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Augmented Reality is a fantastic technology transforming the world of Manufacturing. If you happen to be a manufacturing leader or professional and your role is to manage production, maintenance, quality, safety, reliability or product development, this piece begs your attention.

My mission here is to help you see how the manufacturing world can unleash the potential of AR for its benefit. Manufacturing’s augmented reality solutions promise to improve your organisation’s operational, safety, environmental, and financial performance. Facilities will eventually become intelligent factories powered by the knowledge and intelligence generated from the aggregation and analysis of data generated from smart devices.

Augmented Reality is one of the key technologies driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution, more popularly known as Industry 4.0. Companies must integrate these technologies into their operations to remain operational and profitable in the decades to come.

Augmented Reality enables the overlay of relevant information on smartphones or tablets. This overlay can also be provided through wearables such as AR goggles.

The intent here is to provide information and guidance that helps enhance employee competence and confidence to enable personnel to execute their tasks more efficiently.

Such enhancements eventually deliver improved production, safety and productivity metrics that drive manufacturing organisations towards top quartile performance. As a result, companies that adopt AR would finally ace every industry benchmark with considerable ease.

In most established companies, one would often hear this, particularly when change is introduced. “We’ve always done this way and it’s just going to be okay. Why change things now! Change is always tricky and implementing disruptive technologies such as AR makes change management even more challenging.

However, a closer look will reveal that Augmented Reality in Manufacturing makes operations more accessible and safer and would be appreciated by the same group of employees in due course of time. Manufacturing leaders must take home this message to the employees through engagement sessions and town hall meetings. Implementation is successful only when the rank and file of an organisation are engaged and supportive.
 

The best uses for Augmented Reality in Manufacturing

AR in manufacturing applications are being designed to assist and enable collaboration between various groups involved in Manufacturing. It is well known that human error is the leading cause of many accidents and plant downtime. The frequency and consequences of such errors can be significantly minimised by deploying AR solutions. Here are a few exciting and practical use cases.
 

Augmented Reality in Equipment Assembly Processes

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Let’s take the example of an assembly line worker who needs to assemble equipment or devices in a specific sequence using the right components. Errors made during this process will lead to identified failures during quality control inspections. This leads to wastage, low productivity and higher costs.

AR applications deployed using an AR goggle alerts the operator to perform the assembly correctly based on standard operating procedures established by the company. There is immediate guidance and rectification. Errors are also common when there is time pressure or stress due to external factors.

These factors are evident in many workplaces and cannot be easily eliminated. Therefore, technologies such as AR need to be adopted to assist and oversee technicians engaged in routine tasks. Such AR solutions for Manufacturing deliver operational discipline, ensuring all production tasks are done right every time. This is a massive benefit across manufacturing industries that often struggle to address human factors issues effectively.  
 

AR in Equipment Maintenance and Repair

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Maintenance is another area where we can identify augmented reality use cases in manufacturing industries. Equipment issues must be fixed quickly and correctly. Plant experience further downtime due to incorrect maintenance work leading to rework. The spares necessary for the rework may not be available on hand, leading to enormous charges for urgent delivery.

Therefore, correct performing maintenance is critical. This situation is amplified by the unavailability of personnel who have the expertise to resolve these issues, particularly in complex equipment such as multistage compressors, turbines, pumps, motors etc. Bringing such OEM specialists can be expensive and time-consuming in this pandemic era.

Fortunately, AR has a way to help companies in this scenario. Augmented Reality helps provide remote assistance from experts anywhere in the world who can overlay specific instructions on performing critical tasks and verifying them from afar. Custom-built applications can also deliver essential support even without an expert present through a series of checks.

The data obtained can be reviewed and advised upon. What is more, multiple experts can participate in a troubleshooting session and arrive at solutions more quickly. AR can be integrated with business applications such as SAP, Maximo, etc., which would indicate the availability of spares accurately without additional effort.
 

Augmented Reality Training in Equipment Preparation 

Equipment Preparation is another area. Many accidents happen in refineries and chemical plants when equipment taken for maintenance is returned to service. Since these facilities handle significant hazardous material inventories, incorrect actions could lead to exposure and long term health effects.

Augmented reality manufacturing training solutions help guide operators on the proper steps needed to ensure equipment is safely deinventoried and decontaminated with all energy sources positively isolated before handing over equipment for repairs. These operations, however simple, do result in human errors. AR solutions designed for each piece of equipment will eliminate these issues, ensuring operational discipline.
 

Augmented Reality Strategies in Equipment Quality Check

Ensuring product quality is another significant effort in all manufacturing operations. The necessary attention to detail helps workers churn out quality products. Proper sampling and quality verification checks can be driven using AR with tools designed to guide technicians and engineers to consistently and accurately perform all the checks necessary before it’s certified for shipping and packaging.

These use cases are just the tip of a vast iceberg of applications that Augmented Reality can do for the manufacturing industry. A little bit of diving is required to reveal what lies beneath the surface of what AR truly offers. Solution providers such as Fusion VR are backed with the necessary technical expertise and industry domain experience to deliver comprehensive and sustainable solutions for the manufacturing industry.

Our expertise enables you to dive deep and help give a competitive advantage by turning existing facilities into intelligent factories that will succeed in today’s knowledge-driven economy.