AR in Manufacturing Design Process

It is long past the time when Augmented and Virtual Reality were exclusive to gaming. From medicine to logistics, from construction to training, several industries have discovered the advantages of immersive technologies.

Let’s take the manufacturing sector: the need to improve production planning and programming, rapid prototyping and “time to market”, finds its concrete answers in the use of Augmented, Virtual and Mixed Reality.

This is also confirmed by PwC research, according to which the use of AR, VR, MR in the development of products and services could alone increase GDP by 360 billion dollars by 2030.

AR and VR Improve Product Design Process

Data from the 2019 Annual Manufacturing Report also highlights that with AR, VR, and MR, companies can speed up and optimize their design and manufacturing cycle.

However, the report shows that one in four manufacturers are unsure of how to implement immersive technologies in manufacturing.

To respond to competition, the most innovative companies are always bringing new products onto the market. How do they do it? They understand that with immersive technologies they can reduce the time required for the creative process and product design without affecting product quality.

Moreover, with smart maintenance they can avoid downtime and failures that could have negative repercussions on turnover and brand awareness.

Ford is among the manufacturers that are using immersive technologies to improve the industrial design process. To design cars, Ford engineers use the Microsoft Hololens visor in Mixed Reality: in this way,they quickly make changes to cars, visualizing them immediately on an existing physical vehicle, and test the designs. This reduces the time required to build physical prototypes and see how they work.

Immersive Technologies: Advantages in Production

Ford is not an isolated case: other automotive companies use Virtual Reality to control, speed up and optimize their prototyping and collaboration phase, and to bridge the physical distances imposed, for example, by pandemic, among other things.

Innovation also means planning production step by step. Take the case of the Boeing 737 Max 10. To build it, mechanics used wearable devices in VR. Thanks to these devices, professionals were able to see how to go about installing the Boeing’s complex structures and what precise tools to use for its assembly.

In the design and production phase, the use of the Digital Twin is also becoming more widespread: with the Digital Twin model, technicians are able to quickly identify any problems in the product, repairs and maintenance.

How to use AR on Assembly Lines

Augmented Reality ensures concrete benefits on assembly lines, an important and delicate stage of the production process. Smart glasses connected to collaborative platforms such as E4T show field operators real-time instructions on how to assemble a product.

Imagine technicians working in “mission critical” contexts such as construction sites, where safety is paramount, or in the energy sector. They have a huge amount of information to get the job done. They may need immediate feedback at some point to continue.

With traditional methods, they’re forced to stop and get off the dock or wind turbine to check the manual. Instead, with AR wearable devices, connected to a “ready2use” platform, they can see the digital instructions immediately on the display and continue working “hands-free.”

During the checklist, they can also contact the experts remotely (with the Eye4Task software you can request assistance from the Support Room) and complete the tasks together.

Compared to standard methods, with Augmented Reality and wearable devices, intervention times are reduced; productivity and performance of operators in the field are improved. In addition, collaboration between experts is more continuous, profitable.

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