The term augmented reality (AR) refers to the blending of real-life and computer-generated renderings. Despite being a relatively new technology, AR has already established a foothold in the gaming and e-commerce industries and is quickly growing in popularity in such fields as healthcare, defense, education, and manufacturing. These new tools are quickly revolutionizing the industry and providing teams with the tools they need to optimize processes from design to maintenance.

How Augmented Reality Applications in Manufacturing Work

AR functions using a relatively simple principle. The AR platform displays real-time images from the camera to the user. The user can see the surrounding world in much the same way they would with a naked eye. However, the AR software uses references, or “markers”, to locate certain objects or spaces that need to be enhanced. The platform recognizes different objects and then correlates this information with GPS to orient itself. Once this alignment occurs, CGI renderings can be overlayed into the user’s display using the details of specified objects or spaces to enhance their appearance. These enhancements have largely been used for entertainment purposes, such as gaming, but have evolved into more industrial uses for manufacturing.

The augmented reality industry is rapidly growing and has a projected market size of $300 billion by 2023.

Benefits of AR Applications in Manufacturing

There are several benefits augmented reality in manufacturing offers including:

  • Optimized product design and development processes
  • Simplified training and maintenance
  • Expedient troubleshooting
  • Increased employee productivity
  • More intuitive data management
  • Improvements in quality control

Augmented reality can offer insights and perspectives that the human eye could easily miss. A complex manufacturing operation has many moving parts and getting a full picture can be difficult. Communicating needs and issues across disciplines can be a challenge and your organization may not have an intuitive method of visualizing and explaining complex technical subjects to employees and customers. By leveraging augmented reality applications in manufacturing, you can give your staff a more intimate look into the manufacturing process ranging from design and development to troubleshooting to facilities maintenance. More and more manufacturers are looking to AR as a catalyst for streamlining their production and gaining a competitive edge.

Much of a manufacturer’s success hinges on communicating important information and issues between engineers, managers, technicians, and production line workers.
AR simplifies communicating complex technical matters saving valuable time and resources.

How to Use AR in Manufacturing

The beauty of AR lies not only in its intuitiveness but also in its versatility. What makes it so suitable for an industrial setting is its ability to assist and simplify several different aspects of the manufacturing process.

Design and Development

The utility of augmented reality applications in manufacturing across the design and development stages of a new product is multifaceted. Although there are several CAD packages that can create impressive and highly realistic imagery the user interfaces are still mostly limited to a computer, keyboard, and mouse. Augmented reality helps bring digital designs to life, offering a more detailed sneak peek at what a finished product will look like and how it will interact with its environment. This, paired with recent advances in generative design, will encourage greater creativity and innovation when developing new products. Another important benefit of AR in the design and development stages is the ability to test products on consumers and receive valuable feedback without the need for costly prototyping. Changes to a product’s design can practically be made in real-time, negating the need for changes down the road and thus saving time and financial resources.

Training and Maintenance

Training new staff is tedious, costly, and time-consuming. Using augmented reality applications in manufacturing can simplify and expedite this process by creating interactive training programs that can take place in the field. Likewise, maintenance can be streamlined as AR can replace bulky operations manuals with interactive images displaying technical specifications and repair instructions for plant equipment.

According to PTC, about 55% of research respondents cited instructing and training as their most frequent use case for implementing augmented reality applications in manufacturing.

Remote Collaboration

Zoom and skype conferences can be replaced with interactive virtual plant tours to keep your entire organization in the loop. Likewise, if any project requires remote professional assistance, an expert can closely guide workers in real-time with a variety of AR assistance tools.

Vuforia Augmented Reality Suite

As the manufacturing world becomes increasingly competitive in our ever more globalized economy, having a competitive edge is more crucial than ever. The key to having this edge is speed and efficiency of production and collaboration along with minimization of downtime. The Vuforia AR platform will provide your organization with an arsenal of AR features that will help you win out against the competition. This comprehensive suite will offer new improvements to several aspects of your manufacturing process leaving both employees and customers satisfied.

  • Expert Capture: Use AR to create more simplified, immersive, and effective training and instruction programs. Vuforia expert capture makes this possible with tools that accelerate content creation, simplify knowledge transfer, support cross-device publishing, help to create detailed and location-aware instructional content.
  • Vuforia Studio: Bring your new product designs to life with Vuforia Studio to transform your existing CAD drawings into immersive AR experiences that are useful for engineers and front-line workers alike.
  • Vuforia Chalk: Greatly improve your organization’s problem-solving capabilities with Vuforia Chalk, an augmented reality-based remote assistance platform that will connect experts and technicians and allow them to collaborate with features such as real-time video communications and the ability to digitally annotate 3D physical objects in the field.

Curious to know how Vuforia compares to other AR applications?

Vuforia vs ARKit

Vuforia vs Wikitude

Vuforia vs Unity

Leverage AR for Improved Manufacturing Operations

Augmented reality is quickly becoming an integral part of the manufacturing world. It will soon be a necessity for maintaining a competitive advantage in the marketplace due to its ability to increase production capabilities and maintenance efficiency, simplify workflows, and exceed customer and employee needs. Integrating cutting-edge augmented reality applications into your manufacturing process can seem like a daunting task. However, with many years of experience, we can help you get started and assist your organization in utilizing all the amazing benefits that augmented reality (AR) has to offer.