When the word “Industry 4.0” is mentioned, from a technological perspective it is natural to think about Internet of things (IoT). But augmented reality and virtual reality are equally important. Augmented reality and virtual reality are widely used in several sectors and several contexts ranging from consumer applications to manufacturers. It provides the most value in the manufacturing sector, mostly helping in applications that could be very helpful in training, maintenance and supervision.
The many use cases of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality in Industry 4.0
Augmented reality and virtual reality can play a vital role in the typical earlier stages where optimization and enhanced productivity in terms of quality, quantity, speed and flexibility are really important than later stages of business innovations.
Think about how simulation models with the right amount of real-time data in a virtual environment can help in optimizing the process. Adding to that being said, it can also provide a better user experience as well. The possibility of augmenting a virtual layer onto the physical world can help very much in developing training materials. Virtual components can be made to assemble onto real world objects which can be a better hands on experience for trainees.
The use cases also include machining and production, assembly, security, factory planning, testing and digital prototyping. In the operations sectors, it would be really helpful if operators, logistics staff and services staff can better perform if they have the data in front of their eyes. This can result in smoother work flow.
7 reasons to why industries should adopt augmented reality:
- Augmented reality is not a hype – There are various market evolutions and study reports that support this statement. For example, all big tech companies are developing hardware or software related to augmented reality. And then there is Magic Leap, an augmented reality ‘start up’ that raised $793.5M Series C funding at a $4.5B valuation. And their commercial product has not even launched. Also, following to a Beecham Research, while a lot of hypes are focusing on consumer technology, in the case of augmented reality it will be enterprise applications that will be the driving force behind the growth of augmented reality. So, make no mistakes, augmented reality is a technology that will stay and evolve.
- The industry 4.0 era has started – Industry 4.0 is defined by McKinsey as the “Digitization of the industrial (manufacturing) sector”. According to this definition we already are working in the Industry 4.0 era. The use of enterprise software is almost common these days and (big) data collection and analysis are not so unfamiliar anymore. We see a digital transformation that is the foundation for Industry 4.0 technologies. Augmented reality is one of the technologies that are mentioned in the context of Industry 4.0. Augmented reality has the major feature of making data visible for the user in real time while it’s interacting with the real world.
- Real time data in front of your eyes – With augmented reality we add virtual information by means of a smart device to the real world. For example, we can add virtual 3D objects like tools and spare parts, but also equipment status information, technical plans, data sheets, etc. The advantage is that we can provide this information in real time on the spot where needed. For example, when performing pump maintenance, a smart device is used to display a step-by-step work instruction. Every necessary piece of information is projected on the smart device and virtually ‘attached’ to the relevant component in the real world. Additional information is only one ‘click’ away.
- Digitized instructions – Using Augmented Reality demands your data is digitized. Digitized instructions have a lot of advantages compared to paper instructions. You don’t need a ‘physical’ storage place anymore. You can have access from anywhere at any time and no more copy work when more than one person needs access. History can be searched faster. And off course it’s easier to integrate in your enterprise software which it’s makes easier to perform data analyses and to continuously improve and adapt.
- Personalized training materials – With augmented reality you can train people individually or in group in their own pace on an interactive way. A smart device shows step-by-step training instructions. A faster learning curve will be the result, people can train independent from others and a physical trainer don’t need to be present all the time.
- Less skilled operators can perform high skilled operations with ease – Not only becoming an expert by upfront training with augmented reality applications has his benefits. Also being supported by augmented reality applications on site during task executing is one of the benefits of augmented reality. Being supported by a ‘digital companion’ ensures that less skilled technicians and operators can perform tasks that today are mainly being executed by higher skilled colleagues. A big advantage knowing that within a few years a large number of skilled experts will leave the labour market, mainly through retirement.
- Gaining efficiency = Gaining effectiveness – Providing upfront training, providing support and making information immediately available where needed with the help of augmented reality finally results in a faster task execution, less execution errors, less damaged equipment due to execution errors, more equipment uptime, in short a higher efficiency. And let this be the biggest challenges of industrial companies today: gaining efficiency to gain competitiveness or at least to stay competitive.
Augmented reality and virtual reality can thus play an important role in Industry 4.0 and is not a technology that is overrated. It can have a good impact in cost reductions in various sectors of the shop floor. Although the cost of AR supported devices are a bit costly at the moment, the mass production of such devices in the future can make the technology affordable and available to everyone.
Source 1: Industry 4.0 augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) trends (i-SCOOP)
Source 2: 7 reasons why industry needs to adapt Augmented Reality – ViuMore (viumore.com)