Despite the pandemic and interim global slowdown, the manufacturing industry is thriving on the path of revival. An IHS Markit study shows that India’s manufacturing PMI for September increased from 52.3 in August 2021 to 53.7 points. In addition, Trading Economics forecasts the sector to touch 55.0 points by the end of this quarter. The growth can be partly attributed to the adoption of digitalisation since the onset of COVID-19. While only 10% of industrial enterprises adopted digitalisation in 2020, industries have been picking pace when it comes to using technology to replace repetitive, tedious work on the shop floor. It is now expected that by 2025, over 50% of industrial enterprises will make IIoT-based platforms a part of their enterprises.
While various digital technologies are making their way into the industry, XR, aka extended reality displays the potential to offer plenty of value to the manufacturing sector. An amalgamation of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (MR), XR is poised to surge into a $125 billion market in 2026 from its current market valuation of $33 billion, as per a Markets and Markets study.
The gaming industry is considered the biggest consumer of XR – a classic example being the game Pokémon Go. Although gamers had a comparatively easier learning curve than what the manufacturers could have, the technology can help the industry streamline its complex assembly, maintenance process, logistics, safety training, etc. For instance, Boeing improved the dynamics of its complex assembly system by introducing smart glasses, which provides voice commands and information that reduced the company’s wiring production time by 25% and the error rate to near nil.
Besides lack of general awareness and the Indian market’s rather reluctance to adopt new technologies without international use cases, delay in data readiness and understanding its potential for quick ROI have been few reasons why XR has been limited to only the gaming and entertainment industry so far. But now, the benefits incurred by the early adopters of the technology, such as Siemens, Boeing, Airbus, Ford, Volkswagen, among others, are setting a key trend for the manufacturing sector throughout.
The growing competition in the manufacturing sector calls for innovation such as XR. The technology isn’t just a medium of entertainment but also a mode of collaboration. It has the potential to improve ones manufacturing floor and ensure effective end-to-end collaboration throughout. Despite the slow growth in terms of technology adoption, India can catch up, similar to how it picked up the pace while adopting other Industry 4.0 technologies and grow manifolds faster.