Augmented Reality (AR) is transforming manufacturing by enabling companies to improve productivity, optimize workflows, and reduce operational costs. According to a recent report by ABI Research, the number of AR smart glasses shipments in the manufacturing sector is expected to reach 27 million by 2025.
Manufacturing processes require precision and attention to detail, and even a small mistake can result in significant losses for the company. AR-powered smart glasses can help workers perform tasks more efficiently and accurately, reducing the risk of errors and improving quality control.
In this article, we’ll delve into the ways in which AR is being used in manufacturing, providing examples of successful implementations and exploring the benefits of this technology. Let’s get started!
Augmented Reality in Manufacturing: The Current Market Share
A confluence of growth factors and increasing AR use cases in manufacturing will propel the market forward. ABI Research reports that approximately 28 million AR and MR smart glasses will ship in 2026, surpassing $175 billion in revenue. This growth and demand for AR and smart glasses are not limited to enterprises but also consumers in the coming years.
Many enterprises continuously adopt AR at a respectable pace of 66% CAGR. Major tech players across hardware, software, and services contribute to this growth. Business giants like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, and Samsung are investing heavily in AR.
One of the main reasons for this growth is the early adoption of AR during COVID19. The new normal skyrocketed the demands of remote assistance, training, and real-time resolutions of downtimes and other issues an enterprise face. Today, training, educating, and providing real-time assistance and smart workflows to remote workers is a requirement and not just a value add-on. Of course, only some enterprises interested in AR have adopted it, but the interest in technology has only strengthened even as the pandemic begins to subside.
Every second, a new company associates itself with this technology and adapts AR to provide the best resources, manuals, and training to its workforce. Manufacturing is no different!
Below, let’s explore some of the major benefits of using augmented reality technology for manufacturing.
Benefits of Using Augmented Reality in Manufacturing
1. Enhanced Operational Efficiency
AR can assist workers in performing their tasks more efficiently and accurately by providing real-time guidance and instructions. Workers can use AR-enabled devices to access digital work instructions, schematics, and other relevant information, eliminating the need for paper manuals.
2. Greater Employee Safety
AR can improve safety in manufacturing environments by providing workers with real-time warnings and alerts about potential hazards. For instance, AR can alert workers when entering dangerous areas or working with hazardous materials, reducing the risk of accidents.
3. Increased productivity
AR enables workers to complete tasks much faster and more accurately. It further helps them to reduce the time required to complete a task and increase the workforce’s productivity and costs incurred on the maintenance of machinery.
4. Improved Product Quality
AR can help manufacturers ensure product quality by enabling workers to perform more effective inspections and quality control checks. AR-enabled devices can highlight defects or issues in real-time, allowing workers to address them immediately.
5. Enhanced training
AR can train workers more effectively by providing immersive and interactive training experiences. AR can simulate real-world scenarios and provide workers with hands-on experience without the risk of injury or damage to equipment.
6. Rational Decision-Making
With real-time data insights and internal audit reports, you can make rational decisions and plan your downtimes. You can also take steps for predictive maintenance and optimize your business operations.
7. Reduced Costs
AR in manufacturing will help you save money on travel costs, the accommodation of experts, and the price charged for their explicit on-visits. It also helps you save costs on unplanned downtimes through regular MROs and internal audits.
Top 19 Uses of Augmented Reality in Manufacturing
Field Service Technician Support
Problem: The Field Technician often arrives on-site to discover they will be used as additional support to complete a task. However, they sometimes need prior knowledge, experience, or preparation to complete a task. Not only is sending a technician costly, but it will also negatively affect an enterprise’s image if they cannot troubleshoot an issue.
Solution: With AR remote assistance technology, field technicians can receive real-time support from experts and troubleshoot an issue with better first-time fix ratios. Also, enterprises can do this without sending more people to work. They can merge video streams, provide knowledge to the technician available on-site, and resolve an issue as a team.
2. Warehouses and Logistics
Problem: Warehouse and logistics operations are complex. Especially when it comes to big enterprises with huge inventories, however, a logistic professional must find the correct item to deliver the product, as it consumes 50% of their time and leads to low efficiency and productivity. So how can AR help?
Solution: Logistics and warehouse specialists can use a head-mounted device (HMD for short) equipped with AR technology and get access to quick detection of products, manage inventory better, and get real-time instructions to navigate the product.
3. Field Service Collaboration
Problem: Today, enterprises seek options to collaborate better and bond with their teams through solid communication. However, poor team communication will lead to employee frustration, inefficient workflows, and unplanned downtimes.
Solution: With real-time AR assistance, you can facilitate communication with your on-site and off-site teams. Not only does it lead to better collaboration, but it also strengthens bonds with your teammates. It helps them work efficiently, deliver results through end-to-end assistance from experts, and get information within a given timeline.
4. Product Line Development
Problem: Deployment of quality products is one of the crucial points in product line development. An enterprise cannot take the risk of any faulty section as it can hurt the rest of the line and can lead to damaged products, poor-quality products, or unplanned downtimes.
Solution: With AR’s remote visual assistance, you allow your workforce to share information and make informed decisions to overcome hurdles. The on-site team can receive assistance from any part of the world. They can also review product line batches and conduct internal audits, remote inspections, and real-time MROs to finely tune production processes.
5. Industrial Training of the Workforce
Problem: One of the most effective ways for new technicians and engineers to learn their job is to get acquainted with experienced workers. But unfortunately, the training capabilities of many enterprises have been stretched thin. The main reason for it is the retirement of experienced and skilled technicians.
Solution: However, with AR, you can hire mentors and trainers from around the world to train your employees and make them aware of the latest industry trends and initiatives. They can also train their workforce through 3D AR Annotations of complex machines, digital manuals, step-by-step SOPs, and guides. This way, you can help to upskill and reskill your workforce.
6. Equipment Inspection and Reviews
Problem: To ensure the longevity of equipment and machinery, enterprises need to run regular inspections and reviews. With these regular inspections, businesses can run efficient operations and ensure the safety of their frontline workers. It further helps businesses diagnose and troubleshoot issues before they escalate.
Solution: With the help of expert opinion on real-time video sessions, your workforce can run comprehensive inspections and reviews on their daily operations. Equipment operators, inspectors, and safety engineers often use inspections and reviews to ensure job safety, improve maintenance scheduling, and reduce repair costs.
7. Quality Audits
Problem: Safety and quality are two essential aspects of the manufacturing industry and critical for companies to work upon. However, running these consistent safety audits with on-site professionals takes a lot of work. Also, enterprises must comply with laws and regulations and seek permission to conduct these audits.
Solution: Enterprises must run timely audits to ensure workplace safety and meet industry standards. With the help of AR, enterprises can merge the video screen of auditors and safety specialists with their workforce to access complete control over inspections from anywhere. Auditors can quickly pinpoint the areas that aren’t under compliance or at risk for future problems.
8. Equipment Installation
Problem: Installation of machines and equipment is a complex process. The enterprises depend on engineers’ availability, which is costly and time-consuming.
Solution: With AR-powered solutions, engineers can use their expertise to guide customers and other manufacturing sites about the installation process. They can provide accurate directions to the person on installing particular machinery. Since the support is in real-time, it becomes easier for the worker to complete the task in time with proper installation.
9. Real-time Troubleshooting
Problem: In manufacturing, equipment breakdowns and malfunctions can lead to costly downtime, decreased productivity, and increased maintenance costs. Troubleshooting these issues in real time is critical to minimize production losses and reduce operational inefficiencies.
Solution: Manufacturers can use AR for troubleshooting issues in real time and enhance their daily productivity. It will also help them run seamless operations with reduced downtime. The enterprises get access to lower maintenance costs by providing timely and accurate guidance to operators and maintenance personnel, enhancing their ability to identify and resolve issues quickly.
Companies Using AR in the Manufacturing Industry
TATA recently co-developed an end-to-end solution with Swedish industrial tools and manufacturers in two assembly plants. The solution was created to observe transparency throughout the supply chain – inbound or outbound.
This custom application solution includes integrations with ERP, shop floor control systems, and logistics. Some of the key functionalities that TATA included in its shop floor to improve the efficiency of its workforce by 30% include order management, kitting, electronic Kanban, digital work instructions, and real-time updates through dashboards. The enterprise also planned and reduced the assembly line from 3 days to 4 hours.
2. ANDRITZ Ritz
With the help of Siemens Teamcenter, ANDRITZ Ritz could quickly transfer project information from planning to a seamless production process. For each operator, a checklist was shown – it included the information needed to complete a process like CAM parts, CAD models, images, videos, tools needed, and more.
With direct access to project information, it became easier for ANDRITZ Ritz to reduce the machine’s idle time, increase the operator’s efficiency, improve product quality, and reduce manufacturing errors.
BMW invested in AR glasses and equipped its workers at the Munich plant to speed up the inventory identification process and reduce the error rate. The results of adoption of AR glasses led to some astonishing results.
There was a 22% decrease in inventory identification time and a 33% reduction in error rate. Thus, implementing AR might be expensive, but it will bring a significant ROI for your business in the long run.
With an in-depth analysis of the manufacturing operations and OEE drivers, DMG Mori partnered with Martin-Baker to reach 80% efficiency in OEE. The automation and software solution helped the enterprise monitor and detect tool wear and any related blockages.
The automated system further adjusts job sequences and sends failure notices to the central production monitoring control room so that everybody is aware of the progress in the manufacturing process. Together, these solutions could quickly determine and troubleshoot critical machining areas with real-time assistance and collaboration.
Porsche is introducing AGV (automated guided vehicle)-based assembly process for Taycan, its electrical model. However, Porsche used AGVs to transport vehicles between assembly stations and adopted a flexible production line concept. That means if a vehicle needs installation of special interior features, it can quickly leave the main assembly line and shift to the special features needed to customize the vehicle.
With this AGV-based production line, Porsche could save 30-40% capex than the traditional main line. In addition, it includes higher efficiency in operations and shorter ramp-up times.
Ford uses JAI machine vision cameras to check the quality control of the painting process. Through cameras, they can identify defects and dirt particles and improve car inspections by 50%. JAI’s machine vision system has 16 HD resolutions that can identify dirt smaller than a grain of salt.
The cameras take over 1000 images of one painted surface and create 3D AR models to inspect and detect defects. Fords continue implementing JAI to conduct automated vision-based inspections rather than human inspections because the defect detection rate has decreased by 90%. The JAI system can review 15 frames per second, fastening the operation process by huge margins.
Samsung is known for its technology; it now uses 3D vision scanning to tackle the growing demands and quality standards for LCD panels. The company has invested in 3D scan-based automated inspections that take less than 1 second of inspection time per screen.
With these new and enhanced 3D scanner-based automated inspections, Samsung can easily replace the manual processes. The 3D scanner system identifies internal panels and surface defects. It also increases the production line output, eliminates the inspection process bottleneck, and increases customer satisfaction.
8. Jabil Circuit
Jabil Circuit is gaining a 10% production yield through Tulip’s interactive work guidelines and instructions. The enterprise uses Tulip to communicate with experts and guide its electronics assembly process. The customized app helps operators to get visual instructions, step-by-step SOPs, and checklists to track and report issues in real-time.
Digitized work instructions and manuals have replaced paper-based work instructions and resulted in a 60% reduction in quality issues than a manual assembly line. Tulip’s analytic engine also analyzes all the reports generated so that Jabil Circuit can make informed decisions.
9. Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin has implemented digital manuals and standard operating procedures (SOPs) in the assembly process of F-35 fighter jets, resulting in a 30% increase in speed and a remarkable 96% improvement in accuracy. By leveraging augmented reality, Lockheed Martin has streamlined its assembly operations, leading to significant gains in efficiency and accuracy in producing F-35s.
The technicians now have access to up-to-date instructions that provide detailed guidance on assembling the complex components of the F-35 fighter jets. This digital approach allows faster and more accurate assembly, as technicians can easily access and follow the most current instructions, reducing errors and rework.
ThyssenKrupp, a leading elevator and escalator manufacturer, has improved customer service and expedited elevator repairs by connecting its 24,000 field service technicians based in the United States. ThyssenKrupp aims to enhance its service capabilities and provide its customers with prompt and efficient elevator maintenance and repair services through advanced technology and connectivity.
By leveraging real-time data, remote monitoring, and diagnostics tools, ThyssenKrupp’s field service technicians can proactively identify and address elevator issues, reducing downtime and minimizing disruptions to building owners and occupants. With optimized scheduling, routing, and communication enabled through connectivity, ThyssenKrupp can improve response times and update customers on the status of their elevator repairs. This investment in technology underscores ThyssenKrupp’s commitment to leveraging innovation to serve its customers better and ensure superior service delivery in the elevator industry.
Plutomen’s Role in Empowering Manufacturing Enterprises
As an AR-powered company, Plutomen significantly empowers manufacturing enterprises by providing innovative AR solutions. These solutions help enterprises enhance the workforce’s productivity, efficiency, and safety in manufacturing processes.
Here is how Plutomen’s AR solutions can empower manufacturing enterprises:
- Remote Assistance and Collaboration: With Plutomen Connect, you can enable remote assistance and collaboration, allowing experts to guide workers in real time from a remote location. This can reduce the need for physical presence, save time and costs, and enable faster decision-making, mainly when experts are unavailable on-site.
- Custom AR Applications: With Plutomen Connect, you can develop custom AR applications tailored to the unique needs of your manufacturing enterprises. These applications are designed to address specific challenges, optimize processes, and provide unique value propositions for the manufacturing industry.
- Integration with Existing Systems: Plutomen Connect is a device-agnostic platform easily integrated with existing devices and manufacturing systems. These systems include MES (Manufacturing Execution Systems), ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), and other software applications to provide manufacturing enterprises with a seamless and integrated experience.
- Digitized Checklists: Receive continuous support and updates through digitized checklists. With these checklists, you can receive updates about your workforce, ongoing projects, and teams’ productivity and efficiency.
- Smart Workflows: Get smart workflows that help you provide visual overlays on real-world objects, allowing manufacturing workers to understand complex processes better, visualize assembly steps, and receive real-time guidance.
- Maintenance and Repair: Plutomen Workflow can streamline maintenance and repair processes by providing AR overlays highlighting components and offering real-time feedback on repairs. This can help reduce downtime, improve maintenance efficiency, and extend the lifespan of manufacturing equipment.
- Quality Control and Inspection: With Plutomen Workflow, you can improve quality control and inspection processes by overlaying digital annotations on physical objects, enabling workers to detect defects, measure dimensions, and verify product quality in real time. This can help reduce defects, improve product quality, and increase customer satisfaction.
- Enhanced Training: Through Plutomen Assist, you provide a self-assistance platform to your workforce. Here the workforce can use 3D AR annotations to bridge their knowledge gaps about complex machines. This can help improve your workforce’s knowledge, reduce errors, speed up the training process, and improve the accuracy of tasks, leading to increased productivity and reduced downtime.
- Onboarding of New Employees: With Plutomen Assist, you can quickly onboard new employees and frontline workers through proper training and real-time safety and work instructions. Through this, you can prevent accidents, reduce risks, and ensure compliance with safety regulations, leading to a safer work environment and better onboard training for manufacturing workers.