Six applications of AR in Manufacturing

Deeptha Sreedhar

Deeptha Sreedhar

I’m a Chennai-based Writer and Journalist. I handle the Digital Content for Appearition. My super-cool colleagues design, innovate and create magic in Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality. I use this space to present their magic in text. When I am not editing or scouring for story ideas one bit before hell breaks loose, I enjoy reading crime-fiction books and watching similar television series, do a bit of experimental cooking and some travel to wherever my bank balance supports upon paying all bills.
Deeptha Sreedhar

Manufacturing, generally, is a highly skilled and elaborate process. This leaves very little room for trial, testing and error rectification. Augmented Reality has proven to eliminate these three across various manufacturing processes.

A look at some process enhancements in this field:

Assembly

This process involves putting together several hundred or thousands of components as per a sequence. Assembling spans across products small or big. From smartphone assembly to aircraft, mis-arranging a small piece would result in an error. AR enables visualising of these parts to the smallest range. Boeing currently uses an AR app to facilitate assembly has had over 90% perfection in operation enhancement using it.

Maintenance

Apart from assembly, AR can be used to aid in the maintenance of machinery and equipment. Mitsubishi Electric has been developing maintenance-support technology using augmented reality based on a 3D model that enables users to confirm the order of inspection on an AR display and then enter inspection results with their voice.

AR/VR can reduce workflow time on inspection & maintenance and assist in detecting errors. Since 2011, Airbus has been using AR technology to improve efficiency in its quality control. Using its Supply Augmented Reality Tool (SART), Airbus employees can use visual overlay images on real systems to identify the faulty parts for repair. These kind of AR activities save time in creating an incident report and follow ups by enabling on-the spot solution.

(Image courtesy of Vital Enterprises)

Training

90% of what’s transmitted to the brain is visual memory. This basic function enables AR to provide the unprecedented edge over traditional paper and print training manuals. Also, this facilitates self-training for trainees as opposed to vocational physical induction. At a Boeing training, trainees using AR completed the work 35% faster than the trainees using traditional 2-D blue prints.

Quality Assurance

Metrology in general, and quality assurance (QA) more specifically, offers numerous potential applications for AR. SlashGear reported on a pilot program running at a Porsche assembly plant in Leipzig, Germany. A demonstration by the company showed Porsche technicians using augmented reality as a tool in the quality assurance process.

The basic idea is that quality professionals can take photos of parts or assemblies on vehicles under inspection, and then compare those images to ones provided by the company’s suppliers via an augmented reality overlay. Features that are out of specification can be highlighted by the overlay, enabling the Porsche technicians to identify the issue quickly and intuitively.

Airbus has been using a “Mixed Reality Application,” or MiRA, to integrate digital mock-ups into production environments, giving assembly workers access to complete 3D models of the aircraft under production. MiRA reduced the time required to inspect the 60,000 – 80,000 brackets in the A380 fuselage from 3 weeks to 3 days.

Logistics

Often, it takes time to locate the right aisle/stack whilst arranging or onboarding goods. In 2015, Logistics firm DHL tested an AR program to manage stacking at a Netherlands inventory. The pilot proved that AR ‘vision picking’ resulted in 25% increase in efficiency. The staff worked with AR glasses to assist the picking task. They reported faster and error free task completion using this.

(Photo Courtesy: DHL)

Customer Support

Xerox is using AR to connect remote technical experts directly with customers. This has increased by 76% the rate at which technical problems are resolved by customers without any on-site help, cutting travel costs for Xerox and minimizing downtime for customers. They witnessed customer satisfaction rates rise to 95%.

 

(With excerpts and photos from engineereing.com)