Augmented reality is changing the face of manufacturing, increasing quality, efficiency, and safety while helping to control costs. If AR in manufacturing sounds too good to be true, you aren’t paying enough attention. Here’s a look at just a few of the improvements AR can bring to your operations.
Benefits of Using AR in Manufacturing
Fill the Skills Gap
Many manufacturing companies have bemoaned the lack of applicable skills to support today’s high-tech manufacturing. Adding AR in manufacturing can help by walking new employees through tricky procedures or calculations rather than relying on inherent skills. As a result, manufacturers can work with their existing workforce or hire new employees even if they don’t have the complete required skillset. Deloitte predicts that nearly 2.4 million jobs will go unfilled between now and 2028, so whatever manufacturers can do to upskill current employees will help keep plants running.
AR can help fill the skills gap by walking employees through tricky procedures step-by-step.
Using AR in manufacturing can simplify and improve training on the shop floor. Rather than lose productivity by putting people in classrooms or having new hires shadow existing workers, using augmented reality will lead the new employee through the proper procedures and provide a warning when they perform operations incorrectly.
Remove the need to pull people from operations for training, use AR for training right on the shop floor.
AR in manufacturing can improve safety by providing visual cues when operations are unsafe. For example, if an area is too hot to enter safely, the augmented reality app can flash a warning. AR can also let workers know if they are performing operations incorrectly in a way that could be dangerous, helping to reduce or eliminate industrial accidents.
Increase Productivity and Quality
Rather than rely on paper or even bar code “routers” or work instructions, AR in manufacturing can show operations step-by-step to ensure that employees are performing the right actions in the right order. For example, this helps to eliminate common mistakes such as confusing right and left parts or assembling items wrong side up. This reduces costly rework and ensures better product quality.
Ensure high quality while also increasing efficiency.
Augmented reality can guide warehouse pickers to locations to retrieve required materials and then present a 3-D image of the item so the picker can be certain they have retrieved the right items. This helps to identify gaps in inventory management procedures and reduces shipping errors, making customers happier and reducing the cost of returns.
Easily identify gaps in inventory management and reduce shipping errors.
Streamline Maintenance and Field Service
Customers hate when the field service technician arrives without the right part or without the required manual to fix their units. Using AR for field service techs walks them through required repairs and updates so items are fixed during the first call.
AR in manufacturing is also helpful for plant floor maintenance. Instead of sending maintenance workers to multiple training workshops so they become experts on individual machines, AR can walk repair personnel with general skills through specific fixes or preventive maintenance steps. This helps get machinery back in service faster, reducing unplanned downtime and improving productivity and throughput.
Reduce unplanned downtime and improve productivity.
Support Product Design
Creating prototypes and running focus groups for new products is expensive and time-consuming but using AR in manufacturing helps cut down on time and expense. Designers can observe customers interacting with new designs in an AR app, and marketing executives can make product suggestions without having to have a physical model to work from. As a result, new products reach the market faster, increasing profitability and market share.
Why Thingworx Should Be Your Choice for AR in Manufacturing
PTC designed Thingworx for today’s connected manufacturing world. Its IIoT capabilities enable manufacturing companies to get up and running quickly. Sample apps and templates provide a great head start on most projects, and the online help, customer forums, and support provide fast solutions to questions or problems. PTC has always focused on the manufacturing industry, so they understand exactly what people in the industry need to solve their problems.
As a PTC reseller, we may be a bit biased, but we firmly believe that Thingworx offers organizations the best possible tool to introduce AR into their manufacturing operations. If you’d like to learn more about Thingworx, AR or any of PTC’s products, contact us today.