The presence of augmented reality in business today is increasingly evident among industrial facilities. AR is particularly helping producers improve manual assembly and maintenance operations. AR refines manufacturing processes, leading to more sustainable and competitive decision-making.
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Starting with Digital Transformation
Before diving deeply into AR in manufacturing, factory managers should rethink their infrastructure. Your overall operation will be much more effective, seamless and flexible for the future if you adopt digital transformation. By redesigning your infrastructure to be electronic and interactive, it will be easier to integrate future innovations, such as AR development.
Part of digital transformation involves training employees to be more digital-centric. Manufacturers of the future will not rely on memory or skill retention of workers to get tasks completed. IoT devices are already generating volumes of data that AI software can scan to identify immediate solutions to problems.
How AR Makes Factories More Efficient
AR empowers assemblers, machine operators, and technicians to gain access to task instructions when they have questions or difficulties with assignments. A major reason AR has experienced quick adoption among manufacturers is that it bridges the gap between digital and physical environments. It’s user-friendly technology that provides the following benefits to a factory:
- Improves asset and workforce performance
- Cuts operational costs on machinery and labor
- Leads to higher-quality products
- Accelerates delivery time
- Makes deliveries more accurate and reliable
- Overcoming manufacturing challenges
Some of the major manufacturing challenges ahead involve an unpredictable economy and changing workforce demographics. The pandemic has demonstrated how markets and supply chains can easily be disrupted by unforeseen disasters. But it was the manufacturers that had already undergone digital transformation that emerged as the most resilient.
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Meanwhile, as manufacturing jobs become more complex, workers are alienated and move on to other jobs. That’s why it’s imperative to look at the big picture and use AR technology to help improve team-building and retain employees.
AR simplifies both training and recruiting to promote a more comfortable and stable work environment. Many skilled workers are headed for retirement as younger and less experienced individuals are moving into these jobs. Here are ways AR can improve the training and work experience on a factory floor:
- Remote Access to Assistance – Employees can use mobile devices to tap into on-demand advice and on-the-job training assistance.
- 3D Guides – Step-by-step guides displayed in 3D visualization help workers understand equipment and their work environment better.
- Diagnostic Tools – IoT sensors deliver real-time data that enables timely decision-making to improve operations.
- Access to Multimedia and Drawings – Workers can tap into assignment instructions and look at drawings. AR allows for diverse use of various media, from PDFs to videos.
AR-based instructions in a manufacturing plant are much more sophisticated than traditional work manuals yet are easier to use. Work instructions can now be produced in multiple ways to provide flexibility for management and staff. Thanks to AR capabilities, employees can focus on equipment and work instructions at the same time.
Path to Adopting AR Technology
Any type of data analysis that has been traditionally performed at a factory can be monumentally improved with AR. The more complex manufacturing processes become, the greater need for AR to simplify manual labor instructions.
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Using the cloud to set up remote access to useful services and applications is essential. Here are some of the priorities manufacturers should consider for embracing AR:
- Select AR solutions that are easy to implement
- Hire skilled technicians comfortable with new tech
- Use software development kits to reuse digital assets
- Implement AR for repetitive tasks
- Start small with a scalable solution
The path to adopting AR in manufacturing should emphasize digital transformation to facilitate better digital communication. From that base of foundational technologies, factories can easily customize and scale the deployment of any future applications or solutions.