(XR) Extended Reality in Manufacturing: Enhancing Efficiency and Collaboration
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As the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted global manufacturing outputs, over 75% of the world’s manufacturing operations have been affected. Many organizations have resorted to the latest technologies and shifted from traditional workplace practices to more resilient means of operating. One of the key drivers of this transformation has been the use of technology, particularly extended reality (XR).
Extended Reality (XR), which is a blend of Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and Mixed Reality, offers unique opportunities for manufacturers to improve their operations and adapt to disruptions like a pandemic. For example, an engineer wearing an AR headset could collaborate with an onsite worker and guide them with step-by-step manufacturing work instructions on how to perform the necessary repairs.
XR is widely used to conduct remote factory tours, enabling customers and partners to experience a manufacturing facility without physically being there. Let’s deep dive and see how exactly XR is enhancing efficiency and collaboration in manufacturing.
The Emerging Landscape of (XR) Extended Reality in Manufacturing
In the manufacturing industry, this shift towards advanced technologies has been a game-changer. According to the State of Manufacturing Report, 95% of companies have been impacted by the pandemic, leading to a significant increase in the adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies such as advanced data analytics, the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and robotics.
However, one technology that has particularly stood out as a promising solution is extended reality (XR). This technology, which includes augmented, mixed, and virtual reality, allows companies to merge the physical and digital worlds, providing workers with real-time digital guidance and support. In 2022, 91% of companies increased their digital transformation investment, with XR being one of the top value-driving solutions. The adoption of XR has enabled manufacturers to overcome the challenges posed by the pandemic, such as remote work and social distancing, by providing immersive training simulations and remote collaboration capabilities.
XR has allowed companies to improve their operations and processes by providing workers with digital overlays and step-by-step instructions, reducing errors and increasing efficiency. This technology has also allowed manufacturers to create virtual factory tours, providing customers with an interactive and engaging experience, without having to physically visit the facility.
Benefits of Extended Reality (XR) in Manufacturing
Using XR in manufacturing can offer significant advantages, making it a justifiable choice. What are some of potential benefits of extended reality in manufacturing? Let’s find out!
Extended reality (XR) in Manufacturing is transforming the way businesses operate by cutting down on time and cost while streamlining operations. Take Boeing, for instance. With over 130 miles of internal wiring in each aircraft, their engineers used to sift through paper documents filled with diagrams and schemes, leading to a high cognitive load and increased risk of errors during assembly. However, with the implementation of augmented reality (AR) smart glasses, the engineers can now follow line-of-sight instructions, reducing the assembly time of wires by 25% and minimizing the risk of costly mistakes. With XR, businesses can take their operations to new heights while enhancing the safety and efficiency of their processes.
One of the most significant benefits of XR in manufacturing is its ability to provide instant advice and guidance in case of a manufacturing line breakdown. When a problem arises, teams can quickly access XR solutions to diagnose the issue and get real-time support from experts located elsewhere. This not only saves time and money but also helps prevent costly downtime and delays. For instance, in the automotive industry, XR is revolutionizing the way technicians and engineers work together. At some car dealerships, technicians can use XR headsets to communicate with remote specialists who can guide them through complex repairs. By leveraging XR, technicians can diagnose problems more quickly and accurately, leading to faster repairs and improved customer satisfaction.
Upskilling and Reskilling
Extended reality (XR) is revolutionizing the way manufacturing companies approach staff training. With XR solutions, new employees can be placed in virtual training situations that closely simulate real-world work processes. This immersive training experience helps them develop the skills they need to succeed on the production floor, without risking any mistakes or downtime. XR allows subject matter experts to create detailed, step-by-step digital instructions overlaid on real-world equipment. This means that trainees can learn from experts’ knowledge and experience without having to rely on costly on-the-job training. This not only reduces training costs but also ensures that employees receive consistent, high-quality training, regardless of their location. With XR, manufacturing companies can streamline their training processes, reduce costs, and improve the overall efficiency of their operations. By providing a hands-on, immersive training experience, employees can develop the skills they need to succeed, while minimizing risks and downtime. From reducing training time to improving performance, XR is transforming the way companies approach staff training, leading to increased productivity and success.
Maximizing Product Quality
In manufacturing, quality issues can have a significant impact on a company’s bottom line. XR tools offer engineers the ability to view systems remotely through headsets, providing an immersive and detailed view of the equipment. This technology enables experts to identify issues from a distance, saving time and money while minimizing the need for in-person inspections. By leveraging XR, manufacturing teams can streamline their quality control processes, reduce the risk of errors, and improve the overall efficiency of their operations. One of the most significant benefits of XR is its ability to overcome the challenges of remote work and the lack of in-house experts. By using XR tools, engineers and technicians can collaborate in real-time, regardless of their location. This empowers companies to access the expertise they need, when they need it, without relying on costly in-person visits or hiring new staff.
Applications & Use cases of Extended Reality in Manufacturing
Extended reality is revolutionizing the way manufacturing companies operate by introducing new use cases that optimize processes and streamline collaboration. Here are three key areas where extended reality is making a difference in the manufacturing industry:
XR in Training and Simulation for Factory Workers
With extended reality, trainers can remotely connect with learners from anywhere in the world. Whether it’s an upskilling module or critical training for new machinery, XR allows users to develop skills and knowledge through interaction with holographic 3D content. Learning in a virtual environment without any risk of costly damage or harm motivates users to further their discovery and exploration, leading to deeper understanding.
XR-Enabled Remote Collaboration in Manufacturing
Immersive technology, such as Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 Remote Assist, enables users to collaborate using video, audio, holographic tools and real-time document sharing. Experts are just a second away from assisting users with learning, and work can be observed in real-time and remotely verified once complete. This not only improves the efficiency of manufacturing processes but also reduces the need for in-person collaboration, making it ideal for remote work situations.
Xr-Assisted Maintenance and Repair in Manufacturing
XR-enabled work instructions can help reduce the time and cost associated with maintenance and repair. Experts can effectively create, update, and distribute step-by-step work instructions to their technicians. By providing technicians with the right information at the right time, they can work more efficiently and complete tasks faster. This can reduce downtime and increase the overall productivity of the maintenance and repair team.
XR in Manufacturing: Prospering Future Lies Ahead
Extended reality is transforming the manufacturing industry and accelerating the pace of innovation. It is revolutionizing the way companies collaborate, train, and optimize their operations, leading to increased productivity, reduced costs, and improved quality. By leveraging immersive technology such as augmented reality in manufacturing, mixed reality in manufacturing companies can improve safety, competence, and efficiency, while also reducing the risk of human error. With the ability to bring together teams from different locations and provide real-time feedback, extended reality has the potential to revolutionize the manufacturing industry, creating a more connected, efficient, and safer workplace. At Plutomen, our AR-based solutions are designed to optimize manufacturing processes, improve training programs, and enhance collaboration, leading to improved productivity and profitability. Contact us today to learn how we can help you leverage the power of extended reality in your manufacturing operations.
XR (Extended Reality) technology can be used in manufacturing to improve productivity, reduce errors, and enhance the overall efficiency of operations. One of the most common applications of XR in manufacturing is in the form of virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) simulations, which can be used to train workers and test new processes without the need for physical prototypes. Additionally, XR can be used to visualize and analyze large data sets, monitor equipment performance, and streamline maintenance operations.
Extended reality has the potential to significantly improve worker safety and training in manufacturing by creating immersive, interactive simulations that allow workers to practice performing complex tasks and operating machinery in a virtual environment. This reduces the risk of accidents and injuries in the workplace and allows workers to develop their skills and confidence in a safe and controlled setting. Furthermore, XR can be used to monitor workers' movements and identify potential hazards in real-time, enabling supervisors to intervene and prevent accidents before they occur.
Extended reality is expected to continue to evolve and expand in the manufacturing industry in the future, with advances in technology and increased adoption by companies. This could include the development of new types of XR hardware and software, as well as the integration of XR with other emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things. As XR becomes more widespread, it is likely to become an increasingly important tool for manufacturers looking to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and stay competitive in a rapidly changing industry.
With more than 12+ years of experience in the world of enterprises, technology, and metaverse, Keyur Bhalavat is leading Plutomen to gain meaningful partnerships & to have a strong clientele network. He is one of the board members of GESIA (Gujarat IT Association Ahmedabad).
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