Nowadays, the fourth industrial revolution is ignoring the boundaries between physics and digital, thus enabling a series of changes in all manufacturing industries by the opportunities it offers to manufacturers to increase their product lines. Augmented Reality (AR) is making an impact in the 4.0 industry and is being considered as one of the important keys of this revolution. This very promising technology is now used by companies of different sizes and fields. This technology provides smart factory operators the chance to experience an augmented world by overlaying virtual information in the real world. This way the operators can be in touch with both the real and virtual world and at the same time receive real-time instructions or data from a remote expert.
The Smart Factory as a highly digitized floor is constantly collecting and spreading data through connected machines, equipment, and production systems, but at the same time is also facing many challenges that can cause millions of dollars of damages. For this reason, many different businesses are using Augmented Reality as a very beneficial strategy by integrating it as part of these smart factories in order to increase productivity and improve revenue. Given that smart factories are advancing day by day and in the same way the manufacturing plants are experiencing progress as well. Augmented Reality as mentioned above, as a critical component of the 4.0 industry, has the task of providing solutions as flexible as possible to optimize not only the manufacturing process but also the workforce performance.
If we were to summarize the facts of what today’s reality proves then we would come to the conclusion that AR aims to produce efficient operations by cutting production downtime, quickly identifying problems, and maintaining all services and processes. But let’s take a closer look at some of the ways AR is improving the smart factories:
Using the remote assistance empowered by AR, a maintenance team can see exactly which equipment needs servicing, including finding solutions to potential problems. In this way, they instruct factory technicians to take appropriate action for a quick repair in case of need. Thanks to this remote assistance, technicians manage to repair a device in record time and with great efficiency. Technicians also benefit from wearable devices such as smart glasses that give them the ability to capture hands-free photos at the moment and share those images with remote experts for troubleshooting help. At the same time, they continue to perform their tasks hands-free and unfocused by external factors.
Since the training of smart factory operators is quite costly, then companies have found AR as helpful in providing facilitation solutions for providing real-time visual guidance to connect the inexperienced workforce with specialized experts. Both parties are brought to the same room to get knowledge for the same purpose. VSight Remote, for example, has launched the feature of training large groups and offers unique capabilities to engage the trainees with digital information around them. This enables experts who, thanks to AR tools, to present to the trainees real situations enhanced with images or even 3D objects. In addition, trainees have the opportunity to reply and communicate directly with experts through the so-called raise hand feature.
Collaboration through AR Remote Support has proven to increase employee productivity. In many cases, intelligent factories face production downtime due to breakdowns of machinery that can cost companies thousands of dollars. Through the help of Augmented Reality, information that technicians get in real-time makes it possible to solve these problems or even identify the defect and prevent the downtime from ever happening. AR technology not only improves bilateral communication between expert and technician but also simplifies teamwork by engaging all staff. Moreover, experts make it possible to instruct technicians towards safe areas, thus maintaining their safety during the performance of their work.
Easily Data Accessibility
Sessions conducted by AR Remote Support, whether training or instructional on various issues, can now be archived. All this is done so that in a later period these materials can be reused for different purposes. On the one hand, they can be used again for early training, but not only. On the other hand, in repeated cases of the same issues in the future, technicians have immediate access to these materials finding the necessary information. Furthermore, managers use these archived sessions also for the purpose of inspecting the performance of the workforce, whether it is fulfilled to the maximum or not. At the same time, they also serve as an example to prevent several repeated errors.
Although the AR concept is no longer unknown, many companies are still on the path to embracing this technology. Today’s conditions of the world have highlighted even more the importance of this technology. This means that we have an increase in the number of AR adoptive companies, as a potential tool to radically change smart factories and the way all processes are carried out. Noting only some of the aforementioned benefits of this technology, companies are also encouraged to decide to accept AR Remote Assistance as an innovative way to produce efficient operations by cutting down production downtime, quickly identifying the problems, and keeping all the services and processes going.