Augmented Reality in Manufacturing
Augmented Reality in Manufacturing
Augmented reality is a type of technology that overlays fixed content like drawings and schematics over the environment. It’s accessible through devices like AR smart glasses, smartphones, and tablets.
AR apps can collapse the learning curve for new employees, deliver work instructions in real time at the point of need, and reduce search times. They also help build quality into processes by providing feedback.
Using AR, workers can instantly see what is wrong with the product to make necessary changes before shipping. This prevents product recalls and other issues that cost manufacturers money and reputation.
Another use of AR involves inspections and maintenance. This allows senior engineers to monitor equipment from augmented reality in manufacturing a distance, which helps reduce the need for on-site visits. Moreover, the technology super-charges condition monitoring (CM), which is a process that examines data points on equipment to predict when it will fail. This ensures that machines are not in danger of failing completely, which is costly for manufacturing companies.
In addition, AR can help train new workers and guide more experienced employees. This helps them to maintain quality standards and increase efficiency. It also minimizes the number of errors in production and improves communication between workers and machine technicians.
In addition, AR can be used for inventory management. For example, when a part goes missing during the assembly process, an employee can check the system to find it quickly. This saves the company time and money and makes the assembly process more efficient. It can also be applied to warehousing, where logistics workers need to know where specific items are in the storeroom. This can be accomplished with an app that displays work instructions on the screen. This is a form of AR that does not require the user to wear a headset.
Depending on the use case, AR can be customized to display information relevant to the task at hand. It can also help make tasks more efficient by eliminating unnecessary steps. For example, an industrial AR solution can display work instructions directly in the field of view to eliminate the need for employees to check a routing slip or go back to their desk to retrieve information. This saves time and increases productivity.
Whether it’s to provide step-by-step instruction for assembly or to help new employees understand equipment or procedures, the possibilities are endless. Using AR, companies can optimize the maintenance process by showing workers where to look for technical issues and providing real-time data about equipment performance, such as cycle times or defects.
Another use case for industrial augmented reality is remote assistance. When an employee is troubleshooting a problem, they can use an AR application to connect remotely with an expert who can answer questions and even see the customer’s environment through a live video feed.
This technology also helps companies improve their inventory management and storage processes. For instance, an employee can scan objects in a warehouse with their smartphone to get the location, spec inventory, and condition of the product. This can significantly reduce time spent searching for items and improve efficiency and accuracy in picking, shipping, and delivery.
Augmented reality can help reduce maintenance time by providing technicians and engineers with live assistance. In the case of mechanical anomalies, AR can point out the problem and offer possible solutions to eliminate downtime. The technology can also alert personnel to any potential hazards and prevent errors that may occur during the process.
Another application for augmented reality is knowledge transfer. For instance, industrial AR allows senior technicians to see what local engineers and workers are seeing, enabling them to provide guidance from afar. This was a particularly important capability during the COVID-19 pandemic when travel restrictions prevented many senior engineers from traveling to work sites.
Finally, augmented reality can help build quality into manufacturing processes. For example, with headsets that don’t obstruct movement, augmented reality can project step-by-step digital work instructions directly onto a worker’s workspace. This eliminates the need for printed or oral instructions and standardizes training across an enterprise. It also reduces search times and cognitive load by delivering information in real-time as workers need it.
The best augmented reality technologies have the ability to integrate augmented reality in manufacturing both manual and automated data, giving manufacturers a complete picture of factory functionality. For example, leading manufacturers use AR to track a product’s progress from the initial design stage all the way through the assembly process. By aggregating these minute data points, AR can identify exactly when and where inefficiencies occur in production and help streamline operations for greater productivity.
While manufacturers have brought in automation to handle many manual processes, there are still a number of tasks that need human attention. AR allows these workers to access both manual and automated data at the same time and makes it easier to identify devices in the factory. This reduces the work effort needed by humans to manually control automation equipment and increases productivity overall.
Another way manufacturing is using AR is to train new employees or guide more experienced workers through various workflows, like performing maintenance on a gearbox. AR provides an interactive visual that simulates the actual machinery and facility that these workers will use to perform their jobs. This is more effective than reading a printed manual and can help ensure that the information is retained.
Manufacturers also use AR to improve workplace safety. For example, workers can receive real-time advice and safety alerts through AR headsets. This helps to mitigate the risk of RSI (repetitive strain injuries) which can lead to severe physical impairment and costly lawsuits for the company.
Additionally, AR can be used to make the process of designing a factory more efficient. By allowing owners to preview their proposed factories, they can be sure that the equipment will fit and function as intended. This will save a significant amount of time and money.