AR in Manufacturing – Door to the Industrial Metaverse?

Augmented Reality (AR) is an interesting technology in manufacturing scenarios, with the potential of unlocking efficiency outlined by the Industry 4.0 vision.

But what do the use cases look like in practice and is the hardware really suitable for daily use in production?

AR in Manufacturing – A different story

Technologies that seek to connect the digital world and the physical world more deeply have not just been around since the Metaverse push by Meta Platforms Inc. formerly Facebook.

The flop of Google Glass is certainly a prominent example, but it is also far from the first attempt in this direction.

But use cases in the industrial sector literally have to be seen through a different lens.

In fact, as I argue in a previous article, I believe the industrial metaverse will celebrate its first major breakthroughs.

In my opinion, we do not have sufficient hardware especially for the use cases in the consumer area. The contrasts are too weak, the devices too heavy, the heat development too strong and the battery life too short.

So why am I predicting the first breakthroughs in the industrial sector of all places?

What are Augmented Reality Use Cases in Manufacturing?

I have brought an examples to explain this.

The example revolves around the topic of worker assistance. As the Amazon example (Amazon to hire 150,000 workers ahead of holiday season) certainly shows in a very extreme way, companies have to be able to deal with a growing number of unskilled workers.

That’s always been the case in manufacturing, where hordes of jobbers invaded the production areas at vacation time.

The error rates regularly paint a bleak picture in this context.

One way to address this is through customized worker instructions. After all, no worker reads 30 pages of paper or PDFs in reality anyway. Or they are read, but not understood.

Innovative companies try to present only the information relevant in the current context to the worker by means of modular work instructions.

However, today it is quite a lot of work to create the modular work instructions. Also, text as a medium is not optimal for this scenario. Images or videos are better.

Hardware limitations do not allow for the full potential

When you think of augmented reality, everyone sees a person with glasses on in their mind’s eye. AR enriches the view with supporting information.

However, for the use case described above, AR is already interesting for the pure design of the work instruction. For example, explanatory text can be dispensed with if images are enhanced with AR elements and short animations.

This way you get better instructions in less time.

Of course, the full potential would unfold if the workers had the animation and/or cues projected directly onto an object they were holding in their hands. But there we are at least not yet for longer working hours, from above-mentioned limitations of the devices.

This may already make sense today for short assignments, such as machine maintenance, where a service technician deployment can then be saved.

What do you think? Where are we today and what use cases of AR in Manufacturing make sense to you? Let me know here in the comments or on Twitter.

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Image Source: Pixabay, Pixabay License

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