Technology

How Augmented Reality Will Disrupt the Manufacturing Industry | Making the Factory of the Future a Reality

Augmented reality (AR) is a term used to identify a set of technologies that allow the view of the real world environment to be augmented or enhanced by computer-generated elements or objects. The visual perception of elements in the physical environment is enhanced through the use of computing devices. An 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.

Manufacturing companies need real-time information exchanges at various stages of the product lifecycle such as design, prototyping, production, assembly, maintenance/repair, etc.. This is due to rapid globalization and increase in the complexity of internal processes and supply chains. In this scenario, AR can be of great help because of its capability to simulate, assist, and improve the processes before they are carried out. The customers of manufacturing and industrial enterprises are open to utilizing augmented reality (AR) value-add services to reduce downtime and further streamline their operations.

Manufacturing enterprises are using augmented reality in various applications. The technology is being used in assistive systems that provide complex assembly instructions using head-mounted displays (HMDs). Augmented reality is also used in the training and development of workers to address an acute skill gap by proving expert assistance and support in manufacturing operations through telepresence solutions.

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Moreover, the technology is used in safety inspection and error detection and comprehensive quality assurance checks. For instance, AR is used in Porshe’s quality assurance processes for its car manufacturing plant. AR can be used in quality assurance in order to perform real-time analysis of parts and assembled components, leading to the possibility of the automation of QA processes.

The augmented reality in the manufacturing market is primarily driven by an increase in the development and adoption of AR capable wearables and systems such as Microsoft’s Hololens and the Oculus Rift. These products are capable of running on portable general purpose devices such as tablets or smartphones and dedicated hardware such as smart glasses and head mounted displays.