Augmented reality (AR) has shifted to a serious utility that businesses are using to improve the customer experience and boost the bottom line. In the era of Industry 4.0, many manufacturers are turning to various kinds of digital solutions to maximize production in an ever-increasingly competitive market. As a result, businesses have begun incorporating AR in their operations, fostering increased productivity, efficiency, workplace safety, as well as other massive benefits.
As businesses continue to identify more and more industrial use cases for augmented reality, it will become increasingly important for manufacturers to adopt these technologies to experience the benefits to productivity and efficiency across their operations. According to Statista, enterprise spending on AR glasses is forecasted to grow from $2 billion in 2021 to over $12 billion in 2024 with significant adoption of mobile AR across both consumer and enterprise segments.
Benefits of augmented reality in manufacturing
Embracing augmented reality offers plenty of benefits for manufacturing businesses that apply the technology properly. These benefits include:
Optimized product development: augmented reality gives manufacturers the ability to project 3D images through wearables, enabling product designers and key stakeholders to see what the final product will look like when it rolls off the production line.
Simplification of complex processes: most manufacturing processes are made up of a series of complex steps that must be executed correctly in order to produce the finished product. Augmented reality makes following these complex processes easier as it can be used to guide operators, allowing employees to see how the process is done in their physical space.
Easier troubleshooting on the shop floor: augmented reality can be used to supplement work instructions and maintenance docs to superimpose images on equipment, showing detailed, step-by-step instructions and implement corrective measures. Wearable AR devices are easily connected via the cloud, allowing verified remote access and collaboration. For example, off-site engineers can seamlessly communicate with operators at the factory whenever issues occur, enabling on-site personnel to address mechanical issues quickly and efficiently.
Lower operation costs: optimized product development, streamlined assembly processes, and easier troubleshooting ultimately reduce the amount of waste caused by these respective departments.
To stay competitive, leading manufacturers continue to bring in automation to handle simple, repetitive tasks and track data. Moving beyond these silos and empowering factories with augmentation, data, and complex problem-solving increases efficiency and productivity overall.
4 Uses Cases of AR in Manufacturing
Training & Upskilling - Digital AR work instructions scale to meet businesses where they are, whether they need to train at the individual, factory, or enterprise level. A click of a button easily switches programs, providing production training for individuals or large groups. These programs easily adapt to any skill level, remaining inclusive for someone with little manufacturing background or someone with 30+ years of experience. Connected systems update simultaneously, ensuring no lapse in information. Plus, digital work instructions ensure the information is the same at every workstation.
Logistics - Businesses in the manufacturing sector need to go through a long and tedious process for order fulfillment and warehouse organization. When an order comes in, an employee has to manually check relevant information, find products, scan products, report data, deliver products to the loading dock, and sign off the order. AR can streamline the entire logistics process. With the deployment of AR in manufacturing, employees can access a connected system that shows them the exact location of products. AR-based systems can also be used to scan necessary information, allowing employees to quickly find and retrieve products, and deliver them to the loading dock.
Product Design - The conventional product design process is extremely lengthy and tedious. Every new product is frequently discussed between concerned parties, and it has to go through multiple revisions. AR can reduce the time required for some of the tasks in this process. For instance, AR glasses or apps can show the product design process in real-time to directors or executives. Concerned teams would receive and implement feedback instantly, speeding up the entire process.
Customer Support - Along with technicians and maintenance personnel, businesses in manufacturing can use AR to assist customers and onsite sales representatives. Companies and their manufacturing partners are now developing virtual and AR-enabled self-service tutorials and guides that help customers find everything they need right at their fingertips.
Many business leaders may feel skeptical about the applications of AR in manufacturing, considering the digital infrastructure required to deploy such solutions. By implementing AR in manufacturing, businesses can reduce production downtime, identify issues instantly, and offer virtual support in real-time. AR-based solutions can speed up manufacturing operations and make them safer for employees. Contact us today to learn how you can use augmented reality to improve your company’s current system.