In manufacturing, scrap is the enemy of profits. Manufacturing rework, waste, scrap, and defects all add up to product recalls, warranty returns, and after-sales servicing expenses. According to Forbes, poor product quality can cost manufacturers up to 30% of their total revenue.
As products become increasing complex and production processes are globally dispersed, tremendous pressure is being placed on processes and skilled employees. As experts age out of the workforce, the challenge lies in refilling the skills gap. As the gap widens, so does the potential for human error and the resulting costs of scrap, rework, and downtime.
Augmented reality (AR) gives manufacturers powerful new ways to reduce manufacturing scrap and waste, by minimizing the potential for mistakes. Manufacturers leverage AR to overlay information onto physical objects using digital displays. AR uses a process known as computer vision to target specific objects of interest, and precisely overlays step-by-step instructions and guidance onto the relevant control. Industrial AR solutions like Vuforia can even integrate real-time IIoT, providing real-time performance data of a machine that is being set up, operated, or serviced. With a greater understanding of machine operation and performance, employees augment their current skills. This reduces the risk of human error and the manufacturing rework costs that result.
Implementing new procedures can be a complex process and introduces opportunities for human error. This is especially true given the potential for misunderstanding with traditional paper instructions, highly customizable equipment, or managers trying to communicate directions over loud machinery. AR-based digital work instructions reduce that room for error by showing operatives exactly what to do, in exactly what sequence, on exactly which controls; alerting to any potential errors while they’re doing it. Workers are better able to complete new tasks accurately and safely the first time. With less room for error, there are fewer defects, and less rework as a result.
AR is crucial to closing the industrial skills gap. Digital work instructions accelerate on-the-floor training to help novice workers learn their job and adapt to shifting processes. With these tools, new employees learn more effectively, can be trained at a lower cost, complete training faster, and are less prone to error when they finally start their first shift.
AR also empowers seasoned experts to expand the impact of their experience, so they can better preserve and transfer their knowledge. In this way, they can better help new workers become better at their jobs. Experts can provide remote mentorship—talking others through procedures, adding notes to the shared AR display, from anywhere in the world—and by building a library of intuitive instructional materials. They can also use AR tools to record, annotate and deliver step-by-step, first-person views of complex operations.
As a result of reducing human error, AR can increase output efficiency and dramatically reduce manufacturing scrap and rework. One high-tech manufacturer using industrial AR is on track to reduce manufacturing rework and scrap by 25%, a $15 million savings per facility. The same manufacturer also managed to shorten document authoring time by 50%, accelerate training time by 40%, and minimize unscheduled downtime by 28%.
As a result, their operational costs have been substantially reduced and their margins have significantly improved, giving them the opportunity to redirect capital that would previously have been lost to scrap and rework into productive investment.