COVID-19 Accelerates the Use of Augmented Reality for Engineering Collaboration in Compliance with Social Distancing

Engineering Report | May 19, 2020

  • Covid-19 will accelerate the business world’s move to Augmented Reality and other IoT solutions, as companies across the UK look to adapt to a new working normal.

  • It enables them to capture every step of the process/build/assembly and create an interactive step-by-step guide for other people to follow.

  • This is where the use of AR technology for collaboration and remote support of frontline workers has soared.

The way frontline workers have seamlessly adapted to the benefits of AR to continue to perform their roles during the pandemic has paved the way for greater adoption and a desire to tap into huge cost savings and greater productivity.

Whilst Zoom and Microsoft Teams have become a norm for office workers, physical specialists have embraced digital transformation to build ventilators, deliver crucial training to apprentices and solve production bottlenecks on automotive lines.

This has been achieved by allowing remote experts to see the physical world in video and annotate physical objects during the call, using a smart phone, tablet or wearable tech, such as Microsoft HoloLens glasses.

It enables them to capture every step of the process/build/assembly and create an interactive step-by-step guide for other people to follow, whether that is in a factory thousands of miles away or in a sister company in a neighbouring city.

Read more: Made Smarter, Enginuity Launch 'ENGAGE' Platform to Enhance Digital Engineering Skills

Traditionally, this would involve engineers travelling to the factory, but suddenly Covid-19 meant that was not possible. So, how do you facilitate collaboration between two frontline workers where one is a veteran technician who needs to explain a laboratory process to a new technician? This used to involve mentoring or ‘job shadowing’, but social distancing makes that difficult.

This is where the use of AR technology for collaboration and remote support of frontline workers has soared, enabling experts to be much more productive in helping to debug problems and resolve production issues remotely.

Covid-19 has meant industry has been forced to adapt quicker than it probably would have done under normal economic circumstances, but now they’ve had a taste of the operational and financial benefits it can deliver, I can see a major rise in adoption.

This will be through knowledge exchange and it can also be through knowledge retention when AR can leverage and store the experience and expertise of an ageing workforce so it can be passed down to the next generation. I genuinely believe Augmented Reality will become the Zoom of the physical world.

A good example of the power of Augmented Reality in work capture and exchange has been seen recently in the urgent production of ventilators for the NHS.

Smiths Medical, a medical device manufacturer participating in the Ventilator Challenge UK, needed to ramp up production and tapped into the capabilities of PTC’s Vuforia Expert Capture and Microsoft HoloLens to capture the crucial assembly steps and processes involved in building one of its Rapidly Manufactured Ventilator Systems (RMVS).

This was uploaded and edited to create a virtual assembly guide and relayed, through wearable equipment or smart devices, to the factories of consortium partners that haven’t made ventilators previously.

Read more: This U.S. construction firm is raising buildings via drone

Protecting all the workers involved in the project was of paramount importance to the consortium and this is where AR proved ideal for removing a lot of the dangers, by virtually placing a ventilator expert into a partner factory – thus reducing the risk of the virus spreading.

Whilst Augmented Reality has a lot to offer it has to be implemented carefully and companies need to consider three main things:

Prioritisation in how AR can be used across your business and where will you gain the most operational and financial benefits Could it be sales and marketing, could it be on the shop floor or in the field?

Secondly, make sure the solution is designed with a device type in mind to ensure a good user experience and this covers whether it is head-mounted or hand-held. Don’t be swayed into going with the latest technology, make sure you choose the right application.

And finally, AR is only as good as the quality of the content and the data that companies use.


This job’s not about survival of the fittest, fastest, or cheapest. Today, you have to be the smartest. That’s what Precision Construction is all about—tools that give you the freedom to focus on what matters most: your business. Because smarter always works harder.


This job’s not about survival of the fittest, fastest, or cheapest. Today, you have to be the smartest. That’s what Precision Construction is all about—tools that give you the freedom to focus on what matters most: your business. Because smarter always works harder.

Related News



Clark Construction Group | September 01, 2022

Clark Construction joined representatives from the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) on August 30 to celebrate the topping out of the Lifecycle Overhaul and Upgrade (LOU) Facility project in Fredericksburg, Virginia. At the celebration, the final steel beam was signed and placed atop the facility. Clark is serving as the contractor on the project. The 33,500-square-foot facility, which broke ground in December 2020, supports the maintenance infrastructure required to carry out lifecycle repairs onsite, thus reducing out-of-service time for rolling stock, improving costs, and maintaining locomotives, railcars, and cab cars at the highest level of reliability. The facility more than doubles onsite workspace. Once complete, the maintenance facility will house industrial equipment such as a drop table and a wheel truing machine. Over the past months, crews have excavated more than 64,000 cubic yards of soil, placed 2,600 cubic yards of concrete, installed 5,300 linear feet of new track, and erected 40 tons of steel to bring the facility to full height. In addition to the maintenance facility, the project also includes the construction of two new railroad tracks to accommodate four cars simultaneously. "This milestone would not be possible without the strong partnership between Clark, VRE, Gannett Fleming, STV, and the other design and trade partners on this project, The trust and support from these parties, coupled with the hard work and dedication of the project's talented craft workers, has enabled this critical infrastructure project to progress safely and successfully. I'm tremendously proud of this team that has worked 100,000 hours without a single recordable safety incident." -Ed Hanley, vice president at Clark Construction. The project team has brought us to this exciting achievement, the placement of the final beam, as we move toward delivery of this transformational facility, said Rich Dalton, chief executive officer of the Virginia Railway Express. We look forward to our continued partnership, which will ensure the successful completion of the LOU. With structural steel complete on the maintenance facility, the team will shift its focus on installing the maintenance equipment, overhead crane, and office areas within the facility. The project is slated to complete in Spring 2023. About Clark Construction Group: For more than a century, Clark Construction Group has been transforming the ideas and visions of its clients into world-class projects that make the United States a stronger, safer place. As one of the nation's largest asset creators, Clark has offices strategically located across the country to serve the needs of its clients. About the Virginia Railway Express: The nation's 13th largest commuter rail service, VRE connects Central and Northern Virginia with Washington, D.C. VRE has been the preferred travel option for tens of millions of commuters and day-trippers for the last 30 years. Safe, reliable, convenient, clean, and environmentally friendly, VRE runs 32 daily trains on two lines, Manassas and Fredericksburg.

Read More


Oldcastle APG Acquires Operations of Sterling Sand and Soil Mender Products

CRH | November 25, 2022

Oldcastle APG, a CRH company, has acquired the packaging operations of Sterling Sand and the soil business of Soil Mender Products. The acquisitions of its co-packing partners enable Oldcastle APG to extend its geographic position and production capabilities in high-demand, high-growth markets to best serve its customers. With operations in South Carolina and North Carolina, Sterling Sand is a leading regional manufacturer and distributor of specialty sands for industrial, construction, recreation and other end-market uses. An established co-packer for Oldcastle APG's Techniseal business, Sterling Sand is a key partner in the bagging and distribution of its polymeric sand products for customers in the Southeast US. The acquisition of Sterling Sand's packaging operations will enable Techniseal to achieve increased production capacity and market share growth potential in southeastern markets. Soil Mender Products is a leading regional manufacturer of lawn and garden solutions that promote soil health, biodiversity and outdoor aesthetics while supporting a thriving ecosystem. Located in northwestern Texas, it operates as a co-packer for Oldcastle APG's large retail customers in the Texas market. Soil Mender's advantageous geographic position, coupled with its exceptional product offerings and industry knowledge, effectively strengthen Oldcastle APG's Lawn & Garden business in the region. "As North America's leading provider of integrated and sustainable outdoor living solutions, we are excited to welcome Sterling Sand and Soil Mender Products to the APG Family as we enhance our Techniseal and Lawn & Garden manufacturing capabilities, With increased production and growth in the Carolinas, Texas and surrounding markets, we can continue to provide end-to-end outdoor living solutions to customers across the country." -Tim Ortman, President, Oldcastle APG. About Oldcastle APG: Oldcastle APG, a CRH Company, is an international provider of outdoor living and building materials, with industry-leading positions in hardscapes, concrete masonry, fencing and railing, bagged dry mixes, lawn and garden, pool finishes and composite decking. Oldcastle APG's signature brand portfolio includes Belgard, Echelon, Barrette Outdoor Living, Sakrete, Pebble Technology International and MoistureShield. About CRH: CRH is the leading building materials business in the world, employing c.73,000 people at c.3,200 operating locations in 29 countries. It is the largest building materials business in North America and in Europe and also has regional positions in Asia. CRH manufactures and supplies a range of integrated building materials, products and innovative end-to-end solutions which can be found throughout the built environment in a wide range of construction projects from major public infrastructure to homes and commercial buildings. A Fortune 500 company, CRH is a constituent member of the FTSE 100 Index, the EURO STOXX 50 Index, the ISEQ 20 and the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) Europe. CRH is ranked among sector leaders by Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) rating agencies.

Read More


Coastal Construction selects COMPASS for trade partner prequalification

COASTAL CONSTRUCTION | September 09, 2022

Bespoke Metrics Inc. (Bespoke Metrics) is pleased to announce that the full-service contractor with headquarters in Miami, Florida, Coastal Construction Group, has selected COMPASS to assist in assessing and qualifying its trade partners. COMPASS is Bespoke Metrics' pre-construction software suite that collects, centralizes, and analyzes trade data on behalf of general contractors across North America. Operating in Florida since 1988, Coastal Construction Group employs approximately 400 people and has developed a distinguished roster of public and private clients. Coastal Construction Group has built its reputation on quality workmanship, workplace safety, and supporting local organizations and businesses through its philanthropic arm, Coastal Cares. "We're extremely excited to be partnering with a technology that not only enhances our current prequalification program, but one that also benefits our trade contractor partners themselves. COMPASS allows for the efficient submission and collection of prequalification related data between the General Contractor and Trades, freeing up time for both parties to be better spent servicing our projects." -Chris Robinson, Coastal Construction Group’s Director of Risk Management. Coastal is a key partner for COMPASS and has an outstanding reputation of overseeing and building high quality projects in Florida. The addition of Coastal and our growing partnerships with local trade associations provide tremendous support in achieving our vision of unifying prequalification for all parties in Florida, said Mark Newman, Senior Vice President at Bespoke Metrics. ABOUT COASTAL CONSTRUCTION: Award-winning Coastal Construction Group and the Murphy family have been building projects throughout Florida for more than five decades and have earned a reputation as one of the leading contractors in the Southeast region. Coastal currently has operations in Miami, Palm Beach, Naples, Orlando, Tampa, and the Florida Keys, and specializes in commercial, hospitality, single and multi-family residential, educational, government-related facilities and disaster recovery projects. Coastal's portfolio includes more than 60 hotels and resorts in Florida, including the Ocean Reef Club, Fisher Island Club, St. Regis Resort & Residences Bal Harbour, the Miami Beach Edition, The Ritz Carlton South Beach, Four Seasons, Faena Hotel, and the West Palm Beach Hilton, The Cove Orlando and JW Marriott Water Street Tampa as well as numerous South Florida condominiums, office buildings and schools—such as the Porsche Design Tower, Residences by Armani Casa, Mystique, and the Bacardi World Headquarters. ABOUT BESPOKE METRICS: Bespoke Metrics is a data management and analytical model development company. We blend expertise in data control, model development and user interface to provide innovative solutions for industries looking to utilize data to its fullest. Our team was built with experience in risk analytics with a combined 100 years experience in the marketplace.

Read More