How Augmented Reality (AR) is used in Industry 4.0?

How cool it would be if you get all the help you need in your job and to do it in the best possible way? Well, Augmented Reality technology or AR for short will just deliver that.  Forget carrying clunky manuals and poster sized drawings and usher in the technology that helps you do all that with a simple smartphone or wearable.  Augmented Reality, a key technology of the Industry 4.0 suite helps to transform the way industries would train their employees and execute tasks with greater effectiveness. In a nutshell, it helps factories become smarter and better!

Augmented Reality provided a digital overlay of information to enhance that augments the user experience in a plant, office or factory. This is possible with a handheld device such as a tablet, smart phone or a wearable such as a goggle. AR has matured to an extent that AR easy to use and widely adopted.

Let’s begin with the factory shop floor where a technician is being trained to learn about a particular equipment, its principle of operation, key components, operating steps and emergency steps. Traditionally, a supervisor or trainer transmits that knowledge and instructions which after repeated practice, the trainee obtains the requisite competence. Getting to this point could take weeks or months as all aspects of that training cannot be provided without interrupting machine production. As you can realize, this is not only time consuming, but also quite expensive. AR solutions designed specifically for that machinery delivers the same competencies without interruptions and at a fraction of the cost. Sounds amazing, right?

AR applications provide instructions on the job that is relevant to perform the task. It recognizes the context and provides information or data that enables to user to perform those tasks correctly and efficiently. Error free operations result in zero machinery or plant downtime, improves employee productivity, reduces production costs and better returns to the company on its investment. AR helps with the collaboration of various teams from different places worldwide on design tasks, reviews, verification and testing. This helps with developing prototypes or upgrades and checking their effectiveness without even the multiple teams from different locations collaborate effectively on product design reviews, checking and verifying applicability and compatibility under various conditions. Such efforts provide valuable insights that improve the design of a prototype even before its actual construction.

AR helps provide assistance from experts to facilities operating in remote locations such as mines, oil rigs etc. With travel restrictions such AR remote assistance tools are immensely useful. Using tablets or wearables fitted to the user’s helmet, they receive exact instructions and advice on fixing the issue. OEMs are taking advantage of this technology to better service their customers without incurring much cost. Factory owners are able to resume their production very quickly and maintain overall productivity.

The use of AR is widespread from design, construction, operations to maintenance. Developing the right solutions with appropriate use cases requires the support of an experienced augmented reality company in India or elsewhere, who understand the issues, have specific industry and domain expertise coupled with the technology skills required for success.

Authored by: Dr. CSS Bharathy