More and more manufacturers begin to explore benefits augmented reality offers in an industrial environment. After all, manufacturing is about innovation.
Augmented Reality (AR) is proving to be one of the most impactful technologies influencing the manufacturing industry, helping many enterprises in the space to overcome current obstacles.
Workers can now connect in real-time to get the expert help they need, reducing errors and equipment downtime.
Knowledge experts even have the ability to share predefined AR-driven work instructions for common problems in the field.
Let’s take a look at some most common Augmented Reality applications in manufacturing:
Modern manufacturing involves putting together hundreds or thousands of components in a precise sequence as quickly as possible.
This is true whether you’re manufacturing smartphones or jet engines, and every new product requires a new set of assembly instructions.
“Your work instructions tend to be these PDFs that are hard to work through, plus they’re static documents, so they may be out of date,” commented Ash Eldritch, CEO and co-founder of Vital Enterprises, a developer of augmented reality software.
“We take those instructions and make them glanceable in your field of view at all times, hands-free and voice-controlled,” Eldritch continued. “So we break down the work instructions along with associated technical drawings and even video from the last person who did the procedure and put all that onto the [AR] glasses. That means you can keep your hands on your task and you don’t need to walk over to a work station to check something.”
Although the notion of projecting assembly information on a heads-up display may be fairly novel, assisting with complex assembly is already a tried-and-tested AR application.
Aside from providing digital documentation for monitoring and repair of industrial maintenance operations, AR is providing upskilling technologies to help production workers.
Upskilling is the integration between industrial workers and smart machines.
Primarily, AR augments production workers’ abilities to dramatically improve performance, provide industrial safety, and increase worker satisfaction.
Examples of deployed upskilling technologies can be seen in the repair of industrial equipment, such as conveyor systems or automation production lines.
Computer images, graphics, and text information can be overlayed and displayed using headsets or mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets.
When it comes to order fulfilment and warehouse organization, employees must multitask to manage orders and regular duties.
Let’s say an order comes in, for example. A worker has to check the information, find the necessary product or goods, scan it and report the data, deliver it to the loading dock, and then sign off on the order.
That’s a lot of manual work, which can balloon the time it takes to finish a simple, yet tedious process.
With emerging AR technologies, however, those same workers could tap into a connected system that tells them exactly where products and goods are, allowing them to work at a much faster pace. Better yet, they could scan the necessary information using the AR system, which could then be designed to propagate the order.
Then, all the employee would need to do is fetch the product and deliver it to the correct party.
Popular shipping and freight service DHL is already testing mobile AR systems in local environments. DHL employees use smart glasses from wearable computing solutions expert, Ubimax that greatly increase productivity, and reduce errors.