Augmented Reality in Industry
Augmented reality superimposes virtual elements constructed from CAD and other data onto views of real objects, using devices such as mobile phones, tablets and smart glasses. This enables new efficiencies in training, service, assembly, inspection, maintenance and more.
AR can help bridge the gap between field technicians and senior engineers. For example, GE used AR to provide step-by-step visual instructions for troubleshooting wind turbines.
Training workers to operate heavy machinery or understand complex equipment and processes is difficult and dangerous. AR enables workers to learn the skills needed with simulated equipment in a safe, controlled environment. In turn, this makes the process much more scalable and reduces training costs by eliminating the need for expensive hardware platforms.
Manufacturers can also benefit from AR technology’s ability to make assembly, inspection and maintenance tasks much easier. This can help with production efficiency, quality control and ar in industry on-demand support to customers. For instance, Siemens uses augmented reality in its training to teach employees how to set up and service its machines.
The augmented reality (AR) software allows instructors to overlay information directly onto a worker’s view of the work space, such as step-by-step audio and visual instructions, digital identification of components and more. This provides a clearer, more effective alternative to PDF documents or printed instruction manuals, as demonstrated in a study by GE that found that technicians working with physical work instructions showed 34% less efficiency than those who used an AR headset.
The latest generation of AR authoring tools have 2D and 3D graphical editing and scripting features to streamline the creation of applications customized for the hardware on which they’ll be deployed, according to Aveva’s Richmond. For example, Siemens’s AssistAR software integrates with its product lifecycle management system to automate the extraction of both the CAD data and the assembly, inspection or maintenance sequence into an AR application. This then becomes a part of the existing training curriculum and can be accessed via the company’s Learning Management System.
The inspection process is a critical one for health and safety. It involves the re-enactment of all work steps in a particular workplace environment to ensure that no hazards have been overlooked or unwittingly introduced during the original task. This is normally done in teams that include health and safety committee members, representatives, and technical experts. A summary report can then be prepared on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis to identify any trends and highlight areas for improvement.
AR can help make the whole process of inspection easier and more efficient for the team by providing them with step-by-step holographic instructions of the entire work procedure. Siemens’ AssistAR software, for example, shows technicians how to replace or assemble components such as screws and faceplates on a gearbox. A study showed that a technician using AR headsets to follow the instructions improved their performance by 34%.
Other applications of AR for inspection include a virtual plant walk-through to verify layouts, the locations of machinery and materials, air ducts and fire exits. This allows the plant or factory to be inspected for adherence to health and safety regulations, with the advantage of saving time by eliminating unnecessary physical work. AR can also help with the assessment of the condition of equipment and structures by displaying images or 3D models that allow the inspector to check the status of equipment without having to dismantle it.
Maintenance is a crucial part of the manufacturing industry, as it directly influences productivity and performance. However, it is often time-consuming and resource-intensive. AR has the potential to simplify and speed up the process by providing workers with a real-time visual representation of their data. This will allow them to detect trends and possible efficiencies that may not be apparent from text or numbers alone.
Augmented reality in maintenance can also help reduce the growing skill gap among maintenance personnel. For example, when a new technician needs to know how ar in industry to wire an engine, AR can provide step-by-step instructions. This can be done by recognizing the technician’s field of view and superimposing the relevant information on top of it. This helps technicians perform maintenance tasks more efficiently and accurately.
In addition, AR can also make it easier for novices to understand technical drawings and products. This technology can help manufacturers increase productivity by streamlining the repair process and reducing costs. AR can also be used to support remote operators. This is a convenient way to get help from an expert while being hands-free.
Despite the many advantages of AR, there are still some barriers to adoption. First, the technology must be able to work in different environments and on multiple devices. Additionally, the system must be able to recognize objects based on their natural characteristics, such as textures and edges.
One of the primary uses of AR involves facilitating remote communication and collaboration. Industrial professionals need to connect frequently with peers at other locations. AR applications enable them to do so more efficiently, using diagrams, markers, text, instructions and video overlays on their live field of view.
The augmented reality technology behind these applications is similar to that used in computer games, but it is purpose-built for industrial needs. It requires a camera, sensor and other hardware to locate elements in the real world to superimpose digitally constructed information over them. It also requires software that is easy to install and operate on a mobile device or smart glasses. Aveva’s Richmond says the latest generation of AR authoring software provides 2D and 3D graphical editing tools to streamline the process of building an application for a particular hardware platform. He adds that storing libraries in the cloud streamlines access and ensures the correct versions of software are available when needed.
AR is also widely used to simplify day-to-day operations and procedures for assembly workers. These are typically high-value tasks that need to be performed quickly and accurately. AR apps provide a new way for manufacturing personnel to process information – with augmented instructions appearing directly in their line of sight and providing guidance at each step. The result is less time spent referring to a manual, and fewer errors due to incorrect interpretation of information.