Bridging the forging industry workforce gap with AR

Augmented Reality technology in the forging industry can provide expert step-by-step troubleshooting and training remotely. This forging technology will dramatically increase uptime and productivity.

ACE vision for forging operations

Today, forging companies are facing significant workforce challenges that can lead to decreased productivity and increased downtime. Manufacturers are struggling to find skilled workers to replace those who are retiring and to develop young workers to fill the knowledge disparity. The major issues manufacturers are facing are:

  • The immense knowledge and talent gap generated by retiring workers
  • The lack of available skilled workers in manufacturing locations
  • Mentoring and developing of younger workers is desperately needed
  • Designing an engaging training experience that is in line with how today’s workforce prefers to learn
  • Capturing the loss of unreplaceable tribal knowledge

To effectively overcome these challenges, capturing irreplaceable expertise and knowledge is essential. Then, impart this knowledge by engaging, interactive training experiences that align with how today’s workforce prefers to learn.

As a solution to bridge the knowledge gap in the forging industry, Ajax \ CECO \ Erie Press® has begun utilizing AR technology. Using this technology they are able to provide expert step-by-step forging press support and training remotely in minutes. This tool enables our expert staff to troubleshoot and deliver problem-solving guidance to factory operations without meeting on site.

With the use of the highest quality AR in the manufacturing process, manufacturers can quickly resolve forging production issues. Our expert staff will have the ability to guide manufacturing operators to a solution using ACE Vision.

ACE Vision: “Expert Connect” and “Expert Guidance” (powered by PTC’s Vuforia AR suite).

Expert Connect, connects forger staff to Ajax \ CECO \ Erie Press’s technical experts through an AR experience to accelerate problem resolution. The approach involves real-time video communications, so both parties can view the physical equipment simultaneously. AR tools allow both parties to make digital annotations on images and live video. It also enables the users to view schematics and share documents over smartphones, tablets, PCs, or AR headsets.

Expert Guidance, provides forge operators and maintenance staff with step-by-step immersive AR experiences to accelerate their productivity and learning. Innovatively, Expert Connect combines advanced AR collaboration tools with real-time video communications. The technology is utilized to connect a forging company’s technician with an Ajax \ CECO \ Erie Press expert. This assists in expediting the troubleshooting and training processes.

Using AR technology, we as the OEMs can accelerate problem resolution by as much as 90% and cut training time in half. Downtime is expensive, and if forgers do not have the knowledge to address challenges promptly, those costs can add up quickly. Therefore, we aim to optimize production uptime with the implementation of AR.

Optimizing production uptime with AR

Traditionally, the troubleshooting and repair of forging equipment production issues could take several days. Time-consuming and expensive travel would be necessary to provide the customer with hands-on support. As a result, while awaiting critical assistance, forgers were often left operating below production capacity or not operating at all.

The AR implementations by Ajax \ CECO \ Erie Press, have resulted in less time spent by experts and technicians resolving forging issues. This leads to increased operational productivity and efficiency within the forging process. In addition, this method delivers faster resolution without the time and expense of expert travel or repeat technician visits.

An operator/maintenance technician can quickly initiate a resolution by communicating with a press expert through ACE Vision Expert Connect. This process often takes only a few minutes, according to Bill Goodwin, Vice President of Sales and Engineering at Ajax \ CECO \ Erie Press.

“If a forging machine is down, a technical expert can use Expert Connect to see what the operator is seeing and guide them using annotations. This process expedites problem resolution by up to 90%. While also helping to overcome any language barriers or issues with hearing clearly, in an industrial production setting,” says Goodwin.


Immersive, step-by-step, professional training is another critical component for successful forming operations. In this regard, ACE Vision Expert Guidance revolutionizes the way forging employees learn, cutting time to proficiency by up to 50%. This assists in minimizing OJT and employee turnover due to a lack of knowledge.

Using AR is the fastest, easiest way to document and share expert employees’ years of knowledge with the broader workforce. With Expert Guidance, Ajax \ CECO \ Erie Press’s tenured experts capture step-by-step procedures and best practices as they work. They then transform those insights into reusable digital process documents, job aids, and training materials.

These documents can be used to improve the setup and change over time and accuracy. Assist in streamlining equipment assembly and maintenance. Also assist in modernizing employee training with digital, augmented reality-based work instructions.

AR used in training in forging manufacturing

The metal forging employees can then engage with these work instructions using a wide range of devices. These devices can range from AR headsets to tablets, and mobile devices. They can refer back to the information for ongoing training and day-to-day activities. Additionally, providing the best practices to the workforce helps guarantee that procedures are completed in compliance with safety standards and regulations.

“The traditional methods that manufacturers use to maintain an effective workforce are no longer sufficient. Younger generations expect more engaging and immersive experiences,” adds Goodwin. “Manufacturers are partnering with forging equipment OEMs that use interactive AR technology,” notes Goodwin. “We as the OEM provide standard digitized training and maintenance instructions using Expert Guidance, which can be customized as needed.”

Although manufacturers have often relied on in-person, expert OEM forging press troubleshooting and training AR technology offers a much faster, more cost-effective option. Those who take advantage of remote, interactive, AR-based troubleshooting and training will optimize their production uptime and operator readiness.

High-quality AR technology should be added to your manufacturing company’s continuous improvement process. This technology can assist with any type of forging method used such as hydraulic presses, mechanical presses, closed die forging, open die forging, hot forging, and everything in-between.

To determine how we can implement AR technology in your forging processes contact our experienced staff.

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