How Augmented Reality is being used in Today’s Manufacturing Sector to Streamline Assembly

April 27, 2022

By: John Tomblin, Senior Solutions Architect
Tucson Bizz, a division of Sofvue, LLC
Printed with permission of Sofvue, LLC and the author

Augmented Reality (AR) is transforming the planet, and manufacturing is no different. AR offers a more interactive approach in training company personnel, and through its use, provides management and employees a far superior way of learning manufacturing processes, especially when you consider the alternatives of paper documentation, PowerPoints or listening to audio. Although one-on-one in-person training on the manufacturing floor always provides the best training experience, it is not always the most cost effective. (AR) training is transformative, providing better control of what personnel learn, whether direct assembly line manufacturing, quality control, equipment repairs, floor-safety, and warehousing operations.

That said, let’s understand how AR is used in manufacturing in detail.

6 Use Cases of Augmented Reality in Manufacturing
 
Manufacturers can deploy AR in the following areas:

1. Employee Training

Augmented Reality (AR) is extremely helpful in training new employees how to use complex machinery. Through (AR) you can also coach staff on protocols, necessary procedures, and best practices. For example, you can leverage mobile app development in Tucson to create an AR-powered app that provides your employees with documentation, manuals, and a step-by-step guide to assist them in the field.

Manufacturers can also upskill employees by offering complicated technical training using (AR).  For instance, Jaguar Land Rover and Bosch use AR-powered apps to train employees how to locate and install the Range Rover Sport vehicle’s dashboard components.

2. Manage Shop Floor Control (SFC)

It’s virtually impossible to eliminate every foreseeable issue that can occur on a shop floor.  Cases of accidental fires, breakage, parts and components accidently being destroyed, even weather conditions are always close by.  To help mitigate these issues, floor and plant managers need real-time data and information to track what is happening, not only with assembly, but with Just-in-Time (JIT) manufacturing, inventory control, personnel tracking and production, equipment failures, to name just a few.  

With augmented reality, the assembly process, having been defined at a prior point in time, can be used to discover where a process broke, and show a scenario that no one may have considered, and just like AR’s use in showing a surgeon how to set a broken arm, AR can be used to demonstrate the correct steps and procedures of how the manufacturing process works, and what happens when not followed.

3. Improved Logistics

Except in very large facilities where the manufacturing process is machine or (AI) driven, manufacturing personnel must go through an often-times tedious and time-consuming process to achieve order fulfillment.  For example, they have to conduct manual inventory processes, and understand what parts are required for a manufactured product, and at what intervals in the manufacturing process the components are required.  This often includes scanning products using RFID, reporting inventory data, receiving or delivering product or parts to and from the loading bay or docks, and the list goes on.

Using AR headsets, staff can literally walk through a manufacturing facility and visually see different color coded areas where inventory should be, and for what products.  For example, if there’s a widget (X), (Y) and (Z), and widget (Y) is always assembled on Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s, then on those days, staff can walk through a manufacturing facility wearing their AR headset and view, in real-time, where all the parts are located for loading into the manufacturing process for that day, as well as see which floor-equipment required reconfigurations for the day.  

4. Better Design through Augmented Reality

The traditional product design process is time-consuming, involves engineering, proto-typing, user-testing, and host of other factors to take a design from paper to production.  Most designs also require frequent discussions and meetings between concerned parties. That said, using (AR) can greatly improve the design process, both in time saved, as well as during the development of prototypes.

For example, the founders of the “DAQRI” Smart Helmet have developed a helmet that has an array of sensors built into it, along with a computing platform, that provides a visual output that the person wearing the helmet can see, for example, visually seeing real-time temperatures of industrial pipes while working on a production floor.

5. Streamlined Assembly

Most manufacturing companies have to assemble hundreds, and sometimes thousands of components together, often requiring the right set of components be available at the exact spot where assembly is required, and exactly as required by engineering. As a result, even a minor mistake in the assembly could cost hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars, or worse, stop an assembly line altogether. With AR however, you can streamline the assembly process and mitigate the chances of errors. For instance, technicians can view where each component will go in a near-real-time environment, eliminating errors and lowering production time.  

Boeing uses AR glasses to streamline 130 miles of wiring required in its 747-8 Freighter. AR provides its technicians with necessary instructions in the viewfinder, and as a result, Boeing believes they are reducing production time by as much as 25%.

6. Better Customer Support

Manufacturers can use augmented reality to assist customers and onsite sales representatives as well, being able to show customers how something will look or fit, such as a new stove in the kitchen or a new pool in the backyard. For example, an AR-powered app can display the components and features of products (or machines), helping customers better understand the item.

Conclusion

In the grand scheme of time, augmented reality is still in its infancy, but that’s changing quickly. In the coming decade, AR will mature, and as businesses and technology providers begin to understand how the technology can improve the manufacturing and production process, you will see more applications come into the marketplace. Big players and Wall Street money have already started investing in AR to disrupt the marketplace, and over time, you can expect AR to become mainstream and inexpensive.

Are you or your company considering an augmented reality solution for your business, or are you looking for ways to improve company productivity with a web-based application or mobile apps? Tucson Bizz has extensive experience designing and creating custom mobile apps for manufacturers of all sizes. To learn more about our company, give us a call at 623-845-2747.

Source Links:

LINK: https://www.archdaily.com/914501/9-augmented-reality-technologies-for-architecture-and-construction

LINK: https://www.automation.com/en-us/articles/january-2022/augmented-reality-becomes-authentic-reality

 

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