July 19, 2019 ERP, Toronto, Canada

How virtual and Augmented reality helps the manufacturing industry

First off, a little introduction into what is AR(artificial reality and Virtual Reality. Augmented Reality (AR) is a term used to identify a set of technologies that allows the view of real world environment to be “augmented” by computer-generated elements or objects (Van Krevelen and Poelman, 2010 Van Krevelen, D.W.F. and Poelman, R. (2010) A survey of augmented reality technologies, applications and limitations. The International Journal of Virtual Reality, 9(2), 1–20. [Google Scholar]).

More specifically, AR describes a mediated reality, where the visual perception of the physical real-world environment is enhanced by means of computing devices.

Compared with Virtual Reality (VR), i.e., a set of technologies that allow the user to interact with a computer in a simulated environment (either a simulation of the real world or an imaginary world, Khan et al. (2011 Khan, W.A., Abdul Raouf, A. and Cheng, K., (2011) Virtual Manufacturing, Springer-Verlag, London, UK. [Crossref], , [Google Scholar])), AR does not aim to replace the real world with a simulated one and is consequently often classified as a Mixed Reality (MR) system. MR is a mix of reality and VR, encompassing both AR and augmented virtuality, via immersive technology (Milgram and Kishino, 1994 Milgram, P. and Kishino, A.F. (1994) Taxonomy of mixed reality visual displays. IEICE Transactions on Information and Systems, E77-D(12), 1321–1329. [Google Scholar]).

Along with other sectors another emerging area of AR applications is the manufacturing industry, which is concerned with the process of transforming raw materials into finished goods with added value. Due to their complex internal processes and the increasing globalization of supply chains, manufacturing companies need real-time information exchanges at the various stages of the product lifecycle, i.e., design, prototyping, production, assembly, maintenance/repair, etc. In this scenario, AR can be of great help, due to its capability to simulate, assist and improve its processes before they are carried out (Ong et al., 2008 Ong, S.K., Yuan, M.L. and Nee, A.Y.C. (2008) Augmented reality applications in manufacturing: A survey. International Journal of Production Research, 46(10), 2707–2742. [Taylor & Francis Online], [Web of Science ®], , [Google Scholar]).

Indeed, the virtual objects display information that the user cannot directly detect with his own senses; the information conveyed by the virtual objects may help a user perform most of the product-related tasks (Azuma, 1997 Azuma, R. (1997). A survey of augmented reality. Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments, 6(4), 355–385.[Crossref], [Web of Science ®], , [Google Scholar]). AR applications to the manufacturing industry have been developed for several purposes, including process monitoring and control, real-time evaluation of plant layout, plant and machinery maintenance, plant and building construction, as well as for enhancing industrial safety (Georgel, 2011 Georgel, P.F. (2011) Is there a reality in industrial augmented reality? In Proceedings of the 10th IEEE International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality, IEEE Press, Piscataway, NJ, pp. 201–210. [Google Scholar]).

Moreover, authors argue that the future of mobile technology promises to revolutionize AR mobile applications in the manufacturing industry (Carmigniani et al., 2011 Carmigniani, J., Furht, B., Anisetti, M., Ceravolo, P., Damiani, E. and Ivkovic M. (2011) Augmented reality technologies, systems and applications. Multimedia Tools and Applications, 51(1), 341–377.

[Crossref], [Web of Science ®], , [Google Scholar].

Ways in which AR will benefit the manufacturing industry

AR aims to produce efficient operations by cutting down production downtime, quickly identifying the problems and keeping all the services and processes going. Let’s take a closer look at some of the ways in which AR can make the manufacturing industry the best it has ever been in years.

Lesser work time:

Usually, it can be a hassle for fighter jet engineers to assemble an aircraft because it would take years of training to do so. But with the aid of AR glasses that use depth sensors, cameras, and motion sensors that overlay images into real world during work, engineers are able to see renderings of bolts, cables, part numbers and instructions on how to assemble a specific component.

With this method, the accuracy of engineers can go up to 96% and they are able to work 30% faster.

Easy Data access :

Service engineers and manufacturers can go up to any item that comes with IoT technology and identify any object to help you get any information from a company’s back-end enterprise resource planning system. With that, they will have access to the object’s specs, location, inventory, and lead times.

Your team can use an AR-enabled mobile app to scan QR codes to view live video feed, graphics, images, and use it to repair machines.

Error prevention:

An example of this is the inspection of bracket installation in fuselage assembly when a tablet camera superimposes a virtual image of the as-designed assembly over the real as-built product. This technology quickly enables the engineer to detect any flaw.

Can be used for training purpose:

y has a bigger hand in this like in simulator training for military operations, aircraft pilots, maritime operations, advanced surgery and so much more.

When it comes to manufacturing, operators are trained for VR assembly tasks before they put into the real shop-floor assembly. Unfortunately, augmented reality in manufacturing has been less successful application-wise. In spite of there being many talks about its potential, there are fewer systems using it at the moment.

There is probably no better way to describe augmented reality than with Pokemon Go. Augmented reality turns your surrounding into an interactive realm that could be in the form of a game or anything else that is objective-based. It will add a touch of digital elements, objects, and another alluring glamor to make the experience more enjoyable. Before 2016, augmented reality in manufacturing has been nothing more than a pipedream. Now the potential is there for both Augmented and Virtual Reality in many industries, including one in the manufacturing industry. AR technology is already creating waves of strides on the industrial manufacturing plant floor.

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