Augmented Reality is one of the most talked-about innovation right now. Businesses and enterprises understood its potential for entertainment products – like TikTok and Pokemon Go. Others explore its potential for hardware – the market of AR glasses is forecasted to reach 19.1 million units. With such a wide adoption of the technology, it’s natural to consider applications of AR that lie outside of entertainment.
It’s possible that AR’s best application is, indeed, not in gaming or social media, but in industries, built on complex processes – like manufacturing. AR can provide better employee payment, show machine malfunctioning, allow keeping track of multiple processes simultaneously and get visual updates anytime and anywhere. Let’s examine the main ways in which augmented reality could be applied to production.
Hands-on and safety production training
Introducing a new employee to the manufacturing floor is a challenge due to the variety of protocols, equipment specifics, and potentially dangerous procedures. If the worker is introduced to the workflow without experiencing the actual production settings, it could lead to injuries and additional spendings.
Augmented reality applications for company training
Below you can find out how companies can benefit from AR-powered apps in training their employees:
- AR allows new team members to follow experienced members and feel as if they are physically present on the floor.
- Augmented reality provides a detailed visualization of all manufacturing processes: a new employee receives a 360-degree video of the factory settings;
- AR gives step-by-step guidance: users can use AR-based tutorials while they are trying out the equipment for the first time. AR can show visual cues of potential risk areas, walk employees through complex processes, and react real-time to their mistakes.
Such cases are already becoming common in certain manufacturing centers. Jaguar Land Rover, for instance, created a software platform in partnership with Bosch. With the software, a technician can see the details of the car without having to actually remove the panelling.
The application of real-time augmented reality logistics
When it comes to distributing orders and products, employees have to keep track of multiple things at once – from order fulfillment to warehouse management. A cost of human error is very high – a wrong direction or package can cost a company thousands of dollars. Also, logistics work entails a lot of manual processes: documentation management, product search, delivery, and order finalization. It takes a lot of time and requires employees to move a lot.
Augmented reality for logistics in manufacturing
Augmented reality technology, however, could minimize the requirements for employee’s mobility, allowing them to stay in one location while overseeing all the crucial logistics process. They could track products, personnel, transport with an AR system with order-tracking features.
DHL has been among the front-running adopters of the technology. The company is already exploring smart AR glasses and an AR application that allow employees to follow logistics workflow, minimize manual work, and reduce the probability of an error. The company started the project back in 2015, but it had then announced new $300 million investments – it’s likely that the outcome of the first experimental project brought good results.
Augmented-reality based manufacturing maintenance
Maintenance allows manufacturing companies to save costs on avoiding repair expenses, production downtimes, and maximizing employee productivity by offering well-functioning equipment.
Using AR in maintenance
Let’s discover some proven advantages of using AR technology for maintenance:
- AR can maximize maintenance results by letting teams track equipment’s work in real-time, getting visibility of the smallest internal details without having to take the machine apart, and identifying risky zones.
- Maintenance teams could use AR to be updated on the software’s state and issues without visiting the factory or taking the technology apart.
- It would lead to faster production performance, fewer investments into human resources’, prompt repairs, and reduced downtimes.
Such an application was already adopted by the U.S. Marines. Augmented-reality glasses display a detailed internal structure of a military vehicle, show problematic areas and show technicians the way to reach the stop. As a result, the need to take details apart decreases, and the repair is performed much faster.
AR-applications for product creation and manufacturing
Developing a new product is a time-consuming process that requires the cooperation of multiple departments, countless meetings, sketches, projects, and evaluations. Before the product even goes to the manufacturing stage, it has to go through many stages of ideations, testing, revisions, and communication between stakeholders.
AR in product development and production
Let’s find out how AR technology have changed the product development and production for the better below:
- Augmented reality allows product development teams to connect to remote teams, partners, and stakeholders.
- It provides 360-degree visual to all involved parties – as if you are located near the product. Augmented reality opens new possibilities for process monitoring: an executive or investor can visit the production team anytime and track a product’s development progress.
- You wouldn’t have to rely on verbal reports – instead, there is a detailed real-time visual representation.
Such AR applications are already actively incorporated in product design by companies like Thyseenkrupp – a company that creates devices for people with physical limitations. The software uses HoloLens to share the manufacturing process in real-time with stakeholders and end customers. Obviously, this increases trust within the team and decreases the average number of revisions. According to Microsoft’s report, HoloLens helped the team to reduce the production time by 400%.
Final thoughts on AR in manufacturing
The use of augmented reality in manufacturing allows enterprises to achieve two main goals. Firstly, you can increase the quality of the product by eliminating miscommunication during production, improving employee’s qualifications with AR training, and directing efforts to innovation instead of soling logistic inconveniences. Secondly, it’s a way to reduce the time, needed to produce the product, increase the team’s productivity, and reduce repair costs.
Both the end client and your team will feel the impact of the adoption of augmented reality into the production process. It’s a long-term investment, capable of building trust within your company and with clients and stakeholders. AR increases manufacturing visibility and transparency, and that, in turn, improves the company’s reputation and facilitates product development.