Impossible is nothing. In the world of manufacturing, this idiom rings especially true. Manufacturers have been leveraging augmented reality (AR) for a number of years now to help expedite workflows, simplify difficult processes and enhance employee safety. And as technology and AR use cases continues to advance, its creators continue finding new ways to put it into practice in various industries, including manufacturing.
But while AR’s potential in the world of business has been widely reported and celebrated, many manufacturers may not know how to get started with it themselves. With that said – and before we dive into its wide range of benefits for the industry – let’s first take a quick look at what augmented reality is and how it works.
How AR Technology Can Be Used
Augmented Reality (AR) is a live, direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics, or GPS data. This process enables companies to create innovative applications that let users interact with digital content in the context of their surroundings. AR can be used to create applications that help improve processes, enhance product information and provide hands-on support for users.
AR also has the ability to create content experiences at the point of sale (POS), which can be incredibly beneficial in the retail industry. And because it doesn’t require third-party network connectivity, AR solutions are effective tools for enhancing customer engagement, especially in situations where Wi-Fi or cellular connectivity isn’t available.
5 Use Cases for AR in Manufacturing
Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, let’s take a look at some specific ways augmented reality can be applied to improve various workflows in the manufacturing industry.
Interacting with Manufacturing Data in Real-Time
One of the biggest advantages that AR technology can provide for manufacturers is to allow users to gain greater insight into their processes. This includes everything from receiving guidance on where to place machinery or components, to accessing detailed information about a certain product, material, or position in the supply chain quickly and easily.
Enhancing Communication and Collaboration
AR makes it possible for people to communicate in real-time, across long distances by creating virtual workspaces. And because AR users can see each other’s movements and interactions with the environment in real-time, this has the potential to improve collaboration within teams, while making remote training more effective. It can also provide a hands-on approach to product support, making it possible for users with different levels of expertise to receive personalized guidance from experts located anywhere in the world.
Improving Processes and Productivity
Manufacturers can improve their overall production experience by creating applications that enable employees to streamline difficult processes with a real-time view of the required information. AR adds value to processes that are typically dull, time-consuming, or even dangerous. It can help make these tasks easier by providing hands-on support for employees, making it possible for them to complete their work more quickly and efficiently.
Manufacturers that employ heavy equipment in their facilities know how difficult it can be to keep employees safe. AR has the potential to help rescue workers and first responders locate people in need of assistance, avoid dangerous situations or even navigate through an environment that isn’t conducive to vision.
Enhancing Point-of-Sale Experiences
AR doesn’t just have the potential to enhance physical work environments – it can also play a role in point-of-sale experiences. This includes everything from providing customers with product information, to helping them visualize how products will look at their homes or workplaces. AR can also be used to improve training for sales associates by providing detailed guides on product features and applications – this lets employees feel more confident about engaging with customers and answering questions.
Future AR Use Cases
As technology advances and becomes more affordable, expert contributors at Forbes believe that it’s likely we’ll eventually see AR used for everything from 3D modeling to collaborating with contractors on project sites. It will also become possible for users to make modifications directly in their physical environment without having to use digital tools or drawings. According to the experts, this will likely have a significant impact on the way businesses communicate and work together, while also potentially eliminating several currently common barriers.
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