The manufacturing sector deals with high volumes, high capacity, and high turnovers. The industry is in dire need of Skilled labor and sadly out of approximately 3.4 million manufacturing jobs which will become available over the next 10 years, it is estimated that only 1.4 million will be filled.
Which leads to an interesting question, how can we use Augmented Reality (AR) in manufacturing, in order to solve those problems?
1. Improving Designs
Using the promise of augmented reality, the Ford Motor Company was able to use this technology in their manufacturing workflow to overhaul their design process. At the very center of this change is the Microsoft HoloLens Augmented Reality headset.
Using this device, Ford’s design teams could see in real-time what their design choices would look like.
Doing this was a diversion from the normal design philosophy the design team worked with but the rewards were immense. From more creative designs to faster turn around time. The technology has become indispensable and a major tool in the companies design arsenal.
Yet there is one component of AR that the team is fascinated with. This is the ability to comment n AR. This means that you can directly see a change and view the comments of what was going on with a change. And let others present or in remote locations see the idea or concept behind a change.
2. On the Assembly Floor
Imagine having to put together a very large and complex piece of machinery, with hours of labor and constant reference to schematics and designs just to make sure you are on the right track and everything fits as it should.
Take that same scenario and replace the schematics and blueprints with an Augmented overlay of the production parts directly on the assembly floor. What you have now is an assistant that allows you to work faster and indicates every step needed to complete each component assembly. This is the power of efficiency theta AR glasses offer.
This can be accomplished with the Vuzix smart glasses. They act as an instructor on-the-go. Ensure everyone receives the same detailed instructions for tasks, resulting in higher quality across the board
3. Intensive training
As far as augmented reality applications in manufacturing go, employee training is where the technology excels with even greater force.
It is expensive and sometimes even dangerous to have unskilled worked use certain types of equipment. But there was no other way around this previously because that very equipment is what the unskilled staff needs to train on to become skilled labor.
Hence, you had a percentage of training-related injuries and sometimes even fatalities. But AR is able to mitigate some of these risks. Using AR glasses in a training regiment lets the trainee always have a safety indicator plus can ma out key points that should not be overlooked during the device operations.
The technology goes even further by allowing trainees to understand the proper working order of machinery they use and in some cases, it can instruct them on what to do to increase efficiency. But it’s not just new staff that can benefit from this. Existing staff can also use AR to train in new types of equipment and procedures.
How do you make sure that every device, product or machinery that you manufacture reaches a certain standard?
The answer is to go through each one off the production line with a fine-tooth comb. Serious manufacturers understand that the quality of their finished product is a reflection of their brand and dedication to their customers. Hence, quality assurance is an integral part of the production process.
With instructions displayed step by step, there is a reduced error rate for tasks. This real-time checklist, combined with video recording, allows for thorough quality assurance. Companies like Porsche are using AR for just this purpose.
The solution employs Augmented Reality headgear and the cloud, as employees use tablets to compare how an already finished car matches up to the initial design before it is sent out to the client. Such an augmented reality manufacturing solution saves costs and time, improves accuracy, and allows companies to meet high-quality standards.
Last but not least we have the use of AR glasses in the field of maintenance.
Nothing beats having a blueprint overlaid against the component part or section you are running maintenance on.
Augmented Reality allows for real-time superimposed digital information to users hence enhancing their field of view. This allows users to make use of information about an asset or to access step by step instructions on how to repair an asset while actually working with that asset.
The applications of AR in maintenance have a great deal of potential. AR provides users with the ability to receive information about specific assets instantly. There is also the added advantage of being able to use remote assistance to tackle problems that require non-present expert help.
Not only can the remote assistance see all that you can see but will be able to speed up the maintenance time.
It’s no doubt that AR has made its way into the manufacturing space. The question now is how do you intend to take advantage of it? But an even more prominent question is, can you afford not to?