Augmented Reality , Manufacturing , Digital Transformation , Training

8 ways AR can help Manufacturing Industry improve processes

Find out how AR can help your company achieve Manufacturing excellence!

Augmented Reality has manifold advantages for the Manufacturing Industry. The processes in any manufacturing company typically involve numerous cumbersome steps. In each of these steps, AR can be well leveraged with tangible results.

AR can help your company achieve manufacturing excellence, improve warehousing in real-time, and smoothen the process of learning and development. You can also use Augmented Reality during maintenance to ensure quality standards, fasten assembly of parts, and quicken the design process. With proper use of AR, you can increase the efficiency of your labours too.

You can achieve this using smart glasses, mobile applications, intelligent headsets having instruction in the line of sight, digitally augmented videos and the like.

1.      Equipment Maintenance

Manufacturing Industries undergo maintenance of their plant parts and machinery to prevent them from breaking down. The maintenance work happens at regular intervals. Thus, saving the plant from sudden shutdown due to a fault, reducing repair costs, ensuring smooth functioning, and preventing any accident whatsoever.

Now, what if your workers could see through augmented Reality where exactly was a chance of failure? What if they knew a machines tendency to default beforehand? Wouldn't that significantly reduce the time and efforts while ensuring better awareness about the factory parts' status?

The answer is obviously – YES. You can achieve all the objectives of maintenance in a better way. Now the question is – How will AR help in achieving so?

Augmented Reality aids the workers in navigating through to the parts requiring maintenance. They could either have an app or AR embedded 3D glasses with a step-by-step guide for conducting the repair work.


Source: Coca Cola

Coco-cola has tested AR in one of their bottling facilities to help in-service inspections, machine audits and the like. Mitsubishi Electric has developed AR glasses to help workers identify areas that require review and repair. The app gives a step by step instruction to their workers on conducting the entire process seamlessly.

Caterpillar shows another instance of leveraging on the AR to improve equipment maintenance work. They have built their AR application for guiding their technicians and workers during maintenance.

2.      Quality Control

Manufacturing Industries can also use Augmented Reality to design the model for machines with greater precision. Using a tablet, your engineers can now design pieces of machinery, parts, or an entire plant layout deciding on the dimensions, capacity, tolerance, and looks. You can gauge any potential issue during running or any operational hazard. AR adds another layer of security, surpassing the capabilities of human eyes. This overlay identifies minor fractures and inefficiencies in faster and more accurate ways. AR thus brings down the failure chances, maintains and updates regarding factory operations, minimised internal and external failures. Thus AR helps in bringing down the Cost of Quality (COQ).

You can also use AR to check the functioning of the product's features.



Source: Metrology News

Porsche, the luxury automaker, started an initiative to implement AR at their factories at Leipzig and Zuffenhausen. Porsche Production 4.0 meant to use an AR application to increase its quality standards along with robots to perform repetitive tasks.

They use AR for knowing precise design information of its components at the earliest. Using a tablet, their staff can understand and communicate the SOPs and relay the vehicle's production details. So, Porsche achieves this by adding a digital image seen from the application. In this way, AR helps in identifying minor deviations and in determining any problems with body parts.

They can now plot their vehicle's dimensions in an HD plot cloud through an Augmented Reality application. The CGIs and Optical Measuring can directly measure up to 16 million points per scan.


3.      Product design and development

Product Design is a multi-step process. It involves the identification of technology, conceptualising, creating a prototype, and building the product. At each stage, you can use Augmented Reality to your advantage. AR can help them implement the technologies without any lag time, thereby saving time. Your product designer can visualise the final product without having to depend on physical prototypes. You can also make changes to your designs at a nominal cost.

When digitally imposed on a natural background, the object can see and understand the viability, dimensions, and benefits. Your stakeholders can see your product before investing.

During the final design stage, having AR lenses, your designers can impose the design on the surface and build the product, thereby increasing efficiency.

Ford had tested a pilot project using AR technology for building a 3D model that would eliminate the need to develop prototypes. Post the project's success; they have decided to go forward with the implementation of Augmented Reality.

Source: VolkswTeaser3_neu_DB2017AL00224_largeagen


In Volkswagen's virtual engineering lab in Wolfsburg, Germany, the engineers use AR to develop innovative designs and select the most feasible one after running a satisfying number of iterations at a cheaper rate and shorter duration.

 4.      Rectification of problems in less downtime

Imagine some parts of a plant malfunctioned in a factory located in a remote place. That malfunction has rendered the plant shut down. The workers need to troubleshoot the issue, and for that, they require expert guidance. The expert would now have to be flown from his location to the plant's location; he would then see the problem and provide solution and advice to the workers. And at the end of a long episode, the plant would restart.

Now imagine another scenario. A plant underwent shut down due to some mechanical malfunction. The workers this time are equipped with Augmented Reality apps, which can guide understanding of the problem and guide troubleshooting.

Clearly, in the second case, the downtime is far lower than in the first case. Given a choice, you would undoubtedly choose the latter over the two.

General Electric (GE)  had done the same thing. They developed smart glasses equipped with an Augmented Reality platform, which enabled workers to see the digitised instructions in their line of sight. They no longer have to stop their work, see the manuals, or wait for expert guidance. They can access voice notes, training modules, or even call experts with voice commands. GE has seen a 34% improvement in productivity due to the lowered downtime.


5.      Assembly of parts

Your employees can use AR sensors capped with quick data analysis to gain extra knowledge about parts. Augmented Reality would thus enable the workers to work hands-free. Having a part of the job taken care of by digitisation, fewer people can do the same work.

The blueprints are overlaid for the workers to get an idea. A step by step instruction would also appear along with the blueprint to complete the process without any supervisor. In factories where parts come from varied geographies usually need an expert to train and guide them in the assembly process. This step would become unnecessary once you can leverage the digital augmentation.

AR systems can overlay easy to follow assembly instructions, like placing bolts, cables, and part specifications in front of your employee's eyes. This way, AR minimises assembly errors too.




Source: Assembly Magazine

Airbus has used the AR app called MiRA to aid in aircraft production. It uses 3D models to monitor and test the assembly of the hydraulic equipment.

Volvo uses AR lenses for workers in the assembly line to visualise the process instructions in real-time. These lenses guide the workers using audio-visual cues like instructions, drawings, and videos of employees who completed the task previously.


6.      Quick access to parts in warehousing and faster delivery


At your warehouses, your workers perform multiple tasks in order fulfilment and warehouse organisation. According to the current arrangement, a worker has to check the information upon receiving an order, find the necessary product through catalogues. Then they would navigate and pick the product, scan it, report the data, and deliver it to the loading dock before signing off on order. As it may seem to be a lengthy process, it, in actuality, is a long step. But it has significant scope for improvement.

You can have easy navigation around your warehousing facility using Augmented Reality. The workers will know where a particular product is located and get guided navigation without brushing through catalogues, reducing person-hours. They can get access to the inventory status of each product, helping them manage their inventory better.

GE Healthcare uses AR effectively in their warehouse in Florence, South Carolina. The manufactures of parts for MRI machines have their workers wear smart glasses with Augmented Reality. They receive a new order for fulfilment directly into their glasses. The device then guides the workers to locate and reach the correct storage area. The workers then find each item in the order and ready them for delivery. GE reported a 46% improvement in order completion.


Source: MHD Supply Chain Solutions

DHL uses a head mount display for its workers with wearable PCs. This gear helps them in getting a real-time update about the warehouse objects.


7.      Improve workers' productivity and reduce cost

The Augmented Reality may feel like a massive investment in technological advancement. Also, it may appear as a wastage of crucial person-hours in training them to use new technology. On the contrary, investing in Augmented Reality has a manifold positive outcome.

Companies have seen an increase in their employees' efficiency. They saw a significant reduction in time and better utilisation of their resources.

From the examples of General Electric, we see that using AR can ultimately lead to a significant increase in workers' productivity. GE's time-intensive works like finding errors in faulty machines, locating products in warehouses, referring to SOPs every time, are taken care of by Augmented Reality. The workers can now devote their time doing the works that require a human touch, thereby increasing their efficiency.

The technical support will no longer require human presence at the site. Through AR, the experts can relay solutions along with demonstrations to the workers working remotely. The same technical expert may sit in one place and provide service to multiple sites simultaneously. Experts will be able to increase their efficiency in this way upon successful implementation of AR. The reduction in cost due to lesser travel expenses. With the amount thus saved, the organisations can now use them in other business expenditures.


8.      Training and safety instructions to staff

Augmented Reality is best used in training employees and the workforce. Imagine the cumbersome nature of training a new employee or preparing and delivering training modules every time a new employee joined. It's repetitive and requires a considerable amount of involvement from the Human Resource department.

AR resolve this problem. It can benefit the industry in taking care of the training part in many ways.

One, you can use AR for visually representing each step of the process. You employees can learn complicated concepts and methods through repetition without fearing failure. AR can teach them as many times as they like without wasting any trainer's time. The use of AR, in this case, will help at times when audio-visual guides won't suffice.

You can record training modules and teach your employees about their task using an AR headset. The recording is done only once and is usable innumerable times.

New employees need to be unfamiliar with necessary protocols, equipment, and procedures. Else they can compromise the safety of their workplace and at times lead to accidents. These new employees can undergo the safety training without wasting their supervisors' time through AR.

At times a new employee is assigned to operate a piece of processing equipment for the first time. With AR technology, they would know about the machine, its parts, and ways to work on it optimally. 

Jaguar Land Rover has shown the way to use Augmented Reality for training purposes. They developed an app that digitally visualised an X-ray onto the dashboard of its vehicles. The app allowed their staffs to see everything in operation behind the vehicle's panelling. This app eliminated the need to remove and restore the dashboard, thus easing training and saving costs.



As you have seen ways in which your company can use Augmented Reality. You have also seen how few of the world's best-known companies have used AR in their business.

In case you are into manufacturing and want to improve your processes. In that case, it is high time for your company to upgrade to digital.

AR and VR are the future of industries. Soon it will become a must-have feature from the now good-to-have feature. Not adapting them at the earliest would only mean staying behind in the competition. And who would like to do that?

Share this blog with your company or people in the manufacturing sector. Update them on what their industry is talking about and what they are missing out on. If you have any success stories with AR in your company, we would be happy to know about them. Do comment about them.

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