Industry 4.0 is the popular term for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is still going on. The revolution is the automation and development of traditional industrial practices by using contemporary technology. The current trend in Industry 4.0 is becoming a ‘Smart Factory,’ which means using the latest smart technologies in all areas of the business. Some of these technologies are cybersecurity, cloud systems, adaptive robotics, simulations, mobile technologies, sensors, and virtualization technologies like Augmented Reality (AR).
AR technology is not actually a newfound technology, but it is around for almost seventy years. However, it was known as a promising technology used by only a very few people working in niche areas until the last two decades. Fortunately, with the developments and improvements in technology, it is now an affordable and usable technology that proved its significance in the industry. Today, the adoption of mobile devices and their advanced technology allows businesses to adopt AR applications easily.
Thanks to the advancement of mobile devices, AR technologies are more affordable and easier to use. Formerly only computers were able to operate with AR technology. Nowadays, it is also possible for smartphones and tablets to operate with AR. Moreover, there are advanced head-mounted devices, the smart glasses, which are the most beneficial device to use with AR. Since it is more accessible and effortless to use, the adoption of Augmented Reality technologies in industry 4.0 is increasing rapidly. It is considered one of the most critical players in creating the ‘Smart Factory.’
There are limitless areas for AR tools to aid businesses in both external and internal activities. The four most common areas of AR applications in the industry are Human-Robot Communication, Maintenance, Assembly and Repair, Training, and Inspection of Products.
The reason Augmented Reality having a key role in Industry 4.0 is its effectiveness in the improvement of communication between users and also in the clarification of human-computer interaction. In order to create a safer environment where robots and humans work side by side, new technologies must be implemented in the industry. AR can be used to contextualize the information and improve the awareness of the operators of the processes. It can make the user more aware of what the robots are doing, improving the safety sensation of the workers and the system performance. Hence, it can improve the users’ ability to understand robots better and enhance human-robot communication.
MAINTENANCE, ASSEMBLY, AND REPAIR
The combination of Augmented Reality Applications and Smart Glasses is critical, especially in ‘hand busy’ tasks such as maintenance, assembly, and repair. The most common concerns in these tasks are the need for great attention and caution of the technicians and the applications’ accuracy. The continuous switch between the devices and the manuals may cause difficulties in the task flow. Hence the hands-free devices with the usage of AR technologies’ see-what-I-see function are highly beneficial for accomplishing the tasks.
AR can be used to create the manuals and other documentation as well as in remote assistance tasks. By AR-based documentation, sharing expert knowledge and technical details can be much simpler, easier, and clearer. For the technicians, digitalized resources can highly improve comprehension and visualization of the devices, machines, and processing of the tasks. Digital twins, graphic images, or animated 3D models with textual labels can provide necessary details for the task to be performed. Likewise, overlaid digital graphics on the used areas while operating can ease the process.
Operation on VSight Remote, Remote Assistance and Collaboration Software
The digitalized resources are not only beneficial while proceeding with the tasks but also in learning and training processes. The adaptability of the digital documents and the convenience for updating are making them ideal for industrial training. The most strategic way to benefit AR technologies in training is by using them for simulating dangerous tasks. Trainees can develop and improve their skills without damaging the machinery and also eliminating the risk of any fatalities. Along with dangerous tasks, the tasks that will cause interruption of the production while training can be moved to a fully digital environment where no machinery or expert has to pause. Another asset of training with augmented Reality is the increase of attention it will bring to the process. Trainees can be more motivated by knowing they will not cause an accident while learning, also the new technology can make them more interested.
INSPECTION OF PRODUCTS
Accurate inspection of the products is as complicated as creating them. With the increasing user consciousness, businesses are taking the inspection process more deliberately. However, because of the cognitive limitations of humans, the inspection could be flawed. Augmented Reality technology can minimize these limitations by allowing the technicians to compare real objects and digital twins directly. Further, with the usage of wearable devices, smart glasses can enable the comparison to be exact by superimposing the 3D digital model of the object on to the real object that is being inspected. Thus, the inspection tasks can be handled faster and more precisely through AR tools.
AR is one of the most beneficial technologies that companies should invest in to improve their work quality, increase profits, and decrease errors. It was a limited and high-end technology when it first started to be used in industry, but it has become an attainable industrial tool for the past decade. Besides, it has great potential to be the leading domain with its adaptive and customizable architecture. Thus, to be a progressive and dynamic player of Industry 4.0, every business should adopt Augmented Reality technologies in their organization.