In only a few short years, augmented reality (AR) has evolved from a fancy gaming feature into a technology that is able to solve important operational problems for a number of industries. AR contributes to the easier implementation of actions. Hence, it’s no wonder that we started seeing a significant number of AR and VR devices hit the manufacturing equipment market.
In fact, in 2020 it’s expected that augmented reality users will hit 1 billion. Currently, the value of the market stands at $16,8 billion but with its wide implementation on the manufacturing floor, it’s set to reach $198 billion in 2025.
Therefore, it’s not really a surprise that manufacturers are already considering the use of AR in production processes. However, the truth is that technology could actually contribute way beyond commercial applications.
We can already see how AR revolutionizes e-Commerce but, it could be quite difficult to imagine it could have any applications in manufacturing. Yet, giants from multiple industries take advantage of it in different stages of the production process. From Porsche using AR to test the quality level of their vehicles to Boeing having wire assembly indicates, the examples of such applications are various and are only increasing.
The number of Augmented reality applications in manufacturing is growing, making it a technology that can no longer be ignored. Being relatively new, we could say manufacturers are still only scratching the surface of its capabilities. To be more specific, let’s have a look at some examples of brands using AR in the production stages.
Mitsubishi Electric: Maintenance
Consulting manuals over different practices could be quite a hassle. It appears that augmented reality-based technology offers a helping hand. That’s why Mitsubishi Electric has made a smart choice and started working on AR technology that would support the servicing of their equipment. It allows employees to view a 3D model and confirm the order of an inspection on a headset. What’s more, they can enter the results of the inspection with voice commands.
Mitsubishi uses augmented reality technology to maintain the manufacturing environment. This will eventually make constant consulting obsolete, saving the company both time and money.
It’s expected that the technology Mitsubishi is developing will be useful not only for maintenance but beyond it as well. They believe that it could be applied for building electrical systems or water-treatment plant inspection.
Porsche: Quality Control
Porsche recently built factories of the future in Zuffenhausen and Leipzig. They claim they’ve used around 100 technical innovations in production alone. Porsche is just as keen on innovation as they are on product quality.
In 2016, the company adopted augmented reality in its manufacturing processes for quality assurance. According to their announcement, their new factories are “really augmented”. They work with AR for obtaining even faster information about components in order to ensure they fit together ideally.
Porsche’s AR solution allows quality center employees to work with tablets to compare how assembled cars match the original design before it’s sent to the end-user. This method cuts down costs and saves time, while still allowing the company to meet its high standards.
Boeing: Complex Assembly
Augmented reality applications prove to be able to solve some of the most complex difficulties of various companies. Even Boeing has considered applying AR in their manufacturing processes.
As amazing as it sounds, industries like aircraft also find this technology helpful. In the specific case of Boeing, they brought Google Glass to the wire assembly process of one of their models — 787–8 Freighter.
Before AR came to the picture, their employees had to rely on computers in order to make sure all wires are assembled correctly. It used to be a very time-consuming and exhausting process which also left the door open for mistakes. To solve that problem, Boeing used an AR headset so that all the information employees need is right in front of their eyes. This has made the wire assembly process more efficient and comfortable. Moreover, they have the ability to use voice commands and ask a colleague for help by joining the headset’s stream.
The results were clear. Boeing’s assembly process became 25% faster and had nearly zero percent errors. Furthermore, this solution not only increased employees’ productivity by 40% but their satisfaction as well.
Ford Motor Company: Design
Ford decided to make use of augmented reality technology to overhaul their design process. For this purpose, they’ve chosen the Microsoft HoloLens AR headset. With its help, product designers can see potential design changes of a vehicle laid over a physical prototype.
It turned out that this could bring a number of benefits to Ford. Using AR designers are able to spread their fantasies over the prototype, which makes them more creative. Moreover, it significantly improves decision making and speeds up the design process.
Augmented reality makes it easier for Ford to manage all crucial design information right on the spot. It also greatly improves teamwork. Designers can leave comments through the AR headset so that the whole team can access them. Furthermore, the ability to teleoperate makes the solution even more powerful.
Ford also has AR apps for their design process. Members of the design team can use them to access prototypes as an additional tool to the headset.
Jaguar Land Rover: Personnel Training
Jaguar Land Rover collaborated with Bosch and RE’FLECT for the development of an augmented reality training app for their employees. The main idea was to train technicians without having to remove and reinstall the vehicle dashboard.
With the help of the app, the mechanic should just point the iPad and he could see everything that is behind it. All the wirings, sensors, and connections are visible so that he can determine their exact location and even interact with components.
Range Rover’s training app is also able to generate connections and wiring diagrams. All this simplifies instructors’ work as they can still perform training on the actual vehicle, but without having to spend time in re-assembling. This approach allows the company to train new employees at a lower cost and way faster.