The use of Augmented Reality is not just limited to gaming and entertainment. For instance, the applications of AR in Manufacturing keep evolving and transforming with the requirements.
A majority of the AR applications are still at an initial phase in the manufacturing industry, but it does show great potential. Moreover, the benefits of augmented reality extend beyond just digital characters and images.
The Wall Street Journal states, “Across multiple industries, augmented reality, or AR, has transitioned during the pandemic from intriguing experiment to the everyday tool.” Therefore, considering the Covid-19 Pandemic, the potential of AR sees significant growth.
Hence, in this article, we will learn ‘What is AR and its various applications and benefits in manufacturing’. Although we must first understand the concept of Augmented Reality.
Understanding the Application and Role of AR in Manufacturing Industry
In 1994, Paul Milgram and Fumio Kishino introduced the concept of reality-virtuality that became the building block of virtual and augmented reality. They further state that any environment which incorporates a blend of real and virtual objects is a part of Mixed Reality (MR). Hence, an MR environment where the content is virtual and the real world is augmented is termed Augmented Reality.
In other words, AR is a technology that enables people to view objects in a particular environment. It envelops a computer-generated image in people’s view of the real world by enhancing the version of reality.
Further, AR and Virtual Reality have now become a common phenomenon across industries. The technologies impact entertainment, gaming, healthcare, and education. Now, AR applications are also offering solutions for the Manufacturing Industry.
It is evident that the manufacturing industry is transforming, and AR offers solutions that allow more features and functions in the industry. Therefore, this leads to more flexibility, speed, accuracy, and efficiency in the processes. Hence, here are some important roles AR applications play in Manufacturing processes:
Enhancing the Speed and Quality
Manufacturing processes may sometimes be complex. Moreover, it requires experts and proficiency to ensure efficiency.
Therefore, with AR engineers can have a schematic view of the processes. Hence, this enables them to identify vulnerabilities. As a result, increasing the speed of the process by 30%.
Resolving any issues that occur on the Floor
The manufacturing floors often face issues and problems on a regular basis. As a result, this may lead to a delay or halt in processes Therefore, it is pivotal to identify and resolve the issues at the earliest.
With the applications of AR in manufacturing processes, these milestones are quick to identify and address in real-time. Moreover, it allows different teams and engineers to work on the issues while they work on other functions. Most importantly, it is easier to detect and rectify problems without affecting the production process.
Streamlining Data Access
All manufacturing processes generate a significant amount of data. Consequently, this data ranges from various guides, schematics, manuals, and user programs. Moreover, there is retrievable data for all the functions that run on the production floor.
However, running through, sorting and categorizing this data is a time-intensive task. As a result, AR streamlines the process of collecting the data. Moreover, it allows real-time access to rectify issues. It also enables a quick search to provide maintenance and repair guides.
As a result, training and guiding newer staff and members of the team becomes easier. It also allows them to access data to the overall materials and information.
Decreasing Time for Maintenance
AR provides complete access to the data when the requirement arises. There is certainly a requirement for the maintenance and management of components.
Moreover, AR determines the errors then produces the guides and documentation that possess the information to repair and maintain the system.
Therefore, it offers a concise solution to repair and maintain components in the least amount of time. Above all, it allows access to anyone who is part of the process to understand and run pivotal tasks.
Error Prevention and Production Downtime
Although AR provides the quickest solutions for issues, some problems may take longer to resolve. Moreover, certain issues may also halt the production process leading to production downtime.
Hence, with the application of AR in the manufacturing process, businesses can use the feature to superimpose virtual images against real objects or scenarios. As a result, it can identify any flaw or vulnerability in the process. Therefore, alerting the teams and resolving it before it affects the process negatively.
Faster Prototyping and Product Design
The manufacturing industry is very competitive. Moreover, businesses are under constant pressure to deliver innovative, rapid, effective, and cost-efficient solutions.
Therefore, AR enhances and augments the existing product and its service designs. Then, it gathers information for a completely new or more efficient technique for production.
Here are real-life examples of businesses that successfully use Augmented Reality:
Thyssenkrupp is a German multinational conglomerate that focuses on engineering and steel production. It recently began working with Microsoft HoloLens, which is a self-contained, holographic system. Moreover, it enables interaction between high-definition holograms that overlay in the real world.
Above all, the company uses the technology to make quick decisions and approve designs in real-time. It also enables the usage of the technology by the sales team to offer customers more visuals.
Through HoloLens a salesperson can measure the staircases and measure 3D point cloud data. As a result, the cloud stores the data which is useful for the manufacturing team.
The AR application provides Thyssenkrupp with efficient productivity and opportunities for customer satisfaction.
Boeing is a global leader in manufacturing commercial jetliners. Moreover, it utilizes AR technology to simplify the complex process of wiring for 787-8 Freighters. They are currently using Google Glass and Skylight software platform by Upskill to enhance their wiring tasks.
Originally, Boeing began with charts and laptops to complete their basic work and problems. Moreover, the technicians must constantly refer to diagrams to get assembly instructions.
Therefore, with the AR solution, technicians now get instructions as and when required. Further, through the Google Glass touchpad, voice commands, and head tracking interface instructions are easily available.
Above all, implementing the AR solution saves the organization 25% of the time in wiring processes.
Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) partners with Bosch and RE’FLECT to develop an AR integration training app for employees. Furthermore, the app aims to train new technicians without removing or reinstalling the vehicle dashboard.
Moreover, the app enables the technician to easily access the dashboard with an iPad and view everything hidden in the paneling. It also identifies the exact location and interacts with various components. It also generates connections through sensors and wiring diagrams. Hence, enabling the instructors to perform the training practices on the actual vehicle without dismantling and reassembling.
Porsche introduces the factory of the future in Leipzig and Zuffenhausen. They call it “Porsche Production 4.0”, which symbolizes a commitment for constant improvement by utilizing new technologies and methods.
Moreover, the factory employs robots for repetitive tasks and uses AR for quality control. The company is also conducting experiments with AR to understand if the technology is suitable for accurate information about the components. Hence, with AR engineers can obtain information on any potential issue.
DHL is a popular shipping and logistics company. Moreover, it is constantly aiming towards better speed and accuracy for inventory management.
The company introduced an augmented reality manufacturing app with Google Glass and other AR solutions. It also used displays to enhance the efficiency of its warehouses.
The technology provides workers with navigation solutions for inventory management. Above all, the pilot study for the app worked with 10 order pickers, fulfilling 9000 orders that included 20000 items. Most importantly, the app was a success that enabled efficiency in performance and reduced error rate. Hence, DHL eminently utilizes AR for better productivity and performance while improving customer satisfaction.
In conclusion, AR applications in the Manufacturing Industry benefit individuals and organizations. It also reduces the chances of errors and improves the design and production process.
According to the ‘Seeing is believing’ report by PWC, the use of AR and VR in product and service development may deliver a $360 billion GDP boost by 2030. It may also bring the global economy to $1.5 trillion by 2030.
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