OPS Solutions Uses Augmented Reality to Boost Manufacturing Process
As the development of robots and other autonomous technologies continues to gather steam, you’ll be hearing a lot more about augmented reality, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence. In Rust Belt regions like Southeast Michigan, we’re beginning to see these nascent innovations intersect with the manufacturing sector, and the result is promising industrial tech.
OPS Solutions, the maker of Light Guide Systems, an augmented reality tool for use in the manufacturing process, says it’s growing so fast that it recently relocated from Novi, MI, to a 10,000-square-foot facility down the road in Wixom.
Paul Ryznar, CEO of OPS Solutions, says tax credits from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation helped make the expansion in Michigan possible; the company almost moved to Wisconsin, where its lead investor, Capital Midwest Fund, is located. He says the new space will give his engineers an ample, custom-built place to create new features and demonstrate Light Guide Systems’ various manufacturing applications.
Traditionally, when factory workers on the line are assembling a product such as a car, there are printed instructions along the way to tell them what to do. But having to repeatedly look at those instructions can lead to errors and inefficiencies, Ryznar says.
Light Guide Systems, a proprietary software and projection process, aims to improve operations by beaming a digital “canvas” directly onto any work surface and providing audio and visual prompts, pacing, and guidance, he adds.
“Light Guide Systems is designed to combine human intelligence and technology in a way that’s never been done,” he explains. “I’ve been in manufacturing for 30 years, and I’ve spent a lot of time at factories all over the world. No matter where, there are always limitations in looking at hard copy instructions for making a product.”
According to Ryznar, workers are more likely to follow those instructions if they’re right in front of them and easily accessible. He uses GPS technology as an analogy: Before we all had GPS capabilities in our cars and smartphones, we had to rely on paper maps and street signs.
“Back then [before the widespread availability of GPS], you likely made a lot of wrong turns,” he says. “GPS gives you the right information at the right place and time. Light Guide Systems can transform manufacturing like GPS transformed cars.”
OPS Solutions launched in 2005 and has 22 employees. Because it involves “following lights instead of pages of instructions,” Ryznar says Light Guide Systems is a “great international product.” So far, the tool has been used at plants in 11 different countries, he says.
In 2017, Ryznar says OPS Solutions plans to expand its presence globally and further explore verticals like medical manufacturing, which has stringent quality-control standards.
“In the case of medical, we have the potential to save lives as well as time and money,” he says. “The right information at the right place and time makes a complex process much simpler.”