Author: Tronserve admin
Saturday 31st July 2021 06:25 AM
Augmented Reality and the Smart Factory
Characterized by a fusion of technologies that blur the lines between the physical and digital, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is growing throughout the manufacturing world. As a component of this revolution, an increasing number of suppliers are using augmented reality (AR) to boost operations in workforce training and equipment maintenance. AR is a technologically enhanced version of reality created by using technology to overlay digital information on an image of something being viewed through a device, such as smart goggles or a smartphone camera. The goggles are commonly voice-controlled, leaving wearers with both hands free.
Statista estimates the AR market was worth $5.91 billion in 2018 and that it will go to more than $198.7 billion by 2025. The technology naturally has a stronghold in the video games and entertainment sector, but a growing number of manufacturing suppliers, including large automated equipment manufacturers, are using the technology to provide their employees and customers with virtual hands-on instruction for operating machinery, troubleshooting and conducting repairs. Indeed, 10 percent of the Fortune 500 companies have already initiated exploring shopping and operation applications for AR. Gartner anticipate that by 2020, 20 percent of large enterprises will evaluate and adopt augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality solutions as part of their digital transformation strategy.
Training and Maintenance
The “model-based digital twin” is an increasingly popular use for AR technology in manufacturing. The digital twin is a identical copy of the physical asset, providing a dynamic, self-teaching model to optimize performance in conjunction with an Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) platform. The mixture of machine learning and physics-based modeling enables engineers to create entire AR experiences that show technicians how to service factory floor machines. Using the digital twin, a technician can repair a faulty device in record time and with greater accuracy.
In-person training can be expensive and needs that the equipment be readily available for student training. Companies can use AR tools to provide real-time visual guidance and can associate students with teachers without the cost and logistics of getting everyone in the same room. For example, Bosch Rexroth, an international provider of power units and controls used in manufacturing, uses an AR-enhanced visualization called Hägglunds InSight Live to demonstrate the design and capabilities of its smart, connected CytroPac hydraulic power unit. The AR application enables customers to see 3-D representations of the unit’s internal pump and cooling options in multiple configurations and how the subsystems fit together.
Technicians can also take advantage of smart goggles’ video and photo recording abilities to keep track of progress and keep tabs on errors. Goggles can capture hands-free photos in seconds, and those images can be submitted to off-site teams for troubleshooting help.
Incorporating AR into industrial processes has confirmed to boost worker productivity. As an example, GE healthcare warehouse workers use Skylight, an industrial augmented reality application platform from Upskill, to kit and completely pick list orders up to 46 percent faster. Upskill gives augmented reality software for the industrial workforce, and it boasts an regular worker performance boost of 32 percent for Skylight customers.
In GE’s application, Skylight connects to warehouse systems to have real-time information on an item location by connecting to smart warehouse systems. It then gives workers easy-to-read details for where to get items throughout the building. The prior paper-based process, where workers flipped through printed orders to look for parts and waded through depleted stock locations, is now effective and digitized.
In another use case, Lockheed Martin used Microsoft HoloLens headsets to view holographic renderings of an aircraft’s parts and the manual on how exactly to build them. Microsoft HoloLens offers mixed reality solutions to boost communication and improve efficiency. The AR technology decreased assembly time by 30 percent, and digitizing the work-flow helped Lockheed Martin enhance engineering efficiency to 96 percent.
Evaluating the Investment
These case studies make a substantial argument for AR’s ability to improve manufacturing operations, but manufacturers still may question if augmented reality is worth the investment. Companies considering investing in AR have got to be strategic, approaching the opportunity by establishing the bottom-line value first. Approaching digital with a clear vision and a phased roadmap, and with a focused ecosystem of technology partners may help maximize the gain on investment in new technology. Workforce training and equipment maintenance applications for AR have the potential to help companies get ahead of the capabilities gap and build the culture to sustain that lead.
This article is originally posted on manufacturing.net