The Use Cases for the Microsoft HoloLens

The Use Cases for the Microsoft HoloLens

As augmented reality continues to take off, manufacturers have an incredible opportunity to realize growth through increased efficiency, reduced costs, and more integrated processes. Below are six use cases for the Microsoft HoloLens, Microsoft’s flagship AR headset, in industry to realize these growth opportunities.

  1. Integrating Design and Manufacturing: This comes from the ease of collaborating in the design process using shareable, life-sized, interactive 3D models generated from the HoloLens. These models allow for real time adjustments to be made by both manufacturers and designers as issues arise. According to ThyssenKrupp, utilizing this technology they can put out products four times faster than without it.
  2. Training Manufacturing Workers: Using the HoloLens for training on the processes involved in manufacturing and the servicing of complex equipment allows for the trainees to interact with a 3D simulation (as opposed to a 2D video) giving them more hands on experience and better knowledge of the machines or components they are working on or with.
  3. Complex Assembly: In complex assembly processes manuals often have to be utilized which in turn leads to inefficiencies in the process. With the HoloLens, step by step instructions can be overlaid onto the complex assembly so that employees never have to reach for an instruction manual or look to a display monitor again. All the information can be displayed right there in their line of sight.
  4. Servicing and Maintenance: There are several ways in which the HoloLens can improve servicing and maintenance operations at a plant. They can triage requests ahead of a visit to ensure they know what the problem is and what to do and, similar to with complex assembly, they can you 3D models in real time reference while they are searching for or fixing the problem. Also, because the HoloLens has a live-feed Skype like capability, you can remote in subject matter experts from different plants or facilities to help address an issue you are having.
  5. Complex Sales: When it comes to selling very large or complex solutions it is often helpful for your customer to be able to visualize the product. Enter the HoloLens, which allows you to bring a virtual 3D copy of your solution to the customer allowing them to better understand the product and se its potential. This in turn can help you close that big sale.
  6. Executive Oversight and Data Visualization: The uses of the HoloLens are not limited to line workers and maintenance staff. Executives can use the HoloLens for data visualization. It is essentially a portable live “war room” for your business that allows you to look at operations with live and YTD data. You can overlay statistics and KPI’s onto a 3D model of a facility to get the bigger picture of how operations are or have those statistics displayed on walls around your conference room constantly updating. The HoloLens makes showing data easier, more comprehensible, and more eco-friendly as you will not have to print off lots of reports anymore.

Utilizing the HoloLens in these ways will allow manufacturer to realize some great opportunities for improvement.



  1. What other use cases for the HoloLens can you think of to improve your operations?
  2. What other AR headsets are out there that can accomplish the same thing as the HoloLens? Is there one that can do more?
  3. How will continued integration of AR into our manufacturing operations change the way manufacturing is done? Will it have an impact outside of manufacturing as well?



Manufacturing at the Speed of Light

Manufacturers are always looking for new ways to make their operations more efficient. One innovative new solution to do this might be using light manufacturing techniques. Light manufacturing techniques are useful for very small objects (think microns or nano-meters in length), which makes them excellent for the electronic industry where people are demanding smaller and smaller electrical components. As the demand for smaller electrical components increases, the cost of manufacturing these components also increases as the precision required by existing machines increases. There are two methods currently being used or researched that could make the process of manufacturing electrical components faster and, more importantly, less expensive.

The first technique is called “optoelectronic tweezers”. This method use optical traps (light) to move small objects into place and assemble the component in liquid and then freeze dries the liquid to allow the manufactured component to be removed. According to the article “New Approach Uses Light Instead of Robots to Assemble Electronic Components” this method could reduce the cost and improve the efficiency of making circuit boards and other small electronic devices. One of the benefits of this method is that it allows for massive parallel assembly meaning you could assembly multiple components at the same time, which improves the time it takes to manufacture bulk shipments of components.

The second technique, called “intense pulsed light sintering”, uses high-energy light to fuse nano-materials in a matter of seconds. The benefit compared to using lasers which accomplish the same thing is that the area of effect is nearly 7,000 times greater in the intense pulsed light sintering method than the typical laser method. The other benefit to this method over the existing pulsed light fusion technique is that it does not require as high a temperature to perform. Pulsed light fusion requires temperatures up to 250 degrees Celsius whereas this new method only requires temperatures up to 150 degrees Celsius. According to the article “Faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing”, engineers at Rutgers are currently developing this method for use in the manufacturing of thin films.



  1. When will these methods be available for manufacturers to start implementing into their processes?
  2. What other areas besides circuit boards and thin films could this technology be used in?
  3. How big of a bottom line impact could this technology have for manufacturers making these electronic components?




How Bunnies Are Solving the World’s Pollution Problems and More

A new start-up, LanzaTech, believes they have developed a way to reduce pollution, increase food production, make gas for cars and fuel for planes cheaper, and potentially provide a more cost effective and eco-friendly source for plastics used in many mass-manufactured products today. Their solution: rabbits. Well, specifically a special bacteria found within the stomachs of a rabbit which has the ability to take carbon emissions from factories and turn it into ethanol. This method could reduce the need to make corn-based ethanol, freeing up more land for food production, and increase the amount of ethanol that we can put in gasoline and jet fuel. According to the article “This start-up turns pollution from factories into fuel that powers cars – and on day planes” by Catherin Clifford, the founder of Virgin Atlantic, an airline company, believes this technology will reduce the reliance of airliners on oil. While it is good that we can reduce pollution from factories by recycling it and cutting our reliance on big oil, the real kicker is that it can be done cheaply. According to the article, tests of airline fuel using ethanol from this method of production have reduced the carbon footprint (when compared to current jet fuel) by 70% and at a cost such that they can sell it at the level of the “lowest current alternative to jet fuel available today”. Eventually, the company hopes to expand and use the same bacteria to create polyethylene which is used in most plastic products today.


This technology could have major ramifications on factories and manufacturers if it becomes mainstream, mostly because it would require great coordination with these companies as it is their emissions that LanzaTech would need to harvest in order to make their new fuel. But, if companies agree to this, it will help manufacturers reduce their carbon emissions making it easier for them to comply with environmental standards, potentially provide a new source of revenue for them in the form of selling carbon emissions, and ultimately help reduce shipping costs if the price of jet fuel is really able to drop as much as this company is predicting. All thanks to a bacteria found in the gut of a bunny.


For more information on LanzaTech go to this website:



  1. How many manufacturers would need to begin using this tech to make a significant impact on the pollution numbers we see today?
  2. How would reducing the need for corn-based ethanol impact the food industry?
  3. What impact does this have on the oil industry? Will it really reduce our reliance on Big Oil?




Filling the Worker Gap for Manufacturing Careers

A lot of people talk about how new technological advancements in automation, 3D printing, and AI are going to improve manufacturing but lead to a new kind of worker being required to fill manufacturing jobs. However, few people address where this “new kind of worker” is going to come from. According to the article “For the Manufacturing Industry, School is in Session” by Adina Solomon, there is an expected need for 3.5 million manufacturing workers in 2025 but only 1.5 million of those jobs are projected to be filled because of an anticipated proficiency gap in the labor market of about 2 million jobs. Below are examples of how two groups of people are working today to try and address this problem and prepare the next generation to fill these new manufacturing roles that are much different from those of the past.

In Indiana, Seymour High School has started a business called OWL Manufacturing (based on the school’s mascot) which is run by students at the school. Students working at the business elect to take this as a course and spend their time working in a manufacturing environment for school credit. The purpose of the business was to give students a hands-on learning environment where they can learn about how the manufacturing jobs of today are different from the days of their parents, teach them valuable skills to be used in a manufacturing role, and build excitement for a career in manufacturing. Since its launch in 2016, they have gone from 17 to 43 students working in all sorts of roles and many of the graduates who went through this program either went straight into a manufacturing role or are attending secondary schooling with the intent of getting a career in manufacturing. While this program is currently unique to the state it would not be surprising to see more pop-up. This is because the Governor of Indiana, Eric Holcomb, signed an executive order in 2017 to create the Office of Work-Based Learning and Apprenticeship whose goal is to help support and create programs like OWL Manufacturing to educate and raise interest for the manufacturing jobs of the future.

More information on OWL Manufacturing can be found here:

More information on the Office of Work-Based Learning and Apprenticeship can be found here:

In North Carolina, businesses have been stepping up to the plate instead of schools. A consortium of companies from the state have come together to form the Guilford Apprenticeship Partners (GAP). The goal of GAP is to recruit high school students into an apprenticeship while they are in high school and then, once the students graduate, provide them tuition at a local two-year college where they can get their associates degree while working full-time in a manufacturing environment. Throughout the entire four year program the student works in a manufacturing environment giving them hands-on experience in the career for which they are getting an education to pursue. The other primary purpose of GAP is to educate current students and their parents about how jobs in manufacturing are changing in order to counteract some of the stereotypes that manufacturing jobs are “dirty and physically difficult”. The other benefit of this program is that it offers students who want a career in manufacturing a cheaper route than completing a four-year degree and accumulating student loan debt.

More information on GAP can be found here:





  1. What are other states doing to try and tackle this issue? Are there other programs similar to these out there right now?
  2. Will these types of programs be enough to cover the 2 million job gap that is currently expected? Are these programs and ones like it making a significant enough impact?

How will apprenticeship programs like GAP change the way younger generations view secondary education? Will we see less enrollment in the standard four-year degree and an increase in trade schools or associate degrees?

How Increased Global Volatility in 2019 Will Change your Supply Chain

As we move into 2019 it is easy to see that this is going to be a challenging year as there is more volatility than normal because of the geopolitical climate we are in. From the trade war with China, tariff increases, and a less stable US economy on top of the standard sources of risks – natural disasters, labor disputes, etc. – 2019 is going looking to bring new challenges to supply chains and procurement teams. According to the article “Global Volatility & AI: How It Will Affect Your Supply Chain” by Rajesh Kalidindi, these additional risks are going to lead to several changes in how a procurement department and supply chain are run.

Firstly, you are going to see a shift towards scenario planning from procurement, or in other words “What If” analyses are going to be in higher demand for helping make procurement decisions that mitigate the impact of these growing risks. Next, you are going to see a shift in procurement priorities from straightforward, consistent cost reduction to ensuring continuous supply and limiting price increases – especially as tariffs, wages, and interest rates continue to rise. In order to help achieve these changes, organizations will begin to rely on predictive and AI-enabled technologies to fill the gaps in their current capabilities and what is being asked of them. This is the first step I moving towards AI-led business. Those who already have this technology in place with begin using it in conjunction with product design to provide new insights into New Product Introduction (NPI) that will enable companies to optimize the life cycle of their products by addressing supply risks from the get-go. All of these changes will lead to a need for new procurement and supply chain employees with greater digital literacy. All of this will lead to changes in the way supply chains and procurement departments look, and it all starts with the increased market volatility being seen in 2019.





  1. How long until we see the majority of supply chains using AI-enabled technology?
  2. With the onset of AI-led business, how will the role of a procurement officer change in a company?

What will happen to those companies that are behind the trend of predictive and AI-enabled technologies? Will they become insignificant or still have a role to play in the market?

How to Survive the Overwhelming Tide of Data

With the increase in accessibility to production and quality data from the use of automation, the Internet of Things, and handheld devices manufacturers are finally able to gather and analyze data to improve their processes at a level hereto unseen before. However, with this seemingly limitless access data comes a new problem: having too much data. More and more companies are falling into the trap of collecting data for the sake of collecting data just because they can and this can actually be harmful to a business. As Douglas Fair states in his article “Drowning in Quality Data: How to Rise Above”, “the insight gleaned from data that is what actually benefits the business”. This means that along with optimizing their processes and machines on the manufacturing floor, manufacturers now also have to think about optimizing how they collect their data so that they are getting the most benefit from it.

When optimization the data collection process, it is important to ask these five simple questions when assessing whether or not they need to be collecting certain pieces of data.

  1. Why do we need to gather this data? What is the improvement we are trying to make with this data we are collecting?
  2. How will we use the data after collection? What are we going to do with it after we have collated it?
  3. Who will evaluate the data? Will it be automated or will we be dedicating personnel to it? Do we have the labor available right now to handle it?
  4. What is a reasonable amount of data to collect? Can we defend why we need as much as we do or could we do the same thing with less?
  5. How frequently do we need to collect the data? How often are we analyzing and using the data to make decisions? Do these coincide with each other well?

At the end of the day, the only sure fire way to make sure you don’t fall into “data gluttony” is to check yourself and ensure that you are collecting data for specific purposes, using all the data you collect, and acting on the insights gained from the data to improve your bottom-line.





  1. With data becoming so centric to operations now-a-days, are we going to start seeing roles dedicated to data analysis on site at plants? How will this affect the way plants are run?
  2. What are the costs associated with “data gluttony”? Is it really as big a problem as Fair makes it out to be?
  3. How long does the process of optimizing data collection take? How often should companies review their data collection process to ensure they aren’t collecting useless data?

How will manufacturing progress in 2019?

As manufacturers are continuing to run their operations as lean and efficient as possible technology is continuing to drive change industry. Decision Analyst, on behalf of IQMS, conducted a survey of 151 North American Manufacturers about technologies that they are using to transform their operations. Louis Columbus wrote about the results in his article “Ten Manufacturing Technology Predications for 2019” where he summarizes what the key technological advancements will be that transform manufacturing as we enter the New Year.

  1. More attainable lights-out production courtesy of affordable Smart Machines that are able to run unattended for two or more shifts.
  2. Real-time monitoring with Wi-Fi enabled shop floors and IoT enabled smart machines to improve scheduling accuracy, inventory control, plan performance, and greater flexibility in managing production lines.
  3. Greater adoption of analytics and BI to capitalize on data streams and improve capacity through better resource planning and scale their businesses.
  4. Mobile ERP and quality management applications will become mainstream thanks to advances in integration, usability and high-speed cellular networks and help companies improve data accuracy and operational efficiencies and reduce operational delays.
  5. Digitally-driven transformation with a customer focus by utilizing the above to offer short-notice production runs and achieve greater supplier collaboration.
  6. Replace old legacy machines with cheaper smart machines helping small and mid-tier manufacturers pursue new digital business models.
  7. There will be a major shift to fast-tracking of smart, connected products to avoid price wars and premature commoditization so that within two-years at least two –thirds of product portfolios will be connected thanks to IoT and other technological innovations.
  8. Spreading of the security perimeter thanks to a proliferation of IoT endpoints and an increasing amount of threats to operations from new sources.
  9. Utilizing IIoT to increase productivity by helping improve the inconsistent, inflexible legacy data structures form the shop floor to the top floor.
  10. Greater revenue streams from those manufacturers who were early adopters of IoT will widen the gap between those who adopted IoT early and those who did not.



  1. What will happen to manufacturers who don’t embrace these changes? Will they be able to catch up or will they soon become irrelevant?
  2. What will be the major challenges faced by manufacturers who try to adopt these changes in their operations? How quickly will they see the results from these changes?
  3. Looking beyond 2019, how will the manufacturing space continue to grow as newer technologies come out?