Industrial Augmented Reality for the Automotive and Aerospace Industries

Industrial Augmented Reality for the Automotive and Aerospace Industries

Getting AR into the hands of workers in the field can reduce return rates, improve customer service and differentiate brands. Typical applications include remote assistance, annotated virtual models and see-what-I-see video sharing.

AR can also help with training new industrial workers on procedures and equipment operation, which reduces costs and risk. Other benefits include capturing and analyzing manual process data like cycle times and defects, which can drive operational efficiency.

Real-time Training

Whether it’s for service inspection, quality checks or assembly, AR allows employees to sharpen their skills without being exposed to real-life danger. In addition, it helps them perform tasks more quickly and accurately, thus reducing production costs.

Moreover, it provides a safe digital environment for a variety of training scenarios including high-risk ones like defense, disaster management, firefighting and riot control. It also reduces the learning curve for new machinery or equipment, which saves time and money.

Once the CAD and other data are prepared, AR authoring software is used to create an application customized for the hardware platform it will be deployed on. This tool features 2D and 3D graphical editing tools, scripting options and visual editors to streamline the creation of AR applications. It also stores libraries in the cloud, making it easy to access and update them.

AR applications for knowledge transfer close the manufacturing skills gap by enabling workers to quickly access and understand complex work instructions. For example, a worker can get step-by-step instruction on how to operate an industrial machine through visual representations of nuts, bolts, wires and part numbers. This kind of task assistance can greatly reduce the error rate during production, improve the quality of the final product and decrease the training duration. It can even replace trainers who are either unavailable or too costly to travel.

Visual Guidance

As a real-time on-the-job instructor, industrial AR delivers training to workers as they perform their jobs. Whether they need to disassemble an engine, repair a machine, industrial augmented reality or perform a routine inspection, this technology provides clear illustrations and digital checklists directly in front of the worker’s eyes while leaving their hands free to continue working. In automotive and aerospace industries, for example, AR solutions from Vuzix enable technicians to instantly access detailed maintenance instructions or assembly steps so that they can quickly execute tasks with minimal training time.

For new technicians, remote visual guidance in AR eliminates the need for costly human instructors. For example, an AR-enabled smartphone can display a virtual 3D model of a machine, with interactive controls that allow the technician to select a particular part and follow step-by-step instructions. This makes it easy for novices to learn as they work, increasing their confidence and accuracy, while speeding up the process of onboarding new employees.

For more complex machines, AR also supports predictive and proactive maintenance, reducing unexpected downtimes. It enables the quick transfer of critical information between teams and facilitates collaborative efforts in remote locations. Moreover, the ability to compare machine performance data with goals and results — a key element of Industry 4.0 — takes place in real-time on an AR screen, with no need for manual transfer to paper, which can be error-prone or delayed.

Real-time Data Collection

Industrial AR allows workers to access technical documents, stream instructional videos and receive 3D guidance while they work hands-free. It also supports remote collaboration and allows teams to share virtual workspaces.

Manufacturers can use this technology to improve workflows, reduce waste and increase productivity across multiple sites. It can also help with training new staff, particularly in unfamiliar protocols, equipment operating procedures and standard factory floor conventions. This can cut down on production inefficiencies, safety issues and training costs.

The real-time data collected by AR provides a clearer picture of operational efficiency, tracking manual process metrics as well as machine automation. This includes cycle times, defects and other data points. Using this information, manufacturers can quickly identify and fix problems in real time and drive operational consistency.

Augmented reality can also support assembly, providing detailed digital work instructions that guide employees. For example, if you were assembling an automotive headlining, the instructions could superimpose visual representations of nuts, bolts and wires to ensure proper placement. This would not only save time, but also eliminate errors resulting in quality improvements and productivity gains. This is similar to the way that a 3d model can show you the correct placement for a piece of machinery, but without the need for a trained engineer or technician to be physically present.

Collaboration

As industrial companies grapple with the industry’s worst workforce shortage in decades and the most experienced workers retire at an unprecedented rate, it’s vital to find new ways to improve worker productivity and efficiency. Industrial augmented reality is one way to accomplish that goal.

AR can help industrial processes with a variety of tasks including visual quality control, maintenance, assembly, and training. Unlike 2D drawings or PDF instructions, industrial AR displays information directly on the product to give employees clear and concise visual guidance. This saves time and minimizes errors.

For example, Siemens’ AssistAR uses an AR headset to guide technicians through the process of disassembling or repairing an engine. The software highlights and animates each element to show how to remove, replace industrial augmented reality or assemble components. It also gives step-by-step instructions and enables the technician to view the engine in 3D.

Aveva’s Richmond adds that “Augmented reality solutions are a great fit for manufacturing operations because they allow for remote, hands-free interaction with digital content that is displayed right in front of the worker’s line of sight. This allows them to process the information while keeping their hands free to continue working, which is very important for manufacturing processes.” For more advanced applications, project-based AR uses a combination of vision sensors and projectors to overlay virtual steps-by-step interactive graphics onto any work surface.

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