A new innovative technology, introduced recently in the last five to six years, is taking its place in manufacturing with a higher than expected acceptance. Known as Augmented Reality (AR), this phenomenon has emerged with the potential to transform the manufacturing industry. Unlike virtual reality, AR overlays digital imagery onto physical surroundings, typically through the use of a headset, AR glasses or projection. This blog looks at how AR can provide visual cues and real-time information that can streamline and improve a variety of manufacturing processes and operations for forward-thinking businesses.
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One of the biggest challenges facing manufacturers today is a shortage of skilled workers. AR technology can enhance the training process by creating a fully immersive training environment that is far more efficient than training manuals and similar materials. Work instructions can be easily modified at the push of a button to address the individual or company level allowing desired flexibility while creating upskilling challenges for workers. By pointing out components of sophisticated equipment and demonstrating complex tasks in a realistic setting, AR has the potential to train workers in a quarter of the time that conventional methods take. Training is therefore enhanced by better, more illustrated instructions.
AR is not just a bonus for your existing workforce. It can also help attract new workers, especially younger people who seek experience with cutting-edge technologies. The manufacturer can assign more complex tasks to their workers demonstrating that manual processes are relevant to the company.
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Maintenance of costly manufacturing machinery is another area that can benefit from AR. Newer AR technology, combined with sensor data and real-time analytics, can greatly enhance preventive and predictive maintenance.
For example, AR glasses can use three-dimensional arrows to pinpoint machine components and display real-time data — such as temperature, vibration rates, and maintenance histories and trends. This allows workers to quickly identify and address potential failure points before a machine breaks down. Speedier inspections, verifications and adjustments can be provided throughout the manufacturing process instead of upon completion.
AR technology can significantly improve the efficiency of complex assembly processes by providing workers with visual instructions. For instance, AR can superimpose spatial markers over objects and provide instructions through the AR viewer. Manual processes are seamlessly merged with automated data at the same time, creating an opportunity to provide multiple operations in a single application system. Workers can easily shift and comprehend relationships from one process to another.
AR ensures standardized digital work instructions allowing workers to perform complex tasks more quickly and accurately. The result is reduced error rates and a more satisfied workforce.
Make the transformation
These are just a few examples of the many ways AR technology is transforming manufacturing. AR offers an easy and reliable means for manufacturers to follow strict industry guidelines and complex high-precision technical applications. AR can easily be used throughout the business model as an invaluable tool in product design and development, logistics management, customer support, quality control and workplace safety management. Contact your ORBA CPA to evaluate the potential costs and benefits of implementing this technology at your company.
For more information, contact Joyce Carlson at [email protected] or 312.670.7444. Visit ORBA.com to learn more about our Manufacturing & Distribution Group.