Are you leveraging Augmented Reality in your ETO Business Process?

The first developments of augmented reality (AR) technology came in 1968, when an AR head-mounted display was created that superimposed virtual information onto the physical environment. While AR is becoming increasingly popular across several industries, the question often asked is, how does the world of manufacturing keep up with the opportunities available to them?

From consumer brands like Ikea, to cutting edge game developers and social media channels, AR has been transforming our physical environment and interactive virtual world, however there are still very few examples of AR being used to support industrial work processes and facilities. This is changing though with modern manufacturing, which involves putting together hundreds and thousands of pieces in complex assemblies at quickly as possible. 

Regardless of what is being manufactured, perhaps the latest smartphone or the world’s largest airliners, assembly instructions need to be followed. In manufacturing, one of the issues with assigning newly trained talent, is that they are unfamiliar with necessary protocols, equipment, and procedures, which change frequently. This can lead to not only safety issues but inefficiencies across the board. With the right AR applications and devices, these inexperienced or newly trained team members can be trained, informed, and protected at all times without wasting additional resources.

There are some additional areas where AR would be beneficial to the manufacturing industry. For example, with many processes involving hundreds of components being constructed into a precise and often constrained sequence, AR can provide the opportunity for assembly instructions to be automatically updated onto a worker’s mobile device for immediate access. This ensures the worker has the most up to date instruction documents at their fingertips, avoiding the possibility of leveraging out of date assembly instructions at the time of service while maximizing time and resources.

In manufacturing, the technology can be used in many other ways, as overlay text, stats, or additional information relevant to the worker’s current task. Looking at a furnace or piece of equipment might show its current running temperature, revealing it as hot and unsafe to touch.

When it comes to order fulfillment and warehouse organization, employees often times multitask to manage orders and regular duties. When an order comes in, a worker manually checks the information, finds the necessary product or goods, scans it and reports the data, delivers it to the loading dock and then signs off on the order. This is a lot of manual work, which can drastically increase the time it takes to finish a simple, yet tedious process. 

With emerging AR technologies, however, those same workers could tap into a connected system that identifies where the products or goods are located, allowing them to work at a much faster pace. They might even be able to scan the necessary information using the AR system, which could then be designed to propagate the order, automating a large portion of the fulfillment process, avoiding mistakes while creating additional efficiencies.

Augmented reality is becoming so much more than just placing virtual filters over machine assemblies on a shop floor. AR technology is also being incorporated into support applications so that companies can better provide service to customers, streamline field work and create efficiencies across their businesses. 

So, while AR and other mixed reality concepts are only just beginning to see their value in industrial and manufacturing sectors, the possibilities of what can be achieved by integrating them into everyday practice is about to make exciting steps forward. Are you leveraging Augmented Reality in your everyday business yet?

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About the Author: CDS Visual

CDS Visual is helping lead the digital business revolution for industries all over the world. Whether you’re an OEM or parts distributor, we will help you convert prospects into buyers – while reducing engineering costs.

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