Augmented reality (AR) has gained much attention in both the business and consumer markets. Although AR technology has been around for at least 15 years, it has only recently been widely adopted in the manufacturing industry. This adoption rate is fueled by breakthroughs in the cost and applicability of AR technology. Most smart devices can now take advantage of AR capabilities at a more affordable price than before. Businesses large and small have now realized the capabilities of AR and are pursuing new AR-based opportunities to boost operational productivity and enhance competitiveness. Join Tech Town right into the main topic of this article.
What is Augmented Reality (AR)?
In the industrial manufacturing sector, augmented reality depicts two different environments that converge or blend in a direction that enhances efficiency and performance for factories. The first is “real” (what can be seen, physically present to the eye) and the second is “virtual” (not “real” but computer-generated). In the event that both these environments can interact and influence each other continuously, what lies in between is augmented reality, which is essentially mixed reality.
Take the example of Bühler – a global market leader in the supply of flour mills, pasta and chocolate factories. AR helps employees use mobile devices to interact with devices and perform tasks. The technology of mobile devices (and cameras) has access to real-time data sources via wireless networks to convert those data into images/graphics. This allows AR operators to see inside a machine without having to open any screws.
Practical applications of AR
Let’s look at the possibilities of augmented reality across three manufacturing-related areas:
● Product development: AR applications will come into play during the product design review phase for testing and evaluation. AR enables the evaluation of 3D virtual models of new products, which can be easily modified on the device without the time and cost of producing a physical prototype.
● Maintenance: If the machine breaks down during operation, the AR app can diagnose the machine problem and provide visual instructions on how to fix it quickly and easily. The AR program/software will display detailed information on the operator’s mobile device on how to perform a specific repair.
● Safe apps: New AR apps allow users to see the inside of a movement (where parts are stored) and allow them to diagnose problems without having to open the device. This helps to control the internal environmental conditions while the device is still in operation without human need to get too close. This increases overall reliability and reduces risk.
Creating benefits through “end-to-end” AR integration
Sophisticated AR tools require a high degree of integration to perform these specific functions. Factors such as the physical environment, data sources, graphical interfaces, product specifications (including software and connectivity compatibility), and artificial intelligence all need to work together. together. In fact, AR tools work best when connected to broader upstream and downstream processes across the entire manufacturing value chain. Of course, such complex programming is not the responsibility of the end-consumer and that is why vendor-developed comprehensive and open technology frameworks are important factors that enable deploy AR on a large scale.
Vendors with expertise in both Operations Technology (OT) and Information Technology (IT) are playing a key role in driving AR adoption. For example, Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure™ for Industry platform includes three-layer connected products, edge control, and analytics that facilitate the operation of AR applications through connectivity and mobility , cloud analytics and cybersecurity.
Hopefully the information that Tech Town brings will be useful to businesses.
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