Augmented Reality: more efficient and safer manufacturing

Augmented reality has been on the market for a while, but there are still companies that don’t know how to use it in their business. We realize that there are many doubts about the concept and applicability of the technology.

In the business environment, perhaps it is the trade shows industry that has helped the most to increase the popularity of AR. In a more personal context, after the Pokemón Go fever, augmented reality became more present with filters on social networks (as in Instagram stories), in addition to, of course, applicability in the decoration sector (Ikea is a classic example).

AR App – Pokemon Go

But this technology is also a big hit in manufacturing, as is the case of the automotive industry. So, keep on reading and we’ll show you how augmented reality goes beyond entertainment and can add a lot of value to the manufacturing industry!

Augmented Reality in Manufacturing

Imagine a world in which relevant information coexists with our reality. In this case, this information materializes in 3D in front of us. This is what AR does and thus the entire industrial ecosystem can be transformed, such as:

1. Assembly Process

Today’s manufacturing process brings together dozens of components that must be assembled in a sequence. Each new product has its specific assembly instructions. This applies to smartphones, for example, as well as to cars.

PDF instructions make assembly work more complicated. In addition to being difficult to understand, there is the fact that operators need to divide their attention between reading, understanding and application.

AR App – Product Configurator – Develop by Signia

With augmented reality, the learning process is all visual. This is because, instead of using a static document, AR instructions are visible all the time in the assemblers’ field of view. Everything can be available in an augmented reality glasses, as is the case with the HoloLens (Microsoft) used by Volvo.

2. Safety Training

In manufacturing, one of the problems with having inexperienced people on the shop floor is that they are not familiar with the protocols, equipment and procedures necessary to ensure their own safety.  Not to mention that the constantly evolving technology, added to the variety of equipment types and their complexities, ends up being the main challenges faced by professionals.

This scenario can turn training programs more comprehensive, innovative, scalable, and easy-to-understand, along with making it easier for employees to stay up-to-date. Using the automotive industry as an example, the way they handle large and/or complex parts and equipment can be dangerous, therefore training can be costly.

With augmented reality apps and devices,  employees can be trained, informed  and protected at all times, without wasting additional resources.

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has partnered with Bosch using the software REFLEKT ONE  – or BOSCH CAP –  for the development of an application that provides a kind of  “X-ray” view of the Range Rover Sport dashboard. Through this technology, technicians in training can see everything behind the panels without having to remove it and reinstall it.

3. Product Design and Development

Prototyping and design processes require resources and can take up time that most industries in this competitive environment don’t have. In addition, they require several revisions and a long path of communication shuttle between the parties involved. To make matters worse, by the time everything arrives in production and manufacturing, other revisions happen before production is finally executed.

AR significantly reduces the time spent in this process, simplifying collaboration and communication between the parties, as well as ensuring that everything is aligned in the right way. Imagine, for example, if a director or executive could see the actual product being designed and built in real-time through AR. They could give feedback and provide guidance that would eliminate the comings and goings that many conceptual systems require, as well as the entire decision-making process would be accelerated.

German company Thyssenkrupp uses HoloLens (Microsoft) in the design of products and in the development of mobility solutions. The company has incorporated AR technology to make the design process more personal for customers and reduce response time.

4. Simplified Logistics

Here we talk especially about the organization of warehouses where employees must perform various tasks to manage orders and perform regular activities. An example: When an order is received, the operator checks information, searches for products, reports the data, takes the items to the loading dock, and signs the order. What we describe is very simplified, but it already gives an idea of how much a process, which is simple to complete, ends up taking an unnecessary amount of time because it is something very manual.

However, with augmented reality these same employees could access a system that tells them exactly where the products and goods are, allowing them to work at a much faster rate. DHL has been doing something like that.

As reported here, “the pickers (operators)  are equipped with advanced smart glasses that visually display where each harvested item needs to be placed in the cart. Vision Picking allows you to collect orders hands-free at a faster pace, along with reduced error rates.”

5. Maintenance

Now, imagine if a maintenance team could see exactly what equipment and hardware need adjustments, without having to disassemble an entire machine to find the problem.

Augmented reality enhances the field of view with digital information superimposed in real-time. In other words, the technician can get information and even a  walkthrough on how to, for example,  repair a machine.

This way, AR would enable faster repair and response times, end guesses, and reduce the number of malfunctions and human errors.

In addition to everything that has been explained here, augmented reality has great potential for decision making in the industry. In this article on our InSights we explain it better.

Wrapping up, to learn even more about augmented reality, be sure to check out some of our AR project cases!

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