Remember how the IKEA Place app allowed us to experience what it would feel like to have their signature pieces in our homes? Pokémon Go sent the younger demographics on a wild chase even as it gave the world a taste of what Augmented Reality (AR) technology can do.
The world of humans and machines is intertwined and symbiotic today. The reality around us has always been three-dimensional but for decades our understanding was based on two-dimensional pages and screens that fell short of what we wanted to know. Until Augmented Reality started narrowing the gulf between the real and digital worlds.
Such is its demand that MarketsandMarkets predicts the global augmented reality market to grow to $77B by 2025 from $15.3B in 2020 at a CAGR of 38%. From an estimated 598 million devices by the end of 2020, the number of AR active devices is expected to touch 1.73 billion by 2024.
AR is the convergence of the digital and the real world. AR has become mainstream and is being leveraged in all areas including manufacturing.
As demand for remote assistance and collaboration from enterprises continues to rise, AR-based apps are now being extensively used for monitoring, identifying, and fixing technical issues. They also play a pivotal role in various areas of manufacturing such as designing, retrofitting, assembling, manufacturing, repairing, etc.
Equipped with AR wearables, the manufacturing workforce can now achieve feats that were previously unthinkable. Here’s a sneak peek into the many roles this tech plays in empowering the manufacturing industry.
1. Offers Live Support and Equipment Maintenance
Caterpillar Inc. used an innovative augmented reality-based live support video calling platform to take its commitment to provide remote assistance to the next level. This helped technicians perform service and maintenance checks while taking pictures, having live support, and getting step-by-step instructions to complete a task.
AR enables customers, dealers, and technicians to interact with products and visualize 3D renderings of equipment, and collaborate in real-time. In the new normal of contactless interaction, AR presents the perfect solution to enterprises to offer expert support to their customers anywhere in the world. This not only saves time and effort but minimizes downtime significantly.
AR also helps identify problems and errors that may stop machines and equipment from working optimally. Mitsubishi also offers maintenance support using AR wherein technicians wear smart glasses to check the order of inspection of items on AR display and records results with voice entries. This method comes in handy in noisy environments and eliminates manual errors.
AR takes away the guesswork from maintenance and ensures methodical response and faster recovery time. AR devices enable the maintenance team to instantly see all the details such as operation times, date of the last service, potential points of failure, etc.
2. Facilitates Product Design and Development
The augmented reality when used for product design can accelerate workflows, reduce costs, and infuse precision. While we are familiar with prototyping, AR allows developers to evaluate concepts even before the prototyping stage with a concept called ‘pretotyping’. It allows them to critically evaluate product variants and ascertain if they are indeed building the right thing with the required precision. Explains Brenden Monahan CPO at Vusar, “Faster failings result in even more successes and also fewer missed chances. With AR your initial prototype could be your last.”
NASA too has utilized AR to speed up the construction of the Orion spacecraft while its Mission to Mars AR app is giving users a virtual ride to the Martian planet. With AR, it’s almost akin to seeing a product being designed and built in real-time. Design teams can collaborate, deliberate, and offer insights to eliminate the tedious back and forth communications and iterations. With AR, manufacturing companies are now able to reduce turnaround times as well as delivery times.
3. Aids Complex Assembly
Boeing – the world’s leading manufacturer of commercial jetliners – managed to cut production time by a whopping 25% with a nearly zero error rate using AR technology to wire hundreds of planes. As Randall MacPherson, senior manager of Boeing’s Electrical Strategic Fabrication Center in Mesa, Arizona puts it, “We’ve seen significant productivity increases in our wiring harness facility from this technology where we’ve tested it, and it resulted in a substantial improvement to first-time quality. Wearable technology is helping us amplify the power of our workforce.”
AR is now being used by pretty much all modern manufacturing companies that need to put together a zillion pieces in complex assemblies at the speed of thought. There are assembly instructions to adhere to that can now be seen in the work field in real-time during conception as well as maintenance phases of manufacturing.
4. Ensures Quality Control
AR with its ability to overlay the real world with digital data helps manufacturers conduct quality control processes with precision. It informs technicians about defective product components and whether product components meet quality parameters with quick inspections. The findings can be further compiled in precise reports for future reference.
Automobile giant Porsche has already implemented AR to test processes in real-time, conduct quality audits with suppliers via video conference, and subsequently set new quality benchmarks. AR gives technicians a decisive advantage to analyze performance, compare systems, and detect deviations. Incorrectly installed parts can be visualized while missing parts can be identified. The results obtained using AR help manufacturers save time and live up to their promise.
5. Streamlines Logistics
Every time a customer places a new order, certain procedures need to be followed. From checking the inventory to scanning the product, to preparing it for delivery to actually delivering it – there’s an elaborate process involved. But with AR, it’s easy and quick. In fact, AR proved to be quite a game-changer for DHL that set new standards in order picking by allowing its workers to see things like picking instructions, locations of items, and exact placement on carts through head-mounted displays.
DHL claimed AR implementation in warehousing operations helped improve its picking process by 25 percent. Hands-free order picking has helped increase productivity and has played a big role in improving operations during transportation, last-mile delivery, and a host of value-added services that allow them to collaborate better with their partners and make their customers happy.
6. Aids in Training and Upskilling Employees
Often, putting someone new on the floor can lead to safety concerns since they are unfamiliar with the protocols and equipment. But AR ensures they can be trained without any compromise on safety by explaining the ‘why’ and ‘how’ pertaining to their jobs. AR-enabled apps can offer complete visibility that helps trainees to get a hands-on experience.
With AR at the helm, trainees do not have to struggle with manuals all the time. AR works alongside to help them even in the most challenging environments providing them step-by-step guidance to understand documents, manuals, and other work-related stuff. This helps them get hands-on experience along the way.
Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) too leveraged AR in collaboration with Bosch to train their employees with a technical training app that digitally visualized an X-ray into the Range Rover Sport vehicle dashboard. Manufacturers are now using AR even for upskilling to boost the abilities of production workers for better performance, safety, and worker satisfaction.
Give your business the AR edge with Trigent
AR is helping the manufacturing sector improve productivity, decrease costs, and ensure a higher level of safety.
At Trigent, we have been connecting humans and machines through AR for many years now. Our highly proficient team can empower you with customized solutions to help you in diverse areas of manufacturing including production, maintenance, training, and QA.