AR and VR: A safe landing on the plant floor
AR and VR can disrupt manufacturing training methods, and with manufacturing plants projected to lose 2.7 million skilled workers due to retirement in the next decade, they need to leverage AR and VR to keep their factories running.
Manufacturers can leverage AR/VR functionalities for multiple operational activities on the factory floor, including:
AR and VR can smooth the transition toward individualized and customer-centric production by catalyzing the product design improvement process. Coupled with a digital twin and IIoT, AR’s overlaying features and VR’s auditive, visual, and haptic simulation capabilities enable product design engineers to generate, study, and test virtual prototypes.
Besides aircraft assembly training, engineers can streamline customized product development in smart plants using AR-powered worker guidance systems. The system blends artificial intelligence and other detection components with high-lumen industrial strength projectors and torque guns to ensure that products are built without errors the very first time.
AR plays an integral role in enabling the quality control of manufactured or assembled products. The automotive and aerospace industries have already begun leveraging AR-equipped glasses and tablets to examine the quality of parts sent by third-party suppliers and placement of different components in the assembly line.
The worker guidance systems used to assemble components also are utilized to assure product quality. The AR-facilitated tool combines industrial cameras with high-powered projectors to display essential information directly onto the work surface. The resulting digital canvas allows technicians to verify and validate assembly sequence and manufacture parts. Some OEMs and Tier 1 automotive manufacturing firms that have adopted Light Guide Systems over traditional work instructions have reported a 90% reduction in errors and 40-50% reduction in cycle time.
Maintenance teams leverage AR-overlaid displays to view the machine’s condition, facilitating problem detection ahead of solving it in person. In one instance, an AR-headset used a technology to guide a technician with instructions on the line of sight. This helped improve his performance in wiring a wind turbine’s control box by 34%.
Smart warehousing has disrupted distribution logistics practices by enhancing the precision and speed of fulfilling orders. It leverages AR to more efficiently tag, code, and manage freights. As sensors are now priced below $10 per unit and cellular ubiquity is expanding IoT opportunities, the freight handling process has become more systematic, allowing for accurate picking and packaging. Reports suggest that warehouse workers using AR have improved their picking accuracy by up to 300% and accelerated their performance by 30%.