3 Ways Harpak-ULMA Improves Efficiency in Packaging Operations with AR

Written by: Cindy Dustin

Read Time: 3 min

In a highly complex and rapidly changing industry, Harpak-ULMA Packaging is at the forefront of using cutting-edge augmented reality (AR) solutions to solve real-world business problems in the packaging industry and meet its customers’ needs. 

Over the last couple of years, unprecedented conditions have changed traditional methods and protocols, forcing original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to cope with the new reality. OEMs like Harpak-ULMA must ensure peak operating performance for the packing machines that its customers rely on.  

In addition to increased machine and process complexity, Harpak-ULMA’s customers face workforce challenges including labor retention, employee training, scarcity of technical skills, and staff shortages.  

“Our customers can see anywhere from, you know, 30 to 60% workforce turnover quarter to quarter. And so, I mean, if you think about that over the course of the year, our customers have to hire their entire frontline workforce, plus 20% over again.” 

Alexander Ouellet, Innovation Engineer, Harpak-ULMA Packaging 

Harpak-ULMA’s strategy is to bring value to its customers through smart, connected, AR-enabled machines that not only play a key role in addressing the skills gap and optimizing efficiencies, but also provide competitive differentiation in crowded markets. 

3 Ways AR Optimizes Packaging Operations

The Vuforia Enterprise AR Suite provides Harpak-ULMA the flexibility to create solutions that optimize packaging operations and meet diverse customer needs. AR offers rich, visually based training, on-demand expert guidance, and in-context, step-by-step instructions and assurance for complex tasks, that can be accessed at any time, from anywhere.

Accelerate Training

Onboarding new hires and upskilling current employees quickly and efficiently is essential for organizations faced with high workforce turnover. Harpak-ULMA’s employees and customers learn by following AR training sequences on how to perform a film or a tooling change, diagnose common faults, or troubleshoot procedures, which improves retention, speeds time to proficiency, and builds confidence. AR-based training helps employees visualize complicated procedures with a combination of videos, text, and images, which are digitally displayed directly in the context of the real object.

Increase Accuracy and Efficiency 

AR provides frontline workers with on-demand, step-by-step visual guidance during the execution of critical tasks. This can reduce the chance of error by enforcing checkpoints and confirming that the task was performed properly. Using AR technology, domain knowledge can be captured for any task or machine and used to create augmented work instructions that are easily accessible when and where they are needed, making even the smallest workforce more capable.

“We see the AR value proposition as delivering significant productivity gains in human labor; improvements on the order of 30-60%, depending on the specific application.”

Alexander Ouellet, Innovation Engineer, Harpak-ULMA Packaging

In addition, Harpak-ULMA uses Augmented Remote Assistance to guide the onsite tech to execute a task leveraging simple on-screen annotations that quickly clarify instructions to the user. The result is faster time to repair for the customer and no travel costs incurred by Harpak-ULMA.

Improve Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE)

Combining IoT technology with AR facilitates service diagnostics and allows staff to view real-time performance data as the machine is running. Leveraging AR to visualize simple operating sensor data (such as ceiling pressures or temperatures) or more complex data (such as OEE metrics from smart, connected machines) can alert the onset of a failure and help prevent disruption.

Furthermore, AR service instructions can identify the exact part in need of repair, guide the technician to the exact location, and provide a step-by-step repair sequence to fix the problem. This significantly reduces downtime and keeps the machine running at peak performance so that Harpak-ULMA customers are meeting their production schedules and making money.

“We've had customers see double digit improvements in OEE, which if you figure for some of our customers, a minute of downtime can be tens of thousands of dollars.”

Alexander Ouellet, Innovation Engineer, Harpak-ULMA Packaging

From improving new hire productivity and asset efficiency to lowering scrap and rework, AR has a tangible impact on Harpak-ULMA and its customers regarding revenue growth, operating margin, and the manufacturing and service skills gap.

Getting Started with AR

To follow in Harpak-ULMA’s steps, here are five actionable ways to make the most of AR at your organization: 

  1. Have a clear idea of the problem you’re trying to solve.
  2. Identify key metrics to determine the value of AR at your organization. 
  3. Bring in your experts to help define critical processes and procedures. 
  4. Create a plan to scale so you can maintain a clear trajectory toward your enterprise-wide vision. 
  5. Implement AR in measurable and prescriptive ways so you can build upon your prior success.

AR can help your organization increase the performance of its most important resource—its people— through faster and more cost-efficient knowledge transfer, training, and communication. With these five steps in action, you’ll be increasing packaging efficiency in no time.

Improving Efficiency in the Packing Industry with Augmented Reality

Hear more from Ouellet and learn Harpak-ULMA’s full AR story.
Tags: Augmented Reality Digital Transformation AR Workforce Efficiency Increase Asset Efficiency

About the Author

Cindy Dustin

Cindy Dustin is the Director of Vuforia Augmented Reality Product Marketing. She is helping industrial organizations understand the value that augmented reality can bring to their business by empowering front-line workers, modernizing training and work instructions and enhancing customer experiences. Having worked with industrial customers throughout her career, she is passionate about bring new technologies to market that address customer needs in manufacturing, service and sales and marketing.