Everything You Need to Know About Augmented Reality in Manufacturing
Written By: Greg Kaminsky

Digital transformation is ushering the manufacturing industry into a new age of speed, knowledge, transparency, and connectedness. While industrial IoT data is making products smarter and processes faster, it’s AR that is making people more productive.


Closing the skills gap by connecting workers

If AR has arrived to aid the industrial workforce, it can’t have come soon enough; the manufacturing industry is facing a looming skills crisis, with millions of jobs expected to go unfilled over the next decade. To stay ahead of the curve, manufacturers need to find a way to simultaneously improve knowledge sharing, retain their aging workforce, and upskill new or seasonal workers.

AR solutions are increasingly accessible; they are also proving their value through extremely effective training and procedural guidance applications. AR immediately makes factory workers and technicians more effective by providing contextual data and instructions to workers, when and where they need it on shop floors or out in the field. By blending the physical and digital worlds into an immersive experience, AR helps people understand and retain complex information much faster. And as a cloud-based solution that’s accessible to users anytime and anywhere, AR makes collaboration and knowledge sharing easier by connecting those inside an office to people out in the field in real-time.

AR hardware and software

So, what do the nuts and bolts of AR solution look like? Hardware can range from hands-free wearable headsets such as the Microsoft HoloLens or the RealWear HMT-1, to pocket-sized mobile devices or larger screened tablets. Each option varies in cost, usability, and ubiquity, which manufacturers should consider strongly when implementing an AR solution.

AR software is similarly diverse, with solutions ranging from out-of-the-box AR content authoring tools like Vuforia Studio, to shared-view collaboration tools like Vuforia Chalk, to location-specific AR guidance tools like Vuforia Expert Capture. Finding the right combination of AR hardware and software ultimately depends on the use case; one solution may be effective helping line workers assemble products faster, while another may be more useful helping to scale service information globally.

AR use cases and success stories

The manufacturers that are getting the most value from AR are using it to solve specific business challenges, such as poor training and communication methods, a shortage of qualified workers, or increasingly complex products. Some of the most commonly demonstrated use cases for AR in manufacturing include maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO), training, and sales and marketing.

If companies want an example of a successful AR program, the good news is that those case studies are increasingly available, across a variety of industries. Life Sciences leader Sysmex is using AR to improve equipment uptime and resource utilization by guiding field technicians with step-by-step 3D work instructions. Howden, a major industrial manufacturer, is leveraging their existing 3D models to deliver AR experiences that incorporate IoT data for safer, more productive workers. Meanwhile, Cannondale is using AR to differentiate their bicycles and deepen engagement with riders. Many others are empowering workers, improving efficiency, and engaging customers using AR solutions built with PTC Vuforia. Are you ready to join them?

Getting started with augmented reality

If any of these challenges are familiar to you, implementing AR at your organization might be easier than you think. It’s very likely that you already have the resources you need to get started, including subject matter experts and existing CAD and engineering data. Download this free white paper to learn how can create valuable AR experiences today.

Getting Started with Industrial Augmented Reality Solutions

Tags: Augmented Reality Aerospace and Defense Automotive Industrial Equipment Oil and Gas Digital Transformation
About the Author Greg Kaminsky Greg is a technology blogger telling real stories about industrial innovation, digital transformation, and futurism in the workplace. As a Content Marketing Manager at PTC, Greg is helping business leaders discover how augmented reality and the internet of things are empowering frontline employees, driving productivity, and differentiating brands.