Augmented Reality is a trend now. Many companies are trying it out to see what they can do with it. General consumers have had a chance to experience AR with the Pokemon GO game, but in this article, we will cover AR applications to manufacturing — and review some of the benefits.on.
Augmented Reality Is a Thing in Manufacturing
The key element to staying relevant and growing your business faster is to test, adopt, and implement new technology.
That is what Industry 4.0 is all about. Manufacturers are looking to technical innovation to help cut costs, enhance production and distribution, and create the best products possible.
IoT technology has become popular among manufacturers as a means of controlling the production process seamlessly, from the very start to distribution. It enables engineers to collect and analyze any data they want, at any given time. It is fast and convenient.
Now, everyone is talking about Augmented Reality as a new way to interact with information provided by IoT devices.
The main purpose of Augmented Reality, when it comes to industrial applications, is to assist in the production process and provide valuable information and insights when needed. We will take a look at how AR can boost production at various stages.
The example of AR headsets that workers can use
Engineers can use Augmented Reality to design cars, planes, and production equipment. Manufacturers can study an AR model of a product to test its functionality and features, as well as study design and construction. The information can be used to further improve the product before it is built.
AR brings the following benefits to the product design process:
- Better feedback. Engineers can overlay the virtual model on the physical product and get information in real-time. For instance, when looking at a vehicle prototype through an AR camera, the engineer can get information about the internal construction, body materials, and so on.
- Better preview. AR provides the opportunity to thoroughly study the product without building tons of prototypes. You can look at the product from different angles, peek into its construction, and get additional information on the product’s features.
Augmented Reality provides an additional perspective for product design
Today we still have people working on assembly lines, despite the high level of automation happening there. We can use technology to help those workers do their jobs better.
With AR, workers can get visual information about the details they need to assemble, the instruments they need to use, and so on. Also, the technology might highlight finished pieces of a product, making it easier to control the production process.
Staffers use Augmented Reality devices to get clear instructions
We have developed an AR solution for a European client. We have built a cross-platform mobile application that used Augmented Reality to help engineers conduct on-site equipment maintenance. The engineer takes a photo of particular equipment, then the application recognizes the types of equipment. Based on that, it provides interactive AR repair guides.
Dealing with complex equipment and products can be difficult for both new and experienced workers. New employees may struggle with learning the workflow, while more experienced folks have to readjust when new instructions come out.
Augmented Reality solutions can assist by:
- Saving time. Workers can get hands-on instruction before they start working with real equipment. They can also review the instructions at any time, so there’s no need for ongoing instructors and mentors.
- Improving the quality of work. Workers with AR devices can have all the information they need to do their work properly. On top of that, workers tend to remember the instructions better after going through and AR training.
- Reducing failure. Another great thing about AR training is that it makes workers less prone to making mistakes, because it’s hands-on and accompanied by an abundance of useful information.
Trainees rely on Augmented Reality to perfect their skills
No manufacturing process is fully protected against equipment failure. While machinery is down, production pauses and your business loses money.
To make sure the equipment gets back up and running as fast as possible, the production team can utilize Augmented Reality solutions to quickly identify the cause of the problem and solve the issue.
For instance, at Porsche workers rely on AR to quickly identify technical problems and resolve them.
Maintaining equipment as efficiently as possible is vital when it comes to keeping the production line running smoothly. Large production facilities cannot afford to waste a lot of time on equipment maintenance. That’s why they are constantly on the lookout for new ways to cut down maintenance time.
Using AR applications, engineers can get the order of review on their AR displays, and while running tests on equipment, can get condition details while they are performing the tests.
ThyssenKrupp has built an Augmented Reality app, for example, that allows service workers to visualize and identify problems with elevators and gain easy access to technical information.
These features optimize the maintenance process, making it faster and more cost-effective.
ThyssenKrupp’s employees use Microsoft Hololens to inspect and maintain elevators
Augmented Reality development helps manufacturers work more effectively by keeping the information they need right in front of them. Not only production lines but also storage facilities and warehouses can benefit from AR.
Let’s take warehouses, for example. Workers can use Augmented Reality in combination with IoT technology to get information about the products at any time. Each plays its role:
- IoT: Objects in the warehouse can be tracked using beacons that send data about object movement to the company servers.
- AR: When the worker needs to get a certain item, s/he can access the server for information about it; using the AR headset or mobile device, he or she can get the location, specs inventory, condition, and other details about the object.
The Augmented Reality solution can also make navigating to a particular section of the warehouse or production line much easier.
Augmented Reality applications make it easy to locate and keep track of items in the warehouse
The quality of manufactured products can be improved by adding AR as well.
Companies are already implementing Internet of Things devices to keep track of the production process. The technology can monitor the condition of equipment, single out flawed parts, and alert engineers if something goes wrong.
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The workflow can be improved further using AR technology. Using AR, engineers can see all the info gathered by IoT quality-control devices right in front of their eyes, as the production process happens.
Airbus relies on such an approach, which the company calls SART — Smart Augmented Reality Tool. Since its launch in 2011, over 1,000 Airbus employees have used it daily.
As we can see, Augmented Reality holds huge potential in manufacturing. It definitely makes operating and managing a production facility easier and more transparent.
With the development of Industry 4.0, the expansion of IoT, AR, and other tech will continue even faster. Even at the stage, we’re at now, this technology provides many opportunities to boost your business and push the industry forward.
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