Industrial Augmented Reality

Industrial Augmented Reality

Augmented reality (AR) is one of the most promising technologies for industrial applications. It has the potential to improve productivity, safety and training, while reducing maintenance costs and mobilisation time.

Digital AR work instructions standardize training across enterprises. They are updated at the click of a button and display information for each worker, avoiding the pitfalls that can occur with oral or paper instructions.

Design

Industrial AR systems provide valuable information and guidance for manual operations, reduce time spent on training and instruction and help workers perform tasks with less error. The benefits include reduced downtime, cost savings and improved production efficiency.

Using AR, employees can view structured 3D information in front of their eyes while having their hands free. This can be done with a headset or through mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones. In the case of headsets, there are several ways to implement this technology, including marker-based methods and natural feature tracking (NFT) technologies, which do not require physical markers to function.

NFT-based AR applications also allow for the display of virtual instructions that can be used in a real-world environment, without requiring the wearer to look down at their industrial augmented reality device or to move their head. This type of AR can be especially useful in assembly and quality control, where it can significantly reduce the time it takes to complete a task and identify errors quickly.

The use of AR can also improve safety in manufacturing, for example by allowing workers to access tracker data and real-time warnings on the performance of machines or other equipment. It can also be helpful in onboarding new employees, by providing them with a visual representation of the workflow and enabling them to understand their surroundings and responsibilities.

Assembly

A growing body of research explores how AR can aid assembly operations, from providing digital work instructions to superimposing information onto physical objects. For example, when assembling automotive headliners, workers need to know exactly where to place the padding, glue, wire harness and other components. By using AR, they can see a template of what to produce in real time and avoid errors.

For more complex assembly tasks, tablet AR systems present digital work instructions in an easy-to-read format. The information is superimposed on the object, and the user can move the model in 3D to view it from different angles. Users can also zoom in to get a closer look at specific components. In addition, users can access important machine data such as barcodes and expiration dates.

The use of AR enables new employees to get up to speed quickly on processes that are often complex and time-consuming. In addition, existing employees can transfer their expert knowledge to junior colleagues. This helps to shorten the training period and make Volvo a more attractive employer.

Several studies have also explored the use of AR for maintenance tasks. In [151], a system that uses the Microsoft HoloLens to provide workers with instructions and visual assistance during a maintenance task is described. The system has been tested with four groups of test participants and found to be effective.

Maintenance

Maintenance of industrial equipment is an essential part of any production process, and it’s no secret that it can also be extremely time-consuming. But augmented reality is taking preventive, corrective and predictive maintenance to the next level, helping to reduce equipment downtime, increase productivity, improve product quality and profitability, and more.

AR can help to streamline and speed up routine tasks by bringing information directly into the user’s field of view. Using the same technology that powers smartphone games like Pokemon GO, AR allows for the superposition of real-time graphics and data on top of the physical world, making it easy for personnel to track and access equipment information.

This can be used for tracking and logging maintenance activities, providing remote support to technicians in the field, and improving training. Moreover, AR can be used to identify mechanical anomalies and provide the technician with suggested solutions for rapid repair.

AR can even be used to facilitate the replacement of a specific component or machine. This is achieved through the use of a digital model of the actual object that resides in the cloud, or by scanning and digitizing a physical product to generate a virtual replica. AR software can then link this virtual replica with business systems and external sources to dynamically display up-to-date information on the object.

Inspection

Performing inspections and quality assurance in industrial environments can be extremely time-consuming for workers. Especially for processes that require complex work steps and an individual knowledge base, such as inspections of complex infrastructure like bridges [6]. Using AR to support these types of tasks can save workers time and reduce the number of errors that occur during work.

Standardized work procedures can be excellently mapped with industrial augmented reality AR solutions, for example with structured AR work instructions that automatically appear in the worker’s field of vision. This allows employees to easily complete work without having to search for the corresponding paper work instruction.

This allows the employee to concentrate on the task at hand and to perform it in a more focused way. The result is a significantly shorter process times and a higher level of productivity.

However, it is important to note that the use of industrial augmented reality can only be successful if adequate training and education are provided before the technology is rolled out. Otherwise, the system can distract workers from their work and lead to increased error rates. In addition, it is advisable that an appropriate project team is responsible for the introduction of AR systems to ensure smooth implementation. This also includes identifying potential barriers and risks early on in the project and adjusting accordingly.

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