STEP Talks Webinar: Seagate – using AR & VR in Manufacturing

STEP Talks Webinar: Seagate – using AR & VR in Manufacturing

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Good afternoon everyone. For those that  don't know me, my name is Stephen Kelly. I'm   Chief Executive of Manufacturing Northern Ireland  and I'm delighted to chair this STEP talk today.   For those that don't know, STEP is Smart Technology  Empowering People and it's a partnership between   Invest Northern Ireland, Enterprise Northern  Ireland and ourselves. It's really about trying   to create awareness and to accelerate engagement  in terms of digital transformation across Northern   Ireland, in particular in our manufacturing  communities. These are short, sharp engagements   and there's an opportunity for you to ask some  questions if you use the chat function on your   screen. Everybody's camera is off and everyone's  mic is off so please use that chat function   as we go through. The format of the sessions are,  we're going to have a very short video. Just  

about four minutes, four and a half minutes long, that acts as an introduction to the experience of   local manufacturers in terms of their deployment  of digital technology to improve productivity   in their businesses. Then we'll follow with the Q and A where you'll get the chance to   ask those questions that you may have been  inspired as watching the video and listening to   our speakers. I'm delighted to say that  Fergus O'Donnell who's the site lead for   Seagate Technologies in Springtown in Derry has  agreed to be the first manufacturer to actually   tell their experience about deploying digital  technology within their production facilities.   Seagate will share their experience about using  augmented reality and virtual reality in their   manufacturing environment and particularly during  the most difficult Covid pandemic experience that   we've all had over the last year or so. Having had a chance to preview the video already   I think you'll be impressed by just the  level of technological engagement that Seagate   have managed to bring into their production. For those that don't know, Seagate Technology  

are a large manufacturer based in the  Northwest. They are a world leader in data   storage and data management solutions and has  a proven track record over the last 40 years   of industry firsts and the  use of technology in terms of their production   facilities. Fergus is the Director of Operations  and the site lead for Seagate in Northern Ireland   and as part of the global team he is responsible  for business performance targets, supporting people,   quality, costs, output, customer and  innovation. We will begin with the video.   Do feel free to ask questions in the chat  box and then we'll kick off with Fergus, thanks.   Hi my name is Lester Kelly. I'm a Senior  Staff Engineer here at Seagate Technology.  

I work in the innovation, automation and control  group and my role is basically to try and help   engineers solve their problems using technology.  2020 was shaped by a global pandemic and had   a profound impact on all our lives. At Seagate  we operate under an abundance of caution with   our priority being the health and well-being of  our employees, our contractors, suppliers and our   local community. During the pandemic augmented and  virtual reality presented us with an opportunity   to test new technology to engage and learn with  staff, contractors and technologists as Covid-19   restrictions reduced access to the site. As  we move along our Industry 4.0 journey we   continually review our manufacturing technologies  to be more precise and faster in how we do things.   Over the past four years we've been watching  the development of the hololens technology.  

Hololens builds on the concept of augmented  reality. Integrated into headset, this technology   offers an interactive experience of a real-world  environment where the objects that reside in the   real world are enhanced by computer-generated  information. We were interested in this product   because of the potential it held for  connecting people globally, in the real world, in   real time but virtually it presented unique  opportunities for collaboration and learning.  

When Microsoft first released its beta version of the hololens, the hardware was   still in development but showed great potential.  The timing of Seagate's transition to Microsoft   products aligned with the release of the second  generation hololens. This gave us an opportunity   to explore the potential of integrating it  into the business more effectively. The product   offered a unique feature of direct spatial  mapping technology using small laser scanners.   This feature enabled accurate anchoring of virtual  objects in the real world while you moved around.   We purchased one device to test integration  into the business and to verify the ability   of the Microsoft device to its specifications. Once  the basic concept was tested and value proved,  

we worked with Microsoft and our IT teams  to integrate it into the business securely.  The pandemic created a unique challenge for  contractors and technologists to access the site   and support teams. We quickly realised the  global potential the hololens remote assistant   application would provide for the company  and contractors worldwide. We now utilise 20   devices all over the world for all types of remote  support and this technology is still evolving with   more opportunities to come. Engaging the teams is  relatively easy as you can imagine when somebody  

wearing the hololens for the first time reaches  out into thin air to grab things, everyone gets a   wee bit curious. From that point on it was a matter  of holding several meetings and demonstrating its   ability. The great part about the hololens is that  the meetings to demo the product are started and   arranged just like any other meeting. We simply  start up a Microsoft Teams meeting and everyone   can automatically see what you're seeing. The bonus  with the hololens is that the users are hands-free  

to interact with the real world and operate or  repair a machine with the guidance of an expert.   Any meeting member can share documents that are of importance to the task at hand or   even annotating objects that  the hololens user is looking at. The true test of any new technology is how  quickly people adapt and get comfortable with it.   The hololens remote assist app has enabled us to  get equipment support from anywhere in the world.   Whether it be thousands of miles away or  people working from home. We've been able to  

repair equipment when our on-site support team  needed specialist knowledge to do so. Technicians   and engineers were able to fix tools with the  support of a vendor and gain critical knowledge   as they were guided through the steps virtually  but in real time. Going forward as we continue to   roll out the hololens we will review new applications  developed by Microsoft and industry partners.  

We see huge potential in Microsoft guides for  augmented on-the-job training where the user   can perform a task for the first time with  the assistance of inanimate objects and   instructions overlaid on real-life objects. With  Seagate's goal to help reduce carbon footprint   and reduce travel costs, we're also excited to see  how Microsoft's new application Mesh develops. The   ability to collaborate with colleagues from across  the world as if they were in the room with you,   this opens up a new world of collaboration  and sharing ideas. Augmented and virtual   reality are two similar technologies that  can be utilised in two very different ways.   We use virtual reality for training or awareness  of situations that's difficult to convey in 2D,   or unsafe to do so in practice. Augmented reality  is used to enhance real-world objects with  

additional information to make tasks faster  by providing information on the go. As a team   we constantly review and adapt to new technologies  to keep us progressing on our Industry 4.0 journey. I'm sure like me you may have grown up  watching Star Wars or Star Trek and seen some   of the technologies that were present in those  movies and not realising that it would be   real world application here in Northern Ireland.  I'm sure you were impressed with Seagate   and their adoption of that, adaption and adoption  of that technology so far. If Fergus is still there   with us we could turn on his his camera  and his microphone, that would be great.   Fergus, great to have you with us all the way  from Derry, where I'm also sitting, but in a   different part of it. Thank you Stephen, thank  you for having me. We're going to be quite  

gentle with you today and start off with some  questions for you and maybe just begin with    Why take this approach? Why did Seagate  adopt this approach particularly in a time of   such uncertainty over the last 15 months or so.  Okay, that's a good question Stephen. As   you look back over the last 12, 15 months from the start of the Covid   19 pandemic, we we did apply what we called an  abundance of caution and that was all about   keeping our people, our families and our community  safe. That continues to bear priority as we go   forward. So the issue was the global pandemic, it  restricted access to the site for contractors and   specialist companies and we wanted to consider  effective ways to support business continuity   of operations. Like a lot of the companies that we, that we talk to, we   purchase equipment from OEM's all across the globe  and these tools need service and repair.   We have a very experienced team of technicians  and engineers but sometimes you need the vendor   expertise. Typically starts with  phone support but the next step can be on-site  

as you need eyes and hands on the equipment to  the next stage of troubleshooting and training.   Suddenly these routes were not available  to us, so as Lester showed in the video   thankfully we did have some IT 4.0 projects  underway. For example, we'd already   experienced the benefit of virtual reality. We'd use that in providing training on our product   build for our employees and some, for some  engagement activities and initiatives with the   local community. We'd also started looking at  augmented reality and that included the hololens.   This challenge ultimately added momentum to  the adoption of the hololens technology as   Lester explained in the video. So, if the need for  remote specialist support the hololens really was  

the obvious fit to meet our requirements. It allowed us to complete some critical   training and tool support activities without  requiring the presence of a vendor on site.   Really, without the hololens this would  have been a major challenge for us. I'm sure like many businesses that are  tuning in the restriction on international travel   has had a big impact on your business as well as  theirs. Now, in terms of your adoption of that   technology and it there to meet the challenge, the  very real life, real world challenge that you   were facing in terms of keeping the production  facility operable but without the ability to   bring specialists to you. I mean during that period  was there lessons learned for Seagate? Was there  

lessons learned that would be applicable for other  manufacturers who might be watching in today?   Yeah, I think as you mentioned there when we talk about our vendors having good   partnership with our vendors was critical  on this here but we look at say the main lessons   lessons learned, I would say the big one is just embracing new technology and ideas.   This whole thing of continuously reviewing  technology, challenge the norms that we learn every   single day and just keeping that open mind to  seek out diverse opinions and listen to new ways   of working as these all create the opportunities  to ask, what can we do better?   The other part would be, take your  time. There's a lot of options out there so   review the comparable devices that  were there. We looked at hololens but we looked at   a number of other options as well but finally  we selected hololens. So start with   reasonable and manageable tasks, to  prove the concept and understand the limitations   of the options that are there. Then really try  and test the capabilities of the system once you  

understand it and expand its functions to address  some of the complex issues. I think a big part   of it and that's really why we're here today Stephen, is share your technology story.   At Seagate, innovation - we use the term it's in our DNA but sharing   your experience can create all of the  connected conversations, ideas and new applications   of the technology. We need everyone to  become early adopters of new technology as   we move forward on our Industry 4.0 journey. It's  equally important to share the small wins and the  

big successes too. I think why we're  here today was from one of the meetings   that we had with the makers forum, where we were  showing some of the things that we had done   and then we were asked to come along  and share it with the broader group here today.   There's a question in the chat already  about other technologies, so there's a company   who's asked about, they're currently using  Oculus Quest 2 for patent data display and   is asking is hololens more practical? Why hololens for you? Why was the decision taken   on that technology rather than another? I think  for hololens it was really, was the  the simplicity of its use on the Microsoft Teams platform and   it is, when you look  at a lot of options, it's very it's very affordable   and it was, the training was  relatively straightforward.   For when we talked with our other vendors  and other sites, it was the one where we felt   we could expand most effectively  really, that was why we went for it. 

I remember the morning when you mentioned the  fact that you were adopting this hololens   technology and how cost effective it was. Every manufacturer in the room sat up and took   notice at that point and all said, can we come and  have a look at it? That's what inspired   you joining us today, so thanks for that. People  think that these things could cost an arm and   a leg but not necessarily. Sometimes the best  solutions are the most cost effective ones.   In terms of that process and the  journey that you were on, I mean what were the   sort of results or impacts or benefits that Seagate  found from that experience? Okay, maybe just to   give an overview of our manufacturing process  just from a cycle time perspective Stephen, so   our process here in Springtown from  where we start the product to it actually   leaves the site as a finished product, it takes  anything from 5 to 6 months depending on the   on the product configuration. So we're a critical part of the overall  

global Seagate supply chain for our storage  device solutions. So a big result was during the   whole Covid-19 pandemic, we have been able to manage  factory operations with a high degree of certainty.   The remote learning and the toolset maintenance  and also external audit requirements   we were able to continue those as planned  with the benefit of using the hololens.   This really has kept us on  track for the key deliverables for output   and quality while maintaining  a safe factory environment.   That's often overlooked, I mean we  were very fortunate in some respects where   the executive here decided that manufacturing  was critical to not only our economy but in  keeping the thing, keeping the place moving. For those who don't know I mean about 1 in 5   digital devices in the world have a little piece  of Seagate technology made in the Northwest    in those devices. So being connected, continuing  to be connected, everyone with a device at home  

was critical to making sure that we were able  to share information, to keep connected to our   families, to continue to work and keeping  the facility in Springtown open has been critical,   not just for Northern Ireland but for many  territories across the world. That's why   the work that you and your colleagues  have done has been so important. Just   keeping the doors open and keeping  working has meant that the communities everywhere have been able to continue  to to go about their lives as best possible.   Can I ask then in terms of, that's a  part of a journey that you've been on but   what's next for Seagate? I mean what's next in  terms for you and your team in relation to   Industry 4.0 and particularly that digital  transformation in your manufacturing?  

Okay, so we all know the Industry 4.0, it's the next generation of   manufacturing and I think when I reflect  on it, it is how often has history taught us   in manufacturing that if you do not continue to  evolve, especially with the environment around you   you will fall behind. I think the big thing of the  fourth industrial revolution, it connects people's   machines and data by utilising machine learning  and artificial intelligence to drive   innovation and productivity. So we have teams  established across Seagate globally   looking at further potential opportunities within  Industry 4.0 and it's based on our major   factory priorities. So we're looking at things  that new manufacturing execution systems,  AGV's, Cobatics, 3D printing, virtual reality,  augmented reality as we've talked about.  

Information Security, 5G and accelerating  innovation with data science and data analytics   is huge. The thing where we find, we have IT 4.0 the concepts we're creating,  it creates massive amounts of data and that in  turn, it's fueling enormous opportunities   for Seagate products and technologies. If you  think about the data generated, in   2021 we estimate data to be about 60 zettabytes.  By 2025 we see it growing 175 zettabytes.   So all of the things that are going, creating so  much data and the big challenge is how you   gather that data and how you analyse it. So we want  to empower our teams of comprehensive data sources   and new digital skills to increase our agility  and flexibility in responding to our customers.  

We work with Invest NI and academia to try to  match our requirements with the technology and the   resources that are currently available. I think  the increased efficiencies that can be developed   within our processes by Industry 4.0 is going  to be essential for us to maximize our potential.   Great, we have some really, kind of  detailed technical questions coming in   here, which I won't throw at you Fergus  you'll be glad to hear. This is a nice  

gentle introduction to you all but I know there's questions there   about the importing or use of your own 3D  models etc. What we'll do is, we'll take that   question and the guys at Seagate will respond  directly to the person asking that question. What support  would you suggest other companies use   Fergus? What would help them on that journey? I  think the thing is Stephen that you and I found   with all the discussions  we have with other companies that we all   have the same challenges. It's all about  modernisation of our processes. A huge part of   it is, collaborating and sharing  ideas and skills - that's just so important.  

That's why the makers forum is so valuable  to allow us to share and support each other.   The other thing, success depends  on the passion and skill of our people.   Things like, as we go forward are  really an adaptive workforce. The skill development   and training is huge and the concept of  lifelong training and learning. I think the  

other thing I'd say is, new graduates. Recruit our new graduates and   I don't know about you Stephen but I  reflect, back when I was a graduate and   I compare myself to the new graduates that we've  got there is, they're just so confident and smart.   I think they're living the technologies that  we need to learn and so I think having    capturing that expertise in our companies is  so important. People have to be   active in their own career development as well  and take an ownership of your career direction   and interest. I think a big part of all  of that comes down to collaborating with academia,   our universities and our our regional colleges. I think that's a huge part of it and  

we recently, Seagate completed the Makers Forum Industry 4.0 Assessment   with Invest Northern Ireland and they are  helping us to understand some of the industry   support initiatives that could help us progress  on our journey. I'd also say just collaborating with yourself Stephen  and Manufacturing NI is hugely important as well.   Well it's great to hear Fergus of course. It's  interesting we've just completed some  

survey work of our manufacturing community  that we do regularly. We do it every six months   alongside solicitors and we've added  some questions in and around digital technology and   digital adoption. Sadly only about 1 in 5 manufacturers actually see it   as a priority. Now, obviously Seagate is a  technology business. I mean it's one of the most   advanced production facilities in the world based  here. In terms of those smaller manufacturers  

or those that maybe haven't started this journey, I  mean is there a cultural change required?   Is there a leadership change required? I mean what are the types of   small steps that you would do, you would say to  inspire others to get on that journey? Yeah   I think I would say it would be, it's a cultural change. Within   Seagate, we've started the journey over  the last few years and we've   had a lot of learnings as we try and work with  all our various sites across the   globe. There was examples where we  were doing things in isolation rather than sharing   and learning from each other, so I think that has to be what the   culture is part of it. It's all about challenging the norm and   how do we improve? How do  we bring ourselves and our companies   forward for this next generation that's  so challenging that we have ahead of us.   If you were in a smaller manufacturer,  obviously every pound's a prisoner, particularly   now. I'm sure that that's a very  similar environment that Seagate are in where  

we need to be productive and every  pound needs to work for the business   but in terms of return on investment,  what are the types of things that you look   for when you're taking  some of these technologies in?   Again, it's what you're  driving all the time is, you're trying to drive   greater efficiency and so that's a  huge part of what you measure as you   go forward and you adopt any of these technologies.  Then it is your product roadmap.   What is your product roadmap? What  are the technologies you need to be more effective   with your product roadmap? One of the things that we talked a lot about,   talked earlier about was the amount of data, the volume of data   and there are resources out there to help  companies analyse data, so it would be   utilising that would  be a key aspect as well.   Again, part of that is to leverage some of the   universities, where having courses and students in on placement to help with certain  things is definitely a huge benefit. 

I think again, as we all say and  it's so true, is the skill set that   we have on the island is  is huge. Tapping into that and having the   effective systems to do that is so critical  no matter what your company size is.   Before the session ends, there's some guidance about some support that Invest   NI have to help people on these journeys as  well which is useful and we'll come to that before we   finish. Can we just add on to that then, obviously  you're a big employer but you're a big spender  

here as well. I mean are you taking  some of the learning that you have   internally and working with your supply  chain on those elements? Is there something   that in terms of Seagate as a leader here is  helping inspire others that are   supporting Seagate to do what they  do? Yeah, I think again it's  being, it's that transparency of  the technology that you're using   and sharing those with their suppliers. We've worked a lot with our suppliers   on the hololens example that we talked  about. It has been so effective  

when we've worked with some of our vendors that  are across the globe. That has made us  in partnership with them, challenge the  way we've done things historically and    when we're in a post-pandemic world again that  these, rather than having to   have people you know jump on a plane and  come over here, there's going to be aspects   that we're going to be able to do remotely  with the benefit of the hololens technology.   Just a final question for me Fergus, what's the future for   for Seagate here? Obviously, you've  been an enormous contributor to   the Northern Ireland economy for a  while. You're clearly constantly  

in innovation mode and in development mode. What does the future look like in terms of   the market that you're in and any other final  recommendations for those that might be tuning in?   Yeah, well you know again, Seagate's in the business of data storage solutions and when we look at everything that's going on around us, again as   we mentioned earlier about the data explosion. Our storage solutions are   really the the backbone of what is, what  is needed to enable the harnessing of   all of this data that's out there. So the future is very strong for us.  

Fergus, that's great. I don't have any other Q and A for you which is great, I'm sure you're relieved.   I know you're incredibly busy  and actually you should be on a   a corporate meeting as we speak so the fact that  you've taken time out of your day to come and   talk to us is very much appreciated Fergus. Congratulations to you and your team, hopefully   some of what people have heard this morning,  they can take into their own business and begin   to see that kind of productivity improvement  that we all need, through that driving of digital   transformation. Fergus, thanks very much. As  I mentioned earlier there are some supports   available for businesses, if maybe the slides  were available which is great. Thank you Stephen.  

Fergus thank you. So this is the first of  a series of STEP talks that we're doing. They're   meant to be short, sharp introductions. Hopefully as a means to to help inspire   others in our manufacturing community to get on  that digital journey. Our next one will be on  

the 26th of May, again at 2 o'clock and that's  with Kieran Kennedy who's the Managing Director   of O'Neill's sportswear. If people don't know  about O'Neill's they've certainly have heard about   them quite a lot over the last year, in terms of  their Covid journey, stepping up and supporting   the front line in terms of medical scrubs but Kieran really shares some of the challenges   that they've had to overcome in their business  which is in textiles but it's also in retail   and it's also in e-commerce, so I think there's a  lot of lessons there for manufacturers in terms   of getting direct to the customer. Following  Kieran and O'Neill's, we have David Bigger from   SAM NI which is a very large aerospace firm. David will share his experience with   embedding those digital technologies into  their production processes. Then finally  

we have Collins Aerospace on the 23rd of June, where Ross Kane from Collins Aerospace who make   airplane seats, particularly first and business  class seats and they'll talk about the greater efficiencies that they've been able  to achieve, both in terms of efficiencies   but also improving their quality through  the deployment of augmented reality   and other assisted operators. Barry can have the next slide please. I mentioned the fact that certainly  the vast majority of our businesses out   there are small SME manufacturers, the good news  is that Invest NI have secured some funding from   the Department for the Economy and from the Northern Ireland Executive.   There's a new grant, just been launched in  the last week if people have not come across it   yet. That's a grant to support the process and organisational improvement in your  

business. I think from memory it's a grant  of between 50 and 200,000 pounds, so it's   quite a significant amount of money that will be  able to allow you to invest in your business   to improve that productivity and that  digital transformation. Information is available   on the NIbusinessinfo website. I'm sure it's on  the Invest NI website as well. Next slide Barry. Then just a couple of other things, so there is a very limited mentoring   opportunity. Organsations like Seagate  and others have offered to actually work with   the rest of our manufacturing community on  a mentoring programme. Now we don't want   thousands of applications of course because people's times are limited but   there is a chance to actually learn on a direct  basis from those people who've introduced some   of these technologies in their business. If people were interested in that and if you've  

been inspired with what Fergus and his colleagues  are doing at Seagate as well as other businesses   who are taking part in these STEP programmes, if you could email That's and express your interest in  that. Then following on from that as well, if those   that are interested in really embarking on that  Industry 4.0 journey then Invest NI have again   some support. Now it begins with a very useful  Industry 4.0 assessment and Fergus mentioned   the makers panel that we've established and  all the businesses on that makers panel have   already undertaken this Industry 4.0. Some of  the most complex businesses and some of the  

more traditional businesses have started by  taking that assessment. What we've discovered   so far is that businesses of all size and  complexity have actually quite a lot to learn   and quite a lot to potentially invest in, in  terms of their business. So do embark on   that journey but don't embark on that journey  alone. Do take part in those 4.0 assessments   because they've been found to be incredibly useful  so far. Again, if you email  

that's an opportunity for you to actually  hear and get that support that you require.   I'd like to thank everybody for joining in. These are intended to be very short, sharp   introductions. Hopefully, there's something  there that will inspire you. Please do sign up for  

the rest of the STEP talks that are taking place  over the next number of weeks and hopefully we'll   see you in a couple of weeks time with Kieran Kennedy from O'Neills. Thanks very much for joining us.

2021-05-20 04:42

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