Extended reality (XR) technologies have been increasingly adopted over the past few years in the manufacturing industry. Analysts estimate that utilizing VR/AR technology in the manufacturing sector can provide a $360 billion boost to GDP by 2030, which is achieved through:
- increased productivity,
- operational efficiency,
- and improved production processes.
However, VR/AR solutions are still far from widespread adoption, and business leaders might be unaware of the use cases and benefits of implementing AR/VR in manufacturing operations.
There is still plenty of time and opportunity to reap the benefits of VR/AR technology in manufacturing, which is why we wrote this article on the top 7 use cases of XR/AR in manufacturing with real-world examples.
1- Complex assemblies
Virtual reality solutions can be used to simulate assembly scenarios and train workers on how to assemble products in a safe and efficient manner. Augmented reality can be used to overlay work instructions or information utilizing AR glasses (smart glasses), making it easier for workers to understand and complete the assembly process. Additionally, XR technologies can be used to collaborate remotely on assembly tasks, enabling experts to guide and assist workers in other locations. Overall, using XR technologies can improve assembly processes’ efficiency, accuracy, and safety.
Airbus utilizes Microsoft HoloLens 2 AR glasses in assembly tasks to guide workers with easy access to visual data points which simplifies complex assembly processes with step-by-step instructions.
2- Quality assurance
AR technology can aid quality assurance in several ways:
AR can overlay digital data on top of real-world objects, making it easier for workers to identify defects or deviations from quality standards.
AR can be used to train employees on how to perform quality assurance tasks, such as how to properly inspect a product or identify defects.
AR can be used to provide real-time assistance from experienced workers while performing quality assurance tasks, allowing experts to remotely guide workers and ensure that quality standards are met.
AR can be used to gather data on the quality assurance process, such as the number of defects identified, time spent on inspection, and other relevant metrics.
Overall, the use of AR technology can improve the efficiency, accuracy, and consistency of quality assurance processes, helping to ensure that products meet quality standards and customer expectations.
Watch how Mobile AR solutions from Taqtile ease quality inspections by allowing employees to access work instructions and related data points.
Augmented reality eases asset identification and asset management with spatial computing, which streamlines warehouse operations. With AR glasses, workers can access inventory data on the move and navigate the warehouse efficiently and safely while keeping their hands free.
Deploying AR also enables more efficient scheduling and planning since warehouse operatives can get quick access to the following data:
- Data from production lines
- Data from sales teams
- Inventory data
Due to visual representation, data access, and decreased equipment downtime warehouse operations can be made more efficient, resulting in a reduced overall supply chain lead time. The video below demonstrates how augmented reality can enhance warehouse operational efficiency.
4- Maintenance and repair
Augmented reality can be used to overlay instructions and diagrams onto real-world equipment during repairs, allowing technicians to identify and fix issues. Seeing contextualized information in real-time eliminates guesswork and allows technicians to fasten the maintenance process. Augmented reality also enables smooth knowledge transfer by allowing technicians to view related material (manuals, guides, etc.) or via video conferencing with a remote expert. Overall, AR enhances maintenance and repair by enabling:
- Faster problem diagnosis
- Speeding up maintenance and repair tasks
- Standardizing procedures and reducing human error
- Decreasing equipment downtimes
- Eliminating expert travel costs
The video below demonstrates how AR solutions by Vuforia ease maintenance and repair tasks.
The manufacturing sector involves high-risk jobs, which account for 20% of workplace injuries in the UK with only 10% of the workforce.1 Health and safety should be top priorities for manufacturing companies, which is achievable through effective training. Utilizing AR/VR in both soft skill and technical training is proven to increase:
- Knowledge retention
- Trainee engagement
- Training efficiency
- Workplace safety
The manufacturing industry involves complex and dangerous equipment that employees have to operate, which requires training. Studies suggest that 70% of skills and knowledge are learned on the job, which indicates that training solutions should offer realistic scenarios and hands-on methods. Virtual reality solutions allow new workers to train in a safe and controlled environment in which to practice and learn. This allows them to learn and make mistakes without the risk of damaging real equipment or causing costly downtime.
VR/AR devices also offer features such as eye tracking and hand tracking, which can be used to pinpoint bottlenecks and problems employees face in training. Utilizing performance indicators ensure training is completed correctly.
The video below demonstrates how PBC Linear utilizes augmented reality in training.
6- Design and development
AR/VR solutions assist manufacturing businesses by easing multiple steps of the product development cycle, such as prototyping and design refinement. Utilizing virtual objects saves time and money since physical prototypes are pricy, hard to duplicate, and extremely lengthy. Being able to design in 3D fastens the design process because it provides the “real world image”, understanding and visualizing the end product in 3D facilitates user-centric design.
AR/VR also enables collaboration without location boundaries which is useful in review and creative processes.
See how McLaren designers utilize cutting-edge technology to design in a realistic and immersive environment.
7- Customer support
AR applications also help customers get effective remote assistance from qualified experts with AR interfaces that provide in-context instructions. AR is useful in:
- Product introduction and installation
- Product maintenance
- Defect detection and repair tasks
The video below demonstrates how SMA uses augmented reality to enhance customer support operations.
If you have further questions on XR, don’t hesitate to contact us:
This article was drafted by former AIMultiple industry analyst Berke Can Agagündüz.
Cem has been the principal analyst at AIMultiple since 2017. AIMultiple informs hundreds of thousands of businesses (as per similarWeb) including 60% of Fortune 500 every month.
Cem's work has been cited by leading global publications including Business Insider, Forbes, Washington Post, global firms like Deloitte, HPE, NGOs like World Economic Forum and supranational organizations like European Commission. You can see more reputable companies and media that referenced AIMultiple.
Throughout his career, Cem served as a tech consultant, tech buyer and tech entrepreneur. He advised businesses on their enterprise software, automation, cloud, AI / ML and other technology related decisions at McKinsey & Company and Altman Solon for more than a decade. He also published a McKinsey report on digitalization.
He led technology strategy and procurement of a telco while reporting to the CEO. He has also led commercial growth of deep tech company Hypatos that reached a 7 digit annual recurring revenue and a 9 digit valuation from 0 within 2 years. Cem's work in Hypatos was covered by leading technology publications like TechCrunch and Business Insider.
Cem regularly speaks at international technology conferences. He graduated from Bogazici University as a computer engineer and holds an MBA from Columbia Business School.
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