The challenge of meeting increasing customer demand is a good problem for manufacturers to have, but it can be difficult to accomplish. Manufacturers must be fast, efficient, and smart to maximize factory production, but worker changeover and ramp up time can significantly slow operations. To optimize throughput and meet increasing customer demands, manufacturers need a flexible and capable workforce that can learn on the fly and avoid making costly mistakes.
Augmented reality (AR) offers a more effective way to train and instruct workers so that they can keep the factory operating at the highest level of efficiency. Here are three ways that AR can help manufacturers meet customer demand.
As advanced as manufacturing is now, the factory environment still opens the door for the possibility of human error. Workers take time to get up to speed and can be prone to making mistakes, especially when unfamiliar equipment is involved. Quality issues can delay product shipments, making it harder to fulfill orders and meet customer demand.
With AR, information overlays and step-by-step instructions improve the accuracy of workers. By overlaying digital information onto a physical object, line-workers can better comprehend assembly instructions and minimize errors that result in defects, re-work, and scrap.
Maintenance and repair tasks can also greatly impact the production line output, so it’s important to maintain equipment performance and minimize unnecessary downtime. However, maintenance and repair technicians often waste critical time interpreting work instructions that are both time and labor intensive. Contextualizing printed instructions with the actual equipment or process can be difficult, and having to access supplemental information slows things down further.
AR-based instructions can both “show” and “tell” workers exactly what they need to do by providing hands-free animations and step-by-step guidance during time-sensitive maintenance or repair procedures. This can significantly reduce the time it takes to read and interpret instructions; more strategically, AR minimizes the duration, severity, and cost of critical downtime situations.
Manufacturers need a flexible and agile workforce to consistently meet production goals. When customer demand increases, the need for labor does as well. In a highly regulated environment where safety is a priority, onboarding new or seasonal employees can be a lengthy process. Seasonal workers or line shifts are typically slower to ramp, resulting in lower outputs.
AR has proven to be effective at training workers faster, giving manufacturers more plant and line flexibility, so they can shift production priorities as needed to meet changing demand.
If you’d like to learn more about the value that manufacturers can get from industrial AR solutions, check out this complementary infographic.