Augmented Reality in Manufacturing
Manufacturing requires high levels of precision and accuracy. AR enables manufacturers to deliver these results and reduce costs through the implementation of digital work instructions and automation tools.
AR can also be used to identify equipment or assets within a facility, making it easy for workers to locate machinery. This flexibility opens up new ways to engage with your workforce.
Augmented Reality allows workers to easily identify and track assets in real time. This allows for a better understanding of equipment and helps employees perform their jobs faster. For example, if an employee needs to troubleshoot an operating mechanism in a confined space, AR can enable them to view the internal components without tearing the machine apart or removing it from its factory location. This enables remote assistance from experts that would otherwise require them to travel to other locations, cutting down on repair costs and production delays.
3D AR also makes it easier for technicians to understand and work with complex systems. It enables them to see and interact with the system in real-time while working alongside it, helping to avoid errors that could occur from misreading manuals or using outdated information. Moreover, AR can help improve communication with other team members in the field or at the control room or integrated operations centre. It can also reduce or even eliminate the need for data transfer to and from various formats, streamlining collaboration and providing a quicker understanding of processes and outcomes.
AR can also be used to train new workers by overlaying virtual instructions over the real world. This helps reduce training times and increases consistency in the workplace. For instance, ABB developed an AR application called Augmentir that enables delivery of instructions for machine operation to operators via a wearable device. This enables them to see the steps of the task clearly, which ensures consistency in the workflow and results in less production variance.
Industrial AR improves worker productivity and operational efficiency, closes the skilled production workforce gap, enables collaborative work across departments, reduces error rates, cuts facility downtime, reduces rework & quality spills, and bolsters customer satisfaction. It also helps in reducing overall cost and boosts profitability of enterprises.
AR enables the transfer of valuable augmented reality in manufacturing knowledge to new hires, thereby making it easier to address the skills gap that exists in many manufacturing industries. Using virtual reality, experienced workers can help new team members without the need to travel to the facility, which saves time and money while creating an accessible and consistent training platform.
When a worker is in the middle of a process, an AR display can be used to provide them with real-time step-by-step digital work instructions that allow them to make better decisions and execute tasks faster. This eliminates the need for a paper-based checklist and allows employees to follow the right procedure every single time.
For instance, a warehouse employee wearing an AR headset can see a virtual version of the layout of a storage unit, so they know where to find items without having to look around the warehouse. This ensures that all inventory is accounted for, and it also makes the picking process much faster and more accurate. Similarly, a maintenance technician can use AR to display equipment or hardware schematics that need servicing, as well as view key performance indicators, allowing them to solve problems quickly and without obstructing production.
Augmented reality allows manufacturing employees to see tendencies in equipment performance and make adjustments that reduce the number of mechanical problems that can lead to downtime. It also enables workers to easily troubleshoot issues with machines and equipment by providing digital work instructions that guide them through the process.
AR can help improve training by using immersive environments to walk new employees through different scenarios before they face them on the factory floor. This makes it easier for trainees to practice procedures without putting themselves in danger. In addition, augmented reality gives employees real-time feedback when they’re using tools and machinery that can be dangerous to use, allowing them to get immediate information on proper safety protocol.
One of the most common uses of AR in manufacturing is real-time work guidance, which delivers instructions to workers visually. For example, when a worker is placing padding, glue, and wire harnesses on a headliner, an AR application like LightGuide can augmented reality in manufacturing show them the exact placement for each component so they can produce a consistent product every time.
Industrial AR can also help reduce maintenance time by letting technicians connect remotely with an expert who can provide them with instructions and guidance. This helps manufacturers cut down on maintenance costs and ensures a high-quality finished product. It can also let workers know if the equipment they’re working on needs to be replaced before it fails, saving them valuable downtime.
Reduced Maintenance Time
As AR improves and becomes more scalable, it can reduce costs across manufacturing functions, from design to production to maintenance. One of the most significant savings comes from reducing the need for manual processes and human visual checks. AR enables companies to monitor and evaluate products and materials as they’re manufactured and shipped, cutting down on the time it takes to track inventory and streamlines delivery processes.
Moreover, with AR, workers can quickly spot flaws or issues, which means the product can be recalled or fixed before it hits the market, saving money in the long run. AR also allows workers to communicate with experts remotely, further reducing maintenance and downtime costs by eliminating the need for costly travel.
In addition, augmented reality can also help companies save time and money on training. New workers can learn their job without interacting with dangerous machinery by simply wearing an AR headset that displays step-by-step instructions for each task. AR technology can also make it easier for employees to perform complex tasks, as they can view 3D models and holograms of machinery instead of looking at paper schematics.
Finally, augmented reality can also help businesses to save time in warehouses by providing them with precise information and instructions for where to find inventory. For example, an employee can wear a headset to locate a specific part, and it will display the exact aisle and shelf number where it’s stored.