5 use cases of augmented reality in manufacturing industry

February 27, 2023
5 use cases of augmented reality in manufacturing industry

Companies will incorporate augmented reality (AR) into manufacturing due to industrial digitalization. The technology will simplify routine tasks like prototyping, assembly, and machinery maintenance.  

Key takeaways: 

  • Companies are implementing tablet AR, wearable AR, and projected AR into manufacturing processes
  • Industries use AR tech for training, demonstrations, prototyping, quality assurance, and maintenance 
  • Automotive, aerospace and defense, electronics, and pharmaceutical sectors use AR to streamline manufacturing

With AR, a technician can immediately retrieve machinery health status, its history of repairs, the repair manual, and safety alerts from a single device. This saves time and effort.

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The fourth industrial revolution is already underway. Valued at USD 65.53 billion in 2021, the Industry 4.0 market size is expected to grow at a CAGR of 20.8% between 2022 and 2030.

So, companies are implementing digital tools like augmented reality (AR) into manufacturing processes. 

We've discussed industrial digitalization's benefits for manufacturing and the impact of augmented reality cars on the auto industry.

Among these technologies, augmented reality in manufacturing is of particular importance. After all, it can simplify various processes, from training to quality assurance. It’s safe to say then that the manufacturing sector is already lapping it up.

Stats from Grandview Research are a testament to this. The industrial and manufacturing sector accounted for 24.3% of the Global Augmented Reality market share in 2021. That figure will grow even more as companies adopt AR into manufacturing processes.

5 augmented reality use cases in manufacturing for assembly and maintenance

  1. Training and upskilling

As companies adopt new technology, 50% of current employees will need skills to match. But, AR can help companies provide their workers with an immersive learning experience.

One can interact in real time with virtual objects and learn more about them through audio. Moreover, all the training materials can be made once and uploaded onto a shared database. After that, workers can access them from anywhere and at any time.

  1. Digital work instructions

Manufacturing processes involve workers performing complex tasks. And it can often take at least a few tries for workers to get them right.

AR can reduce such errors by overlaying instructions straight onto the work surface. Workers can follow one direction at a time and reduce errors. 

AR-based instructions make documenting instructions easier as well. For example, one can add audio cues to supplement the 3D projections via a simple interface.

  1. Prototyping

Those in the manufacturing sector know that product development takes time and costs money. Companies often spend up to $30,000 building a single prototype. This model goes through several checks and revisions before getting approved for manufacturing.

AR simplifies prototyping by helping designers visualize prototypes working in the real world. This reduces the costs associated with physical prototyping. 

  1. Quality Assurance

AR helps workers project 3D projections of prototypes onto any workspace, so they can use it for quick quality assurance checks during manufacturing. 

  1. Continuous Maintenance

Machines that get used every day are more likely to need maintenance due to wear and tear. AR reduces the time for such routine repairs by streamlining access to information.

4 manufacturing sectors using augmented reality 

  1. Automotive

AR allows workers to explore automotive designs by swapping out components. Then it simulates tests to ensure that the prototype is suitable for manufacturing.

Some companies use AR to streamline production. Here the tech ensures workers have access to the information they need.

For instance, BMW uses AR goggles to assist workers in the stud welding process. The optical tracking system tracks infrared LEDs on the machine. This guides the worker to target a particular welding point, ensuring accuracy.

  1. Aerospace and defense

Aerospace or defense manufacturing is more complex when compared to automotive manufacturing. It entails complex assembly processes and careful handling of expensive materials.

For perspective, the aerospace manufacturing sector was valued at USD 298. billion in 2020. So, it needs skilled technicians who work with precision.

Augmented reality helps aerospace and defense manufacturing units work with precision. It improves communication and increases the speed of manufacturing too.

Lockheed Martin used AR goggles to figure out accurate attachment points when building the NASA Orion spacecraft. In this case, the instructions were overlaid onto the physical spacecraft. This helped workers perform complex manufacturing tasks quickly.

  1. Electronics

The electronics industry is fast-paced. So, companies must churn out new products while ensuring they follow all the specified quality standards from time to time. 

Besides, given the high employee turnover, workers need constant training too. This is why companies are looking to AI for training and innovation.

For example, Bosch uses AR in their Dresden plant for remote maintenance work.

  1. Medical and life sciences

Pharmaceutical companies must follow strict checks to ensure they receive approval from authorities. This means machines should always operate efficiently to reduce errors. AR is helping with this process.

Companies can train operators through AR to understand complex manufacturing processes. In contrast, operators can use AR to identify components that need replacement based on their service date.

Take Apprentice.io’s manufacturing execution system, for instance. The AR-assisted overlays help the company follow complex batch recipes through audio instructions.

What are the different types of AR technologies used in manufacturing? Tablet and wearable AR explained.

  1. Tablet AR

Here, the user interacts with digital objects via a tablet or a mobile phone through a designated AR app. 

The tech is useful for simple AR-based activities like monitoring in manufacturing. This is because such tasks do not demand complex interactions with digital objects. Also, since the screen-viewing time is short, using a tablet is comfortable too.

Besides, most individuals are already familiar with using a tablet. For perspective, in 2021, there were 1.28 billion tablet users worldwide. So, implementing tablets doesn’t need much more staff training, keeping costs low. 

  1. Wearable AR

Here the user interacts with digital objects through a headset or glasses. Since the tech is wearable, one does not need to hold a handheld device or controller.

Instead, the user can use AR to overlay digital data onto real-world objects and perform tasks in real-time.

Wearable AR is used for manufacturing processes like repairing equipment. This reduces time spent switching between the job and referring to a manual. Also, it reduces maintenance time. For some companies, that amounts to about 40 hours per week.

  1. Projected AR

The interactive AR object is displayed on any surface. Since multiple people can view the object at the same time, the tech is used for many processes, including testing, training, inspection, and maintenance.

Such AR tech streamlines various manufacturing processes.

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