Augmented Reality in Manufacturing
Augmented reality has several applications in manufacturing, including product design and development, streamlined logistics, optimized assembly schedules, and expert support with data management.
One of the most common uses for AR in manufacturing is training. Employees can be given AR glasses or a smartphone app that guides them through a virtual tour of a manufacturing facility.
Real-time Work Guidance
The factory floor is a dynamic place, where things are constantly moving from one station to the next and from task to task. This is a recipe for mishaps and downtime that negatively impacts productivity. Real-time location systems (RTLS) can make a huge impact by tracking where every part, piece, and person is throughout the process, helping to minimize the risks of human error and inefficiency.
RTLS also makes it possible to monitor and control the flow of materials, work orders, or workers through a manufacturing facility. This can save time for everyone, as well as prevent unplanned downtime.
Instead of relying on paper instructions that can change based on who is training a worker, digital work instructions standardize information across an entire enterprise. They also automatically update in real time, ensuring no information is lost.
In addition, digital work instructions can incorporate quick inspections as needed without impacting cycle time. They can also give frontline employees access to the latest technical data on their machines and products, as well as maintenance history and parts availability in warehouses.
Many complex assembly tasks, like wiring harnesses or mounting electrical components, require a high level of accuracy. By visualizing where components go, workers can be more confident that they are placing them correctly and safely, which in turn reduces errors and reduces production time.
Even in the aerospace industry, augmented reality systems are being used for complex assemblies of spacecrafts. NASA uses HoloLens AR headsets to assemble the Orion crew capsule, and Boeing has developed smart glasses and an AR application to help assemble aircraft fuselages .
By using a high-quality system, manufacturers can achieve dramatic improvements in efficiency and quality when it comes to these tasks. In fact, users have documented a 90% reduction in errors and a 40-50% reduction in production time when a digital work instruction system is used to guide operators on the shop floor.
Moreover, the use of AR can narrow the skills gap between experienced technicians and new workers on the manufacturing floor. This is especially important in the context of mass customization and when a workforce is composed of a mixture of newcomers and experienced operators. It can also be helpful in the case of elderly people and other individuals with impairments that might need assistance when performing manual assembly tasks.
Virtual work instructions help workers navigate complicated assembly procedures by replacing static documents with AR glasses that display step-by-step instructions directly on the equipment they are assembling. They provide assembly engineers with instant direction and voice instructions, as well as an environment tracking interface, so they can remain hands-on during the process.
By creating digital work instructions, companies can reduce the time and expense of printing and distributing physical documentation. These instructions can be customized to suit the individual needs of each operator, and are available in multiple languages. The addition of visual and auditory elements like blinking lights, animations, and videos can also draw attention to the steps.
In a world where the average human error is estimated to cost manufacturers over $500 billion per year, preventing errors before they happen is critical. Traditionally, quality control and augmented reality in manufacturing inspections were conducted at the end of processes and often resulted in lengthy inspection times. Using digitized work instructions, companies can incorporate quick inspections at each step without hindering the production flow.
For instance, when a piece of equipment is serviced, technicians can use AR to identify the machine by scanning its barcode and leveraging the digital data stored in the systems about that machine. This information can include maintenance history, spare parts required, and other crucial details for ensuring that technicians are able to complete their tasks quickly.
Another use of AR in manufacturing is asset identification. When servicing a machine, staff can use AR to identify the piece of equipment by scanning its barcode and leveraging the scanned barcode’s data in the enterprise MES or PLC system. This information can be used to quickly determine the parts needed for repair or replacement, reducing production delays and increasing labor productivity.
Additionally, guided AR solutions make it easier to perform quick inspections at any step of the process, allowing workers to catch mistakes before they can cause a defect in the product or halt a production line. These solutions can also be used to verify the correctness of a process by spotting divergences and abnormalities in the production flow.
Product designers use 3D models to create new products using computer software called CAD (computer-aided design). These models allow them to check that their designs are correct before they start building, which can save time and money.
Engineers and architects also use 3D models to design buildings and structures that they can build. These models also help them to visualize how the finished products will look before they begin construction.
The 3D modeling process involves breaking objects down into smaller parts called polygons. The polygons are then combined to form a three-dimensional image on the computer screen augmented reality in manufacturing that can be manipulated with the mouse or other input devices.
In addition to creating models for games and animations, 3D modeling is used in engineering, architecture, science, commercial advertising, and more. It is a technique that can be used to create anything from a detailed model of an organ to an entire universe for video games.
A common way that manufacturers use 3D modeling is to create virtual models of products for their websites. These models can be used to showcase different color variations, animations, or augmented reality experiences, which can increase customer conversion rates by up to 250%.
Another important use of 3D modeling in manufacturing is to assist with the assembly of products. This has become a more efficient way to produce products, as many parts can now be automated and assembled by mechanical systems. However, there are still some steps in assembly that require manual attention. AR can help workers to speed up this process and reduce production costs.
One of the best applications of 3D modeling in manufacturing is to provide a realistic and accurate depiction of maintenance requirements. This can be especially useful for ensuring that products are maintained at optimal levels of quality.
This type of visualization can be especially useful in predictive and preventive maintenance, as it helps plant managers and factory employees to spot maintenance issues before they become critical. This can save time and resources for companies that rely on preventive maintenance methods, as it allows them to keep their production lines running at maximum efficiency.
One of the most effective ways to use augmented reality in manufacturing is for training. The technology is especially useful for educating employees on how to complete complex tasks using their preferred learning style.
For example, if an employee is trying to learn how to assemble a machine, they can use the technology to overlay virtual instructions and other important information on their workspace. This can help employees learn to use the equipment properly, reduce errors, and increase production speed.
Another way to use AR in manufacturing is to provide safety training for workers. These training materials can be used to walk employees through dangerous scenarios and alert them of potential hazards, such as electrical wires or sharp metal objects. This can reduce the chance of injury and save companies money in lawsuits.
Many manufacturing jobs require workers to operate high-tech machines and equipment. The problem with this is that new employees often lack the necessary skills to operate these items safely and efficiently.
But with the right tools, this problem can be solved. Using augmented reality in manufacturing allows new employees to see what they need to do and how to do it without having to be put into dangerous environments.
In addition, augmented reality can be used to train technicians and engineers on how to service or repair equipment in real-time. By combining this with digital twin technology, manufacturers can create a virtual clone of an asset, which gives technicians a dynamic, digital model of the asset to work with.
This is an efficient and cost-effective method for maintenance, as it can help technicians learn how to fix issues on the spot instead of wasting time researching problems in manuals. It also helps technicians collaborate and communicate with experts over the Internet, cutting down on travel expenses.
Augmented reality can also be used to build quality into processes. This can be done by reducing the learning curve for new employees, delivering work instruction in real time as needed, and reducing search times for content and error rates.
This is an important way to build quality into the manufacturing and warehousing industries, as it can help companies decrease production errors and safety incidents. It can also reduce maintenance costs and downtime, as it can help operators, engineers, and technicians solve problems on the spot.