The revolution that Augmented Reality (AR) brings to our lives is phenomenal. But there’s always been a raging debate about how it will change every industry’s face, especially the Manufacturing industry — whether it’s going to eliminate the human workforce by replacing it with automation or creating more intelligent job opportunities.
Since a technology’s magic lies in quickening manual tasks and offering accurate forecasts with on-the-fly adjustments, augmented reality in manufacturing is thriving already— allowing manufacturers, engineers, and logistical experts to improve workflows and enhance productivity with its advanced processing capabilities.
It is real, and manufacturers are betting big on this technology to unlock better productivity on the factory floor.
Augmented Reality: A Solid Definition
Augmented reality (AR) is an experience where designers enhance parts of the user’s physical world with computer-generated input. They create inputs—ranging from sound to video, to graphics to GPS overlays and more—in digital content which response in real-time to changes in the user’s environment, typically movement.” (Interaction Design Foundation)
AR transforms raw materials into a fully furnished product with more added value.
But Is it Necessary to Leverage Augmented Reality in Manufacturing?
Consider a situation where you have to build a vehicle with hundreds of thousands of tricky parts hooked internally. Some of them are too critical to be assembled by machines. Here, you have to put them together physically. The task will most likely take weeks, if not months, to get done correctly.
In such scenarios, what’s better than a tool or technology that automates the complex assembling task in just a few days? Here the role of Augmented reality begins!
AR can give you a proper workflow explaining what, where, and how to assemble. Furthermore, it identifies what errors could occur and how to fix them.
Such examples prove that a human and machine connection bridge with AR technology can better identify potential challenges. Also, it helps optimize product design processes and assembly automation, repair, maintenance, upskilling, and training.
The manufacturing industry, however, is suffering from a growing labor shortage for two significant reasons. Firstly, the skilled workforce is retiring due to age factors. Decades of experience also go with each retirement.
Secondly, there are fewer skilled individuals in the industry. They’re not getting the required experience for many reasons. Such type of jobs demands hands-on expertise with additional training programs. Rapid technological changes made the manufacturing industry high-tech.
Using cutting-edge Augmented reality in manufacturing is the only solution to these long persisting issues. It simply connects employees to complex manufacturing systems and improves the output.
AR in manufacturing offers advanced training methods for workers while they can learn virtually and apply it in a real environment. It boosts workforce and safety, driving operational performance, proofs to be a cost-effective solution to all problems for the industry.
AR, however, is reshaping the manufacturing industry at a breakneck pace — promoting faster execution, fewer manual processes, and better decision-making.
In this post, we’ll see how augmented reality in manufacturing industry is driving operational efficiency along with its benefits and use cases.
What are the Benefits of AR for Manufacturing Industry?
Manufacturers are replacing manual processes with automation via AR to keep up with the competitive manufacturing industry. It provides many benefits for a business’s bottom-line operations, like digital instruction, remote repairing, quality assurance, and much more.
We listed down numerous benefits AR brings to the manufacturing sector.
Scroll down to read them!
Training and upskilling
Training and upskilling with AR approach saves time, cost, and manpower.
Training fresh employees is still an uphill task, especially manually. And since there’s a lot of skill gap in manufacturing industry, you can’t skip the training process either. However, you can leverage AR solutions for manufacturing that helps overcome the training and upskilling challenges.
Training newcomers and upskilling the experienced ones are exciting with AR-powered models. These AR-powered models assist beginners in learning manufacturing procedures, protocols, and tools. 3D models explain every little detail, letting beginners understand the overall process without making mistakes.
Oral instructions are pretty hard to understand, depending on who’s training. While written instructions often lack updates. In that case, Digital instructions allow standardizing training for employees. Manual guides and manpower are replaced with updated AR audios, visuals, and interactive 3D models, significantly reducing time, error, and burden on the instructor.
AR instructions guide users directly to the workspace, explaining one step at a time. Furthermore, digital instruction ensures it provides the same information at every workstation.
Product Design and Development
Inborn with a dynamic nature, AR helps create digital product designs without even needing to create them physically unless it is finalized. It makes the whole manufacturing process, especially pairing it with other prototyping models, simple and easy to access.
Arguably the most significant benefit AR offers is the opportunity to test product ideas with their simplest versions within no time and with some degree of real-world fidelity.
Augmented reality in manufacturing gives a digital life to products which helps in understanding them better without any time lag.
Quality Assurance (QA)
AR-powered Quality Assurance helps engineers know about product defects in no time. Rigorous QA tests are run to identify potential and minor product issues and sort them out quickly. Also, you can incorporate quick QA inspections at any time. A combo of QA and human vision ensures that error-free products are developed.
Quality Assurance engineers analyze the product with AR glasses. IoT sensors in a product generate details on whether it meets standard quality constraints. Also, it reduces inspection time.
Porsche, the market leader in automobile manufacturing, is known for making fault-free vehicles. To maintain its reputation worldwide, Porsche has a new initiative known as Porsche Production 4.0 — leveraging the power of augmented reality. It allows robots to perform daily repetitive tasks along with an AR-powered App that ensures its quality control protocols to the next level.
You always need adjustments for the type of work you do, however. It depends on your ergonomic needs. Simply put, these are your physical, cognitive, and organizational needs that impact how you interact while working.
Because augmented reality shows digital overlays onto the surfaces you workaround, they can be adjusted to your needs. For instance, AR digital instructions can be tailored within minutes, according to your requirement. Although visual and audio elements are necessary and require a little text, you can switch the language of the instructions. Furthermore, it helps you understand them better since it offers text in multiple languages.
Manual and Augmented Data Processes
With AR solutions for manufacturing, you can access manual processes and automated data at the same time. Augmentation makes both methods work together, but manufacturers rarely collect new data from manual processes.
AR technology continuously collects cycle times and defects, adding more minute points of reference. Furthermore, both processes offer a broader and better picture of the manufacturing process with on-spot error detection, tracking of step times, and real-time operational metrics.
Remote Repairing and Maintenance
Remote repairing with AR is a boon for industries — saving time and costs for manufacturers. AR offers an interactive environment where you can see the actual object with its augmented digital components. You can easily analyze where maintenance is needed and which tools are required, along with digital AR instructions to complete the task.
Lockheed Martin, a Global Security and Aerospace Manufacturing company, shared their results after using AR in their assembling processes, explaining that it reduced the time required to interpret instructions by 95 %, overall training by 85 %, and productivity increased by more than 40%.
A clear visual representation of what’s happening with the machine and its usage history in AR tags makes it easier to understand and tackle unwanted disruptions.
Moreover, technicians no longer have to go out in the field. They can fix the issues remotely With AR-powered visual assistance and collaboration. It results in lesser breakdowns, reduced downtime, and higher first-time fixes while enhancing customer satisfaction.
The benefits of AR for manufacturing are enormous, inciting manufacturing sector to take its advantage to the fullest.
Application of AR in Manufacturing
There are immense applications of Augmented reality still waiting to be explored by the manufacturing industry.
Visualization and Prototyping
The prototyping revolution is already here with robust augmented reality.
Bringing products to life – AR allows you to pull the idea from your mind to screen and drop it into the real world at full scale. You can see it within its actual context of use. For instance, you can walk around or within it without physical presence and get a better idea of its tangible benefits.
Also, AR annotations offer a more powerful idea of the product’s features, specifications, modifications, and operations to get it known more deeply.
AR-powered prototyping shortens the feedback and review process. Along these, it makes faster iterations while minimizing costs.
Modern manufacturing demands to put up hundreds of thousands of product parts precisely and quickly. It requires a new assembly, whether manufacturing a huge product like a jet engine or a tiny device like a smartphone.
AR’s application in manufacturing helps you add insights to a product’s assembly with AR sensors and data analysis capabilities.
AR depth sensors, motion sensors, and cameras simplify the product’s complex assembly by explaining to you which part of a product is required to fits in which place with real-time, hands-free, and voice-controlled instructions. Optical and see-through video approaches are commonly used to guide engineers in complex assembly operations.
This on-the-site task guidance helps decrease training time and minimize assembly errors.
Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)
PLM manages a product’s lifecycle, from design and manufacturing to sales and services. The whole product life cycle can be equivocated with Augmented Reality.
You can build multiple use cases to test the product’s efficiency and choose the right fit according to business needs.
Moreover, a combo of AR with 3D modeling allows retrospective modification of retired spare parts. You can purchase them in case the retired ones are not available anymore.
Augmented reality in manufacturing is changing the industry’s facet from traditional to modern. The cutting-edge AR technology notably makes manufacturing processes swifter and more sustainable.
Top Use cases of AR in Manufacturing Industry
Amid industry-wide skills gap issues and an ever-changing work environment, the manufacturing industry is now looking to augmented reality to increase its operational efficiency and productivity and enrich the overall employee experience.
AR in Automotive Manufacturing
Indeed, we can say that AR has now entered the automobile industry, helping you in guided and efficient repair and maintenance processes. Market leaders in automotive industry, such as BMW, Porsche, and Mercedes, have already incorporated AR-powered features in their manufacturing processes and are quite happy with the ROI indicators.
AR can change the driver’s situational awareness with HUDs (Head-up displays). Unlike traditional HUDs, graphics are placed directly in the driver’s line of sight, interacting with and augmenting real-world objects.
Moreover, augmented reality transforms many facets of automotive sectors, such as showrooms, prototyping, car assembly, and maintenance.
AR in Aerospace and Defense Manufacturing
Aerospace and defense is always a mission-critical industry. We have witnessed the industry’s challenges in meeting safety regulations. The combination of highly complex processes, cost, and a need for greater accuracy and safety of eventual cargo brought powerful augmented reality to aerospace manufacturing.
NASA is utilizing AR technology developed by Lockheed Martin to speed up the construction of the Orion spacecraft. Furthermore, Boeing is improving its assembly process with AR glasses. These glasses help technicians assist them during conception and routine aircraft maintenance.
AR helps aerospace manufacturing teams work smarter and transfer training knowledge efficiently. They are leveraging AR to investigate and address technical issues such as wiring issues, design challenges, etc.
AR in Electronics Manufacturing
The electronic industry has always been at the vanguard of technology adoption, undeniably. Whether at the consumer or industrial level, electronic manufacturing is getting a reboot right after the inception of AR and VR.
AR is breathing new life into electronics manufacturing — solving the industry’s challenging issues, such as fitting electronic packages into unconventional shapes and ensuring circuit connections work properly. Also, Augmented reality reduces the tedious processes of product placement and route.
AR in Logistics
AR is reshaping the logistics industry — helping logistics companies streamline daily warehouse operations, transportation, and delivery processes.
Building and designing a warehouse space is crucial. Apart from storing the huge number of goods, inspection, repairing, and dispatching activities also happen there. So, it must be built and organized to get maximum efficiency. AR helps you visualize warehouse design and layout with 3D models. You can make necessary adjustments without spending more budget on it.
The German logistic company DHL rolled out an AR-powered manufacturing app in 2015. The app is featured with Google Glass, offering workers the best navigation solutions for inventory management. It helps workers to reach the correct aisle and shelf for the packages they’ve been assigned.
DHL successfully implemented Augmented reality in manufacturing to make its workers’ jobs easier while increasing customer satisfaction rates.
Summing up the Future of AR in Manufacturing
Amid industry-wide skills gap problems and technological advancements, there’s no perfect solution than integrating Augmented Reality in manufacturing industry. Besides driving operational efficiency and enriching users with immersive experiences, it also bridges individuals’ knowledge and skill gap.
As the advancements in manufacturing sector continue, tomorrow’s workforce must develop and hone new skills right now – and AR technology is making that possible.
Discover more ways to use Augmented reality for product development with our top-notch AR services and solutions.