What to know about augmented reality in manufacturing.
The manufacturing sector is a huge section of the business world. Without manufacturing, retailers and consumers of both B2B and B2C products wouldn’t have goods to sell or purchase. Car companies rely on manufacturers for the parts and assembly of their cars, technology companies like Apple need manufacturers to supply the microchips and circuitry for their smart products, and Walmart ultimately is a distributor of the finished work of global manufacturers.
Manufacturing relies on continuously upgraded technology to operate efficiently. From the Model T assembly line to using automation programs to expedite assembly in the 21st century, manufacturing firms are built on a solid foundation of technology.
How is AR affecting the manufacturing industry?
One of the newest technologies to make an impact in manufacturing is augmented reality. AR has moved out of the realm of strictly being applicable to entertainment, gaming, and leisure and is now proving to be a powerful tool for manufacturers. Here are some of the applications of augmented reality in manufacturing.
1. Better design
For custom manufacturing, designers are relying on specs and blueprints, often reported from a 3rd party. New AR technology allows for manufacturing and production designers to take and receive measurements more accurately.
Special AR tools and apps allow for in-environment measurements to be taken and stored. For instance, if a custom furniture designer is contracted to outfit an office with new solutions, AR would enable the furniture manufacturers to measure the space and use interactive tools to display designs with possible furniture options. This kind of technology is helpful for manufacturers and designers within organizations, as well as provides clients a way to see their custom options in a more realistic way.
A lot of manufacturing assembly has been automated and now takes place on a mechanical assembly line. This has helped to expedite the production process and cut costs across industries. There are still certain steps of assembly, however, that require a pair of human eyes and hands. In those cases, and in cases of complicated manufacturing that has limited to no automation, AR has the potential to help people speed up this manual production process.
While Boeing, the airline manufacturer, was a leader in the application of AR in the assembly process, many other manufacturing teams have the opportunity to use augmented reality in their assembly, too. Imagine a screen that displays instructions and assembly protocol on a pair of glasses so that engineers never have to look down at their manuals while putting together a product. AR makes that possible – and can help to eliminate costly assembly manufacturing mistakes in the process.
3. Quality assurance
Quality assurance (QA) and quality control (QC) are critical parts of any automated manufacturing process. Augmented reality in manufacturing can help engineers run quality control processes faster and easier.
Tablet displays that produce a 3D image of a product, alongside the specifications, dimensions and other product information can be used by quality control engineers to more accurately check products rolling off the assembly line and allow them to spot problems or issues earlier in the process.
The age of AR and 3D printers has made training engineers easier than ever. Instead of boring, dry textbooks or PDFs of training and educational materials, AR allows for more dynamic, interactive models of blueprints, finished products, and floor plans. With digital and physical 3D prototypes becoming more readily available, continued education and specific training allow for more engaged engineering students.
In an increasingly competitive business climate, AR is a technology that can help businesses become increasingly agile and efficient. Augmented reality in the manufacturing industry has the potential to provide businesses with safer, faster, and more accurate production.