Augmented reality(AR) is creating a stir in manufacturing, but the industry has not yet grasped the far-reaching changes as AR becomes more ubiquitous. Here is a look at a few of the ways AR will change manufacturing, followed by some tips for achieving the best results for your implementation.

How AR Will Affect Manufacturing

AR is an important component of Industry 4.0, the next wave of evolutionary changes in the manufacturing industry. The state-of-the-art technologies that support Industry 4.0 include IoT, robotics, 3-D printing, nano-technology, digital twins, VR, and AR. AR has quickly captured the imaginations of consumers, but in the long run, its impact on manufacturing will eclipse its consumer use-cases.

AR is just one of the many technologies impacting the Industry 4.0 evolution.

Augmented Reality

Time to Market

A rapid time to market is the key to capturing market share and profoundly affects product lifetime profitability. A successful launch ahead of competitors can make a product or create a category, while an early but unsuccessful launch can doom a product forever. As an engineer, you know it’s a difficult balance.

Using AR can help reduce time to market by allowing rapid decisions during the product design phase. Should the switch go here…or there? It’s easy to tell with AR, and it can cut weeks off the design phase by eliminating lengthy and expensive physical trials.

Prototypes

While you may still want to do some physical prototypes, using AR can help reduce the number of rounds of prototypes you need because you can test design ideas on real-world customers. You can easily observe how they interact with the product. You can also test the production process using AR to ensure the most efficient operations. The AR test can help reduce scrap, improve efficiency, and ensure the right trade-off between cost and quality.

AR helps reduce the number of costly physical prototypes needed during the design process.

Customer Input

Using AR to observe customers interacting with your product is faster, less expensive, and more accurate than even the most detailed focus groups. Discussions with customers about an LVP (least viable product) feature set are great, but customers rarely know what they need or want until they try it.

Pundits often advise customers to wait until version 3.0 to buy a product, because that gives the manufacturer time to get the features and operating parameters right. By using AR to get customer input up front, that’s no longer necessary. You watch, and you know. The product hits the market with the right feature set.

Field Support

Field technicians often carry thick manuals or watch videos to guide them through repair processes. With AR, the manual or the repair process can combine with reality to make repairs and upgrades faster. That helps ensure the profitability of field service and reduces the cost of warranty repairs.

Production Efficiency

Manufacturing relies on printed routing sheets, assembly diagrams and specifications to help production workers complete operations correctly. But paper gets lost or out of date quickly, which can lead to scrap or rework.

AR is always up-to-date with the latest specifications and using AR in manufacturing can guide workers through every step of the process. It helps reduce assembly, machining and set up errors, improves efficiency, reduces scrap, and reduces operation time. The result is lower costs and higher quality.

AR is always up to date the with the latest specifications and requirements.

Training

Many compliance frameworks, such as IATF 16949 for automotive suppliers, ISO 9001 for general manufacturing or OSHA guidelines for hazardous material handling, require operator training before allowing assignment of workers to certain tasks. In the past, this meant pulling workers out of production for several days each year for training or retraining. Now, using AR in manufacturing can mean an hour or two interacting with AR to simulate proper operating procedures and ensure worker safety.

Implementing AR for Best Results

There is little doubt that AR is changing the way we design and manufacture products. However, creating an AR experience is not easy without the right toolset. There are many companies claiming to offer AR tools and technology, but many of these are consumer‑oriented products that can’t withstand the rigor of supporting AR in manufacturing. In addition, many of these tools are stand-alone, covering just one or two aspects of the AR process, rather than managing design, build, support, IoT—the entire product lifecycle. That’s why you need an advanced AR toolset from a company steeped in manufacturing.

To create a complete AR experience, you need tools that can handle the entire product lifecycle from design to manufacturing and support.

PTC has delivered the products of choice for engineers and manufacturers since its founding more than 30 years ago.

Creo AR and ThingWorx AR Studio

PTC Creo AR works together with ThingWorx AR Studio to ensure a complete sharable AR experience. Designers and engineers can generate an AR user experience with a few clicks. Given secure access, anyone can view the AR experience from anywhere in the world, making teamwork and customer input simple and cost-effective. The methodology enables rapid sharing and feedback while protecting the company’s IP and CAD data. It can help sales and marketing generate customer interest even before the product hits the market, creating anticipation in the market.

Creo AR and ThingWorx AR work together seamlessly, as you would expect from PTC products. Users can scan a ThingMark on a design, for example, and experience the AR scenario right on their mobile device using the free ThingWorx view app.

If you are interested in learning more about the changes that the use of AR in manufacturing will bring about, contact NxRev today. We’re happy to explain how ThingWorx AR and Creo AR work together to provide the best possible experience for AR in manufacturing.