Augmented Reality and Digital Work Instructions: What’s the Difference?


Read Time: 2 min

In the age of digital manufacturing and Industry 4.0, technology is developing at an exponential rate, making it imperative to upskill your employees quickly and effectively. Augmented Reality and digital work instructions are revolutionizing the way manufacturing companies onboard their new employees.

While both types of instructions are beneficial, the main difference between AR and digital work instructions is AR places the instructions in context, overlaid on the real world. In this post, we delve into how these training solutions can be used effectively.

Digital Work Instructions

Digital work instructions are a natural evolution from printed work instructions. From a tablet, a user can access photos, audio, charts, graphs, and presentations. Digital Instructions can also be easily translated into different languages and uploaded instantly, which means you don’t have to reprint manuals every time you have a procedural change. These can then be compiled into a course to accelerate the learning of your new recruits.

Digital manufacturing work instructions can also be used for ensuring that your frontline employees have all the relevant information on the operation of your production line at any one time. One reason why digital work instructions are more effective than traditional manuals is that they provide contextual training. A trainee can understand how processes and parts work together, in context.

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality (AR) is an experience that overlays the real world with digital data. Whereas digital work instructions can provide easy-to-understand instructions, they are not overlaid onto the real world. AR makes digital work instructions even easier to understand as they place instructions into the context of the plant. By allowing a user to share their field of vision with a remote expert who can then annotate the parts in front of them, AR makes it easier to transfer knowledge from your experts to your front-line employees. This means that if you have a machine outage, you do not need to send a service technician onsite. You can spread your hard-won knowledge across all your plants, which is vital in an increasingly customized and localized manufacturing world.

Benefits of digital work instructions and AR

Both digital work instructions and AR are beneficial for different purposes. Digital work instructions provide a better platform for teaching theory and imparting large amounts of information. Augmented reality experiences are better for providing in-situation, on-the-job imitation training. A training program that incorporates both styles of media would be ideal for creating a robust skills training program.

What happens when you add the Internet of Things (IoT)?

The capabilities of these technologies are transformed when integrated into a connected manufacturing line. By connecting your tablet to the sensors found in a digitally-connected manufacturing line, you can access real-time data on the operation of your machinery. Connected digital work instructions can alert you when certain parts need changing or when maintenance is required; you'll also have access to guidance through every step of the process. Your employees would have access to the data they need to make fast decisions, boosting productivity.

Rise of Digital Technologies

Digital technologies, like AR and digital work instructions, are changing the way information is gathered and shared within the industry. In the fast-paced, digital manufacturing landscape, these solutions can revolutionize the training process, empowering employees to learn and integrate new processes more quickly. As information is shared between your manufacturing plants and from experts to novices, your organization will become more productive and efficient and better able to meet customer demands.


Tags: Augmented Reality Digital Transformation Aerospace and Defense Automotive Industrial Equipment Life Sciences Oil and Gas Retail and Consumer Products Industry 4.0

About the Author

Prema Srinivasan, Digital Content Marketing Manager

As a Digital Content Marketing Manager, I bring the latest technology stories to the forefront. I'm passionate about engaging readers and empowering decision makers with relevant, up-to-date content.