident: users automatically receive all the information they need such as storage locations or part numbers directly in their field of vision. Touch or voice control allows extremely easy operation. As a general principle, users have both their hands free while they are working. The camera in the glasses is also used as a barcode reader. Correct barcodes on parts removed from the storage location are shown in green while parts incorrectly removed are shown in red.

Reinhard de Vries, Head of Plant Logistics at Wolfsburg, said: "Digitalization is becoming increasingly important in production. The 3D smart glasses take cooperation between humans and systems to a new level."

The use of the 3D glasses is voluntary and the employees concerned are gradually being introduced to the new technology. After a short acclimatization period, new employees can then be familiarized more rapidly. Currently, 30 employees in various areas such as windshields or driveshafts are working with the smart glasses. In view of the positive experience obtained, other departments, plants and brands also plan to use the glasses.

Works Council member Mario Kurznack-Bodner: "The benefits of new technology like the smart glasses can only be assessed effectively if we can check them out in normal production operation. The colleagues concerned approach the technology without any preconceived notions. Apart from health, safety and occupational medicine criteria, it is important to the Works Council that feedback from employees should be taken up and reflected in everyday work."


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