It would not be the wonder if we say that the manufacturing industry is the mother of all other industries. When there is a product, there must be some manufacturing processes related to it. And this manufacturing sector is having tremendous importance for ancillary industries. Manufacturing is an industry where every second matters. Modern automated factory floors never stop running, and even the tiniest mistake in design or layout can cost untold millions. That’s the reason why Virtual reality and augmented reality are important for this particular sector.
The ability to simulate everything from the factory floor to the most extreme edge case of the final product is invaluable, and the ability to do it instantly and effectively for free makes VR a transformative technology for factories.
In the current highly competitive business and manufacturing environment, manufacturing industry is facing the constant challenge of producing innovative products at reduced time-to-market. The increasing trend of globalized manufacturing environments requires real-time information exchanges between the various nodes in a product development life cycle, e.g., design, setup planning, production scheduling, machining, assembly, etc.as well as seamless task collaboration among these nodes.
In addition, with increased environmental awareness and legislation, more constraints have been placed on product disposal, hence promoting product recycling, servicing and repairing activities. Product development processes are becoming increasingly more complex as products become more versatile and intricate, and inherently complicated, and as product variations multiply with the trend of mass customization.
Thus, manufacturing processes have to be more systematic in order to be efficient and economically competitive. An innovative and effective solution to overcome these problems is the application of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies to simulate and improve these manufacturing processes before they are carried out. This would ensure that activities such as design, planning, machining, etc. are done right-the-first-time without the need for subsequent rework and modifications.
AR and VR can be helpful at various stages of manufacturing process. Starting from product design, AR and VR can be applied for further stages like, trial and error, manufacturing process planning, organising the manufacturing processes, inventory management, and waste management.
Manufacturing industries are having two phases namely pre-production phase and production phase.
Application of VR and AR in product planning
Product planning is a very tedious work. It demands tremendous dedication and expertise of an engineer. Starting from product’s feasibility to its optimum production cost, an engineer has to take in mind all the aspects of product design. Here AR and VR come into the picture. AR and VR convert all this paperwork, trial and error into digital and visualized data. Any changes in product design charges just few minutes vis-à-vis many hours before VR and AR revolution. Use of AR and VR in product design has drastically reduced the time and expense.
Applications of VR and AR in manufacturing
From machine layout to safety training, manufacturing is one of the main drivers of widespread VR adoption. Here are some of the most innovative ways the technology is used.
Let’s take an example of our very own automobile manufacturing company, M/s Ford.
Ford was one of the first car manufacturers to utilize virtual reality in its processes. The company has employed dedicated virtual reality specialists for many years, and uses the technology in all aspects of its operations. Engineers are able to design and build an entire care, from the power train to the upholstery, in a virtual environment.
Today, Ford utilizes consumer-available head-mounted displays such as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, but in fact they developed their own in-house solution long before VR headsets were available at retail.
Work can be done faster: Usually, it can be a hassle for fighter jet engineers to assemble an aircraft because it would take years of training to do so. But with the aid of AR glasses that use depth sensors, cameras, and motion sensors that overlay images into real world during work, engineers are able to see renderings of bolts, cables, part numbers and instructions on how to assemble a specific component.
It seems that the use of AR and VR in manufacturing sector is not new in the market. As we have seen the examples of Ford and Airbus above, there are various such players present in the market that are already incorporating AR and VR on their factory’s shop floor. We will know one by one that how the giant companies incorporated AR hardware and software in their production line.
AR and VR are going towards their own zenith day by day. By taking into account the recent scenario, the below image shows some statistics.
Both VR and AR are improving the skills of the workers as well as eliminating errors in product designing and production planning at the same time. AR and VR in manufacturing sector, are helping the manufacturers to produce more efficient and competitive products. With the aid of AR and VR, a company can overcome day to day hurdles and can focus on the quality of the product. AR and VR are having tremendous scopes in manufacturing sectors as we discussed above. Let our future products be the children of AR and VR aided manufacturing.