Financial and ID Technologies

Industrial applications of augmented reality

03 March 2023
Source: Adobe stock

Industrial companies can benefit from augmented reality (AR) technology engineered to replace ineffective, paper-based training materials with more engaging, immersive experiences for their employees. Companies all around the world, especially those with operations at multiple sites, are rapidly improving their intelligence, speed and efficiency thanks to AR. The success of this solution depends on careful preparation, including the selection of appropriate hardware and software and the consideration of how the new technology will integrate with preexisting procedures and infrastructure. When compared to other breakthroughs in operational technology, the time-to-value of AR is significantly shorter and requires less programming knowledge, depending on the solution.

What is AR?

AR refers to the process of superimposing computer-generated data onto a user's actual surroundings. Users perceive the real world while having created perceptual information superimposed on top of it, in contrast to virtual reality, which produces a completely artificial environment. To utilize AR is to either add new information to a user's view of the world or to alter their perception of the world around them.

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The most notable advantage is the seamless integration of digital and 3D elements with one's perspective of the actual environment. Therefore, by superimposing digital data on a plant worker's real-world perspective with the use of wearable devices or mobile applications, industrial AR has the potential to boost efficiency, safety and output.

Applications of industrial AR

1. Alterations and fixes

The field of maintenance and repair is one of the most exciting opportunities for AR in industry. The technology may eliminate the need for a knowledgeable technician to be on-site to handle maintenance. Anyone with an AR headset may follow along as the expert provides detailed instructions, circling key objects as they go. Equipment operating times, last service dates, probable failure areas and other useful information may be shown in an AR system. The information gained from this can be used in predictive and preventive maintenance. Furthermore, it facilitates quicker problem detection and resolution by operators, thereby minimizing downtime and its related expenses.

2. Training workshops

Although its real-time capabilities are useful, AR may be deployed in situations when human involvement is not required. Manufacturing workers equipped with AR headsets might benefit from prerecorded training sessions. This is helpful for activities that are too complicated to be explained and understood in a simple video or text format. As an added bonus, AR may be used to instruct a large number of people who prefer a more hands-on approach to learning. A single recording of the training module is all that is required, rather than separate recordings for each trainee.

3. Product development and design

Creating a working prototype from an idea may be a lengthy and expensive process. Engineers may develop digital overlays of features to test how they will look next to real-world items using AR. Through the use of this capability, it is possible to see how a finished product will look early in the design process, allowing for lower cost iterations of the final design.

4. Quality check

Quality control is not expected to become fully automated anytime soon since visual examination of items is a crucial stage in maintaining product quality. However, AR can speed up the process by making information readily available, reducing the need for human involvement. The time required to visually evaluate a product can be reduced if a quality control specialist is equipped with AR glasses.

5. Products assembly

By using AR sensors and real-time data analysis tools, workers may obtain deeper understanding of complex activities and save time by doing them with fewer physical interactions. In the case of assembly, this is especially true. Augmented reality systems can superimpose schematics or basic assembly instructions, bringing visual representations of nuts, bolts, wires and part numbers into the line of sight of the worker. This kind of task assistance while on the job has the potential to cut down on training time and improve accuracy throughout assembly.

6. Picking orders

AR has made it possible to quickly and easily acquire information in a warehouse. With this system, workers can easily identify where things are stored and be directed to that part of the warehouse. They will be able to swiftly check stock levels and order pick times on arrival. Since the worker won't have to mentally store or constantly consult a database, productivity will increase.

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By superimposing 3D models, text and other relevant data onto the real environment, AR is revolutionizing the industrial sector as a "just-in-time" training tool. Workers in industrial settings will find AR a helpful training tool for a variety of reasons, including a reduction in production mistakes and a rise in worker safety.

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