Improving the Skills Gap, Efficiency, and Quality Assurance in Aerospace Manufacturing

Improving Safety

Various studies indicate that up to 90% of all workplace accidents are the result of human error, with situational awareness often the root cause of mistakes. Eye tracking allows you to study human attention and pinpoint what environmental distractions or attention patterns precede an accident. In the metal foundry example, the eye tracking study also revealed visual patterns associated with spills. By understanding why worker attention was diverted, it was possible to implement training to prevent this from occurring in the future. This technique can be applied with virtually any manufacturing process, to highlight not just ailments to situational awareness, but also to help identify environmental factors, such as poorly designed equipment configurations, problematic workshop layouts, or even issues with lighting and visibility, which inhibit safe operations.

Eye tracking can provide key insights for improving workplace safety and performance in an industrial setting.

Reshaping A&D Manufacturing and Training

Just like 3D printing, robotics, and the Internet of Things, VR is among the advanced manufacturing tools propelling the fourth industrial revolution. New products are already available that add eye tracking to VR headsets. The beauty of VR is that it provides a safe environment in which to train with absolutely no consequences. It's already being used for flight simulation, maintenance training, and a raft of other processes within the aerospace and manufacturing sector. Once a 3D environment is created it removes virtually all physical, financial, and geographic boundaries attached to training and assessment. Imagine being able to simultaneously educate multiple workers in a virtual world before exposing them to the risks or consequences of the real task, or being able to create functioning prototypes for testing purposes without the manufacturing costs or space requirements normally attached. With integrated eye tracking you're able to ascertain how people are interacting with and responding to the stimuli within the virtual world, making it a valuable tool for training and assessment.

A&D is the leading net exporting industry in the United States, generating a trade surplus of $86 billion in 2017 according to the AIA. For a sector already leading the charge amid the fourth industrial revolution, harnessing the benefits of eye tracking will only stand to further cement its place as an industry leader. While the rapid integration of new technology is presenting teething problems for manufacturing worldwide, it also stands to support it and foster its growth.

This article was written by Mike Bartels, Senior Research Director, Tobii Pro Insight Research Services (Danderyd, Sweden). For more information, visit here.