Augmented Reality (AR) is an emerging technology that creates an enriched version of the actual physical world by using various digital visual elements, auditory and other sensory information to enable an interactive experience for users.
Of course, there is no better example than Pokemon Go to understand AR precisely. Augmented Reality turns your ambiance into an interactive world, be it in the game, or you can leverage AR to fulfill any of your objectives. Yes, AR is not only for the entertainment or gaming industry.
AR can bring a massive impact in every other industry in several ways. Businesses and organizations are already leveraging AR to promote their products/services, do innovative marketing campaigns and collect exclusive user data.
So, you can safely assume that sky’s the limit for AR. Now, how can AR help in the manufacturing industry? A few years ago, implementing Augmented Reality in the manufacturing industry was a distant dream. But, it is not the case anymore.
You can enhance the manufacturing industry with AR by using various digital characters, images, stats, text, and information related to the employee’s current task. For instance, with AR, a tool or a piece of equipment can show its current running temperature, indicating it is unsafe to handle at the present moment.
Though it sounds like technology from a science fiction movie, AR is more a reality now. AR devices will become more prevalent in every industry in a few years. Imagine if you can know everything that happens around you, like colleagues’ whereabouts, machinery malfunction, and more.
Now, with those basics in mind, take a closer look at some of the ways you can leverage AR in the manufacturing industry.
1) Workplace Safety Training
In the manufacturing industry, workplace safety is highly crucial. When a new employee comes on the factory floor, they are often unfamiliar with the protocols, equipment, and procedures. That can lead to safety issues.
With the appropriate AR applications and devices, you can train the new employees and help them stay informed about the safety precautions. Thus, they can remain safe at all times without needing someone to guide them.
Furthermore, the AR system will deliver the needed updates and information to help new employees understand what is happening in the workplace, why and how that relates to their job.
Thus, students and novices can start a career in the manufacturing industry early while gaining hands-on experience along the way. It is an incredible opportunity indeed that deserves exploration.
2) Product Design and Development
Concepting, prototyping, and designing products is often a tedious and resource-intensive process. That demands repeated meetings, revisions, and back-and-forth communication between the team and executives.
However, that is the case on the design side. Needless to say, how challenging the process will turn when it passes to production and manufacturing.
AR can help you simplify the manufacturing process by augmenting and enhancing the task at hand and streamlining communication between related parties. It is like if a director or CEO sees the design process of the actual product in real-time through AR. Thus, they can provide their insights along the way, which will help you build better products, eliminating rework.
What if your maintenance team can understand which equipment and hardware have potential issues and need servicing or maintenance? Augmented Reality will let them know such details precisely. Yes, with an AR device, one can learn machine operation times, the date of the last service, potential failure points, and more.
Hence, the maintenance team can double-check the information every time they visit the warehouse or factory. Thus, they will get to know about the machine and equipment conditions prior.
So, you can avoid a lot of guesswork and confusion and enjoy faster repairs, quicker response, and recovery times. That, in turn, improves your overall operations in the factory.
4) Streamline Your Logistics
Often employees have to multitask for fulfilling orders and organizing warehouses. For instance, consider you receive an order. Your employee needs to check the information, find the required products or goods, scan it and report the data, deliver it to the loading dock, and finally, close the order. That can be a lot of manual work, which takes more time and, of course, a tedious process.
But, with emerging AR technologies, your employees can tap into a connected system that indicates exactly where the products and goods are, thus enabling them to work at a much faster pace. Also, they can scan the necessary information using the AR device that even reduces their job further. So, all that employee needs to do is fetch the product and deliver it to the appropriate party.
5) Complex Assembly
Today’s modern manufacturing demands putting multiple pieces in complex assemblies almost immediately. You can either manufacture the latest smartphone or the largest airliners; you have to abide by the assembly instructions.
The world’s leading aviation giant Boeing has to wire around 130 miles worth of wiring in every new Boeing 747–8 aircraft. Thus, Boeing opted for AR technology to make their technicians work easier and come with smart glasses. That wearable technology allowed Boeing technicians the instructions they needed right in their viewfinder.
Finally, Boeing has managed to reduce its wiring production time by 25% and reduced error rates effectively to zero. With no room for error, while building an airliner, Boeing ensures the highest standard aircraft.
To your knowledge, Augmented Reality (AR) is not only about placing virtual filters over machine assemblies on a shop floor. AR technology is much more than that, and you can incorporate it in every other sector you think.
In recent times, organizations leverage AR in their support applications to provide better service to their customers. Many companies are turning towards Augmented Reality applications to offer online customer support and sales activities.
AR apps allow customers to explore the components and features of your products visually. Thus, the customers can make informed decisions before finalizing their product purchases.
As many of you may think, especially after Pokemon Go, AR is all about interactive games. But AR is much more than that and is not restricted to the gaming industry alone. This blog would have cleared the air for you, allowing you to understand the few use cases of AR. However, it is only a fraction of the possibilities we saw about AR in the manufacturing industry.
AR technology is yet in the beginning stage, and we have to wait to see its true potential. Nevertheless, some manufacturing companies across the world have already started benefiting from Augmented Reality technology. Cost reduction, increased speed, minimal errors, work efficiency, better customer support, and improved safety are some benefits they enjoy with AR.
If you run a business in the manufacturing industry, start exploring how you can leverage this emerging AR technology to your advantage. The sooner you start, the better you will gain a competitive edge in your manufacturing industry.