The ability of augmented reality to overlay digital information onto the real world has the potential to revolutionise manufacturing from assembly in the factory to service in the field.
The physical environment around us has a whole lot of information that is difficult to replicate on a computer. However, dramatic advances in augmented reality (AR) and its ability to overlay digital information onto the real world are making this information accessible and usable in powerful new ways.
The Indian manufacturing sector has traditionally been conservative in its adoption of digital technologies but augmented reality's potential to improve quality and reduce costs mean it cannot be ignored. Manufacturers looking to explore the potential of AR can begin by looking at four areas where it can create immediate impact.
Augmented reality is making assembly quicker and smarter by providing assembly line workers with real-time information about the part to be assembled, the assembly location and the assembly operation. Leading vehicle manufacturer Volvo is using Microsoft HoloLens to enable production line workers to digitally view assembly instructions while working to put together parts of the vehicle. Work instructions, associated technical drawings, and even videos from the last person who completed the procedure can be viewed by using these AR glasses.
Augmented reality is helping manufacturing companies train and up-skill technicians on-the-job by having them follow smart instructions through AR-enabled handheld devices. By enabling workers to visualize manuals, instructions, and tips as they hover their handheld device over a piece of equipment, it is helping to prevent breakages caused by misuse as well as workplace accidents.
Augmented reality is creating new paradigms for the maintenance of manufacturing equipment by providing visibility of a machine's status by simply glancing at it. 3D AR graphics provided by solutions like FieldBit are able to project the changes to be made along with all the information and instructions related to the task on the precise location that needs to be worked on. One leading provider of air management systems and equipment is already using such AR technology to guide its technicians on scheduled maintenance procedures.
4. Remote Assistance
Augmented reality is improving field service and reducing operating costs by providing assistance to remote workers. AR solutions are able to pull work orders from a centralised system and send them directly to the smart glasses of the nearest technician. They can then guide the on-location worker with instructions, schematics and help videos as required.
Further, field workers can start a live video call with a remote expert who can guide them through complicated tasks, reducing mean time to resolution and minimising repeated service visits. Dutch telecom leader KPN uses this technology to install and maintain their equipment, providing better customer service as well as reducing work-error rate.