The manufacturing industry has changed at an accelerated pace in recent years due to rapid advancements in technology. One such technology is augmented reality (AR).
AR is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are enhanced by computer-generated sensory input, such as sound or graphics.
AR has a number of potential applications in the manufacturing industry. It can be used for product visualisation, design collaboration, assembly and repair, quality control, and training. AR can also help reduce wastage, improve safety, and increase productivity.
In this article we look at the key topics surrounding the adoption and use of AR and ways in which AR is currently being used in the manufacturing industry.
What is augmented reality
Augmented reality (AR) is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are enhanced by computer-generated sensory input, such as sound or graphics. It has become increasingly popular in recent years, especially in the gaming and entertainment industries.
AR typically consists of two primary components: a user interface, which displays information, and a software program that allows the user to interact with and manipulate the data. Using augmented reality, a person can superimpose graphics, audio, and video onto real-world objects, allowing them to interact with the environment in a new way.
In the manufacturing industry, AR can be used for product design collaboration, assembly and repair, quality control, and training. Augmented reality enables people to see the virtual components of a product within its real-world context, which allows them to better understand how each part fits together and how it works. This can result in a more efficient and effective manufacturing process.
How can augmented reality be used in manufacturing
Augmented reality can be used in virtually any phase of manufacturing. AR technology allows personnel to see a product virtually before it is made, allowing them to see any errors and make corrections before the actual product is built.
In the assembly process, AR can be used to provide step-by-step instructions to the manufacturing worker on the spot. Virtual components can be displayed on the physical environment, allowing workers to compare the actual components with the virtual components to ensure accuracy.
AR is also beneficial when it comes to quality control in manufacturing, as AR technology can detect any quality issues before the product is released into the market. AR can also be used to track the progress of each product and provide a complete history of its manufacture from start to finish.
Finally, AR can be used to provide training to personnel in a variety of ways, from showing them how to safely use a tool or a machine or giving them a tour of a production facility.
Benefits of using augmented reality in manufacturing
The use of augmented reality in the manufacturing industry brings with it a range of advantages, from enhanced safety to improved speed, efficiency, and accuracy. Here are just a few of the main benefits of using AR in manufacturing:
- Improved safety – AR technology can be used to provide step-by-step instructions to personnel, allowing them to safely operate tools and machines. This reduces the risk of human error and results in fewer accidents on the assembly line.
- Enhanced efficiency – By providing personnel with step-by-step instructions, AR helps to speed up the assembly process and ensure accuracy, resulting in a more efficient operation.
- Improved accuracy – AR allows personnel to compare the physical components of a product with virtual components displayed on the physical environment, helping to reduce errors in the manufacturing process.
- Reduction in costs – AR can help to reduce costs associated with manufacturing by reducing wastage, rework and downtime, improved safety, and increased efficiency.
By using augmented reality in the manufacturing process, manufacturers can gain a number of key benefits that will result in improved safety, efficiency, accuracy, and cost savings.
Getting started with augmented reality in manufacturing
The implementation of augmented reality in manufacturing can be a complicated and daunting process, especially if you are starting from scratch. Here are five simple steps to get you started.
- Educate –It is important to first understand the fundamentals of augmented reality in the manufacturing industry. Familiarise yourself with the technology and the benefits it can bring to your organisation. Do research online and attend webinars and seminars to get a firsthand understanding of the basics of augmented reality in the manufacturing industry.
- Research Vendors – Research available vendors and suppliers to determine who can best provide the products and services you need. Look for vendors with good references and a proven track record for success.
- Evaluate a Pilot Program –Once you have chosen a vendor, test the technology with a pilot project. This will give you a good indication of how the technology will work in your specific manufacturing process.
- Implement the Right Technology – After evaluating the pilot program, decide if the augmented reality technology is a good fit for your organisation. There is a range of AR hardware and software available to choose from, so be sure to select the option that best suits your needs.
- Measure Performance – Track KPIs to evaluate the success of your augmented reality initiative. Track progress and share results to understand what is working and where to make improvements.
By following these five steps, you can get started with augmented reality in the manufacturing industry and reap the associated
Planning for success with augmented reality in manufacturing
Now that you’re familiar with augmented reality technology and the benefits it can have in the manufacturing industry, you need to determine where to go from here. The next step is to determine the best way to make a successful transition.
- Make a Business Plan – Develop a business plan that outlines your organisation’s economic objectives, creating an integration and implementation plan, and establishing a road map for the future.
- Design & Development – It’s important to gather the right information to build an augmented reality solution that best suits your organisation’s requirements. Design & development involves researching the best AR hardware and software, prototyping & testing the solution, and managing any potential risks.
- Testing & Deployment – After designing & developing your AR solution, it’s important to test the AR procedures and processes before full deployment. Testing involves prototyping, simulating, and analysing until you’re comfortable with the results.
- Training & Maintenance – Once the augmented reality system has been deployed, organisations need to ensure their employees are trained on its use and understand their responsibilities. This can be done through a combination of e-learning, virtual reality simulations, and hands-on activities. Maintenance should also be done regularly to ensure the system is always running at its optimum capacity.
By following these steps, your organisation can get underway with efforts to make a successful transition to adopting and leveraging augmented reality in the manufacturing industry and maximise the broad range of business and operational benefits AR can offer your bottom line, your customers, and your employees.