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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.


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.


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 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.


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.

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.


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.