What is the impact of ‘Augmented Reality’ on productivity?

Expect Increased Efficiency and Reduced Errors!

Industry 4.0 aims to create the ‘smart factory’ with the power of automation and other technologies. The effect is quite prevalent across the globe. There is innovation happening in every nook and corner to streamline the working and produce efficient outcomes. This revolution has redefined business and service models.

AR is not new to us. We’ve seen it in movies. We’ve used the gaming, education, etc. applications. But, now the focus is on leveraging this technology for the industrial purpose. Augmented reality industrial applications are projecting new a path to productivity gains. The industries are paving their way towards going digital and harnessing automated workflows. Augmented Reality (AR) is supporting this digital transformation.

GE Healthcare Case Study

Let us consider the case of GE Healthcare. Jimmie Beacham is the chief engineer and in-charge of GE Healthcare’s futuristic laboratory in Waukesha. He implemented the AR concept in the factory to enhance worker productivity. As stated in the interview, the system included the Kinect and a camera to follow the worker’s movements. It was then fed into to a computer that stores the assembly instructions. The computer controls an overhead projector that displays the manufacturing steps on the workbench. Based on the visual and sensory feedback, the system signals the operator immediately if an error occurs or guides them to the next step.

It was possible to detect and control the mistakes, especially at critical steps. Thus, they were successful in reducing the scope of errors. As per the reports, AR is one of the many tools GE is applying to fulfill its vision of the digital “Brilliant Factory.” According to statistics, “a warehouse worker at GE Healthcare receiving a new picklist order through AR completed the task 46% faster than when using the standard process, which relies on a paper list and item searches on a workstation.”

The impact of AR is visible. Economist Marco Annunziata and Margid Abraham mentioned in Harvard Business Review a Boeing study that found that AR improved productivity in wiring harness assembly by 25%. Additional cases from GE and several other firms show an average productivity improvement of 32%.

It doesn’t stop here. Jimmie’s team is planning to feed the AR’s visual information into a database and analyze it for insights with apps running on Predix.  They have also started expanding the scope of their AR system and plan to connect it to face recognition technology, collaborative robots, or cobots, and Predix, GE’s software platform for the Industrial Internet. According to Beacham, plant managers can ensure that workers at specific workstations are imparted with the required training using facial recognition.

It also will automatically sign the employee into GE’s IT systems. Furthermore, workers can start or resume the job after a break. In future, the AR system can be extended to cobots allowing the team in Waukesha to expand the palette of tasks it covers to the “4Ds — dirty, dangerous, difficult and dull jobs.”

How will AR future-proof the industrial operations?

The above example of GE Healthcare clearly shows that AR is not just a gimmick. Augmented reality industrial applications are a truth. In fact, it is a game-changing technology to reorganize various industrial processes like-

1. Product Design and Development

Particularly in the automotive industry, companies are using AR to visualize and create vehicle dimensions. AR headsets along with CAD systems can be used to design and test products in a standard way rather than an expensive prototype. 3D design models will give a clear picture of the actual product as shown here.

2. Maintenance and Inspection

Many companies have found wide applications of AR in maintenance and inspection services. Instead of browsing the manuals, AR accessories can be used. A worker can look at the equipment and be able to visualize the solution. Here’s a video showcasing the use of AR in the repair of machine tools with AR.

3. Multipart Assembly

Manufacturing involves a lot of components, precision, and safety. AR helps the workers to quit using PDF or relying on manual instructions. AR glasses will display the exact and updated instructions at each stage. Boeing’s aerospace assembly trial proved this fact. The technicians wore Google Glass headsets while doing the complex wiring task. They used voice controls to query for specific instructions. Answers appeared on the headset displays.

4. Field Service Training and Expert Support

Training workers on-the-go with the help of AR is one of the greatest benefits. Also, whilst they are in the field wearing their AR glasses, they can seek expert help. The experts can visualize the actual problem and give a proper solution. Bosch Rexroth pushed augmented reality software and smart glasses from XMReality to enable automation and drive system providing new service and support programme with remote help for planned and unplanned incidents.

Apart from the above-mentioned processes, augmented reality industrial applications in conjunction with IoT will be widely used for quality assurance, proactive maintenance, alignment of the complex assemblies and reshaping the factory and field operations.

Data – An Essential Factor

Amidst all the benefits of AR, let’s not forget that data is essential. To realize the greatest benefits of augmented reality industrial applications, it is necessary to manage and use the data. AR is incomplete without data management. Industries eyeing the AR implementation should consider using data effectively.

For instance, a bespoke cloud-based solution can help to manage and share the information in real-time. Industries can use AR to capture data in any format. Use this data to analyze and plan for next-level operations. In essence, data holds the key to success of augmented reality industrial applications.

Achieve More with AR

Adding AR to your business will need a strategical planning. It comes at a cost. So, it’s necessary to understand and scrutinize the business requirements. Review the acceptance and budget. Then, take a decision to install the augmented reality industrial applications. Besides that, don’t forget the path to digitalization. Consult our experts for more information.

Welcome to the world of AR!