Augmented Reality Takes Center Stage
Several in the manufacturing industry have begun exploring the benefits of augmented reality in the workplace. While it may sound like something you would hear about in the next installment of The Matrix, AR basically gives manufacturers and those in the construction industry an opportunity to superimpose computer-generated, composite views on top of real products, parts or machinery through sophisticated wearables or right from a smart phone or tablet.
While the trend is just starting to take shape, time and technology are proving that the combination of man and machine is helping improve not only productivity and efficiency but workplace safety as well, and many are taking notice. That’s because many argue having the ability to give workers an augmented hands-on experience is much more effective than simulation or real scenarios. It can be used to fill any skills gap and create a safer working environment.
According to an article in Industry Week, augmented reality is also being used by manufacturers to help workers identify when something is wrong with a part or a machine, instead of attempting to guess. The worker is able to view detailed specifications and tolerances to ensure things are working accordingly. By using augmented reality, factory personnel can also ‘scan’ any product that has IoT technology and gather additional information from a company’s back-end enterprise resource planning system. That means workers can get immediate access to a products’ measurements and detailed specifications, check on inventory levels, determine the location it’s in and find out how much time is needed to secure it. This can ultimately help them do their job better and provide faster service for the end customer.
This capability enables workers to build and retrieve products more efficiently, and in cases where wearables coupled with smart sensors and AR are incorporated, is even helping improve health and safety by allowing for hands-free support when it previously wasn’t an option.
AR is proving to be equally effective at enhancing training. When educating new workers within the manufacturing environment, AR can help more quickly strengthen the knowledge needed to carry out a particular job and increase comfortability. For instance, being able to see step by step instructions over a part that needs to be assembled, or being guided through a specific job before actually doing it provides peace of mind for a worker. It also allows learners to practice handling various levels of duties in a safe but otherwise realistic environment until they are ready for real on-the-job experiences.
With AR, manufacturing companies are finding ways to reduce costs, speed up their time to market and reduce errors in parts manufacturing, all while making their factories safer places to work. Consider introducing AR technology within your manufacturing facilities so that you gain a competitive advantage and create a safer work environment.