In the manufacturing industry, every process step is critical. Even the slightest mistake in layout or design can cost a company time and money. No need to panic, though. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are here and ready to be used right now. Because of their remarkable ability to simulate anything, these technologies are beneficial to businesses. However, many manufacturing firms have not yet fully appreciated their transformative potential across all industries. How, then, are AR & VR going to upend manufacturing? What’s the point of using them in the industry?
Industrial AR & VR are necessary
Both AR & VR hold a lot of promise. Many people believe that AR will surpass VR in popularity in the future. It is because AR can seamlessly blend into the real world. As a result, it has the power to transform the manufacturing sector completely.
Additionally, the number of AR devices shipped will increase 40-fold between 2019 and 2023. The AR market will grow at a faster pace than the VR market. Even though these innovations have only recently begun to spread, the future looks bright. According to these estimates, AR technology spending will reach €70 billion by 2022. As a result, these new technologies have the potential to have a profound impact on virtually every aspect of our lives.
Technology companies usually identify applications like these when considering the potential role of AR & VR in their business.
VR for multi-person design collaboration
AR for the development of manufacturing processes
Real-time assembly instructions with AR
Use of VR to detect interference in complex assemblies
AR to be used in personnel training
Customer relationship management (CRM) with AR
Tackling emergencies with VR
Remote inspection of products by VR/AR
Some of these applications are described as follows:
Most people have had the unpleasant experience of being shown a sales slide presentation that was neither entertaining nor effective. The information is retained and understood more deeply by prospects and customers when they are actively involved in the process. Touch applications on iPads and other large touch devices at trade shows and the web have proven this. Additionally, users engage on two different dimensions besides sensory interaction (such as, touch, visual and even auditory), including intellectual and emotional dimensions (the information exchanged is valuable and relevant).
An advanced form of interaction is immersion, where the natural and digital worlds are seamlessly blended. When using AR, users see digital objects superimposed on their real-time view of the physical space around them. Google Glass, Meta and HoloLens are a few examples of wearable devices that display data on a transparent glass screen. Smartphone and tablet cameras can show the physical space, while AR applications place digital objects or data in that space at a particular location.
If one uses VR, he/she puts on a headset and loses his/her peripheral vision, which allows him/her to look around from any angle. The person can also move around in this virtual world and interact with its objects.
Bridging the gap in skills with AR
Creating traditional training material requires a lot of time and effort. As a result, data quickly becomes obsolete, and it must be manually updated regularly. AR has the potential to solve these issues:
AR aids in the efficient capturing of knowledge. Skilled engineers can create AR experiences passively instead of spending time on documentation.
It captures audio and visual cues with advanced sensors & computer vision. These can serve as a record of factory locations and processes. Controls engineers can use a headset to perform any task while talking themselves through the process. Apart from that, training people is much simpler and less expensive than using traditional methods.
AR also has the potential to bridge the skills gap by connecting remote experts with manufacturing facilities. Interactive and visual communication aid workers in completing any task quickly and efficiently. With expert guidance, they can complete previously unachievable tasks or correct a problem. Flexibility is an option for everyone.
VR for emergency situations – Preparation & training
Even though manufacturing places a high value on training, the employees’ attitudes are important, and they must be flexible and adaptable in the face of any situation. Traditional training methods downplay the significance of this. The following industries place a high value on safety:
Process industries require operators and control engineers to be flexible & ready for anything. Runaway reactions, chemical leaks and even explosions can occur. Shutdowns and restarts, for example, may happen once a year.
Operators must be ready for sudden product changes or equipment upgrades in discrete and hybrid manufacturing. Emergencies call for quick action to reduce risks, and it requires that they are well-prepared.
VR can make all the difference in this situation. By providing virtual environments for practising, it can add enormous value to the manufacturing industry. An immersive digital twin feature can assist control engineers in practising emergency response situations by allowing them to role play. In addition to learning how different responses can impact operations, they can respond to these situations. When the physical environment isn’t available, a digital twin comes in handy for training operators. Employees can also practice regardless of whether the facility is still under construction or if they are in a remote location for any reason.
Remote monitoring and maintenance
With AR and VR, inspection time can be reduced and errors can be detected more quickly. Companies like Airbus, for example, have implemented Augmented Reality technology to boost productivity. AR aids the department’s installation and inspection departments in improving quality control. An image of a natural system is superimposed over a digital mock-up created with the Supply Augmented Reality Tool (SART). It is for locating & replacing or customising any broken or malfunctioning components.
Another AR and VR feature is remote inspection. These safety inspections and routine maintenance can be performed virtually by specialists who have received the appropriate training. It’s a more efficient and less expensive method. Besides, remote inspections allow the early detection of issues before they become significant problems and cause a disaster. It can reduce the manufacturing time and the number of resources used.
The combined use of AR & VR technologies can boost manufacturing companies’ productivity and efficiency. They come with a slew of advantages. AR and VR are here to stay, whether to save money on training or help people retain more of what they learn.