AR is a technology that gives the real world an extra dimension by superimposing information like text, images, and sound on the world as we see it. This way it creates an interactive experience of an existing real-world environment that can be enhanced by placing computer-generated images in it. To give you an example, smart glasses can provide real-time information to an operator that is monitoring a production plant.
And then there is the Industry 4.0, also known as Smart Industry or the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Here you can also speak of an ‘augmentation’ of sorts. The machines are interconnected and in turn, linked to a smart system that can oversee the entire production process. This allows it to make its own decisions based on a big quantity of data to ensure that the process is as optimal and cost-effective as possible. So instead of operating the machines in a factory, it will be more like communicating with them.
AR in Industrial Environments
AR can be used in infinite ways to improve the process in the Industry 4.0 but there are though some main areas that can be identified.
Imagine, how much AR can improve product design and development by monitoring production and helping to identify errors in the design in an early stage of the development process and, of course, also avoid these errors. This way it would drastically reduce the number of real prototypes needed, accelerate the production and process development and, thus, saving the company a lot of time and money.
Support & Maintenance
What if engineers on-sight need support during production and maintenance? With AR you would have the possibility to provide support remotely. This makes it possible for highly specialized staff to be in more places at the same time. By making it visual for the engineers, they would exactly know what needs to be done without much hassle.
AR can be of great help giving visual and clear guidance inside the buildings, like warehouses or plants. Especially if you are dealing with a big company you can make things easier by using AR to guide you through the complex to quickly find what you need. This way, even if you find yourself in a building you are not familiar with, you will be easily guided through it.
Sales and Presales
This is another area where AR can truly shine and be of great help to marketing and sales. With AR you can explain complex coherences in a visual way, so it will be easier to understand for your prospects. You can even show models of machines that are far too big or expensive to bring to a demonstration. With AR you can create a virtual showroom where your clients can see the product for themselves.
Work protection and safety
This is another important area where AR can be of good use by showing workers what the potential hazards are or show emergency exit routes. Instead of using a map you will now have a strong visual aid to show the safety measures in their real environment which will help the workers to act more quickly in case of an emergency.
Thyssenkrupp uses high precision AR guiding inside their facilities. AR helps on-sight staff to identify components in complex technical setups by providing real-time contextual information. More concrete, AR is being used to guide maintenance engineers through large industrial facilities and help them find and resolve technical issues faster.
Batz is a technology supplier for the automotive and aerospace industry that is engineering complex machinery for production lines like hydraulic presses. Among their customers are companies like Volkswagen, Airbus and Dyson.
Batz uses AR to improve communication between different teams within the company as well as with their clients. AR is being used to help engineers to have 3D models of machinery available at all times. It also helps technicians on the client-side to resolve issues faster by providing a highly detailed virtual twin of the affected machine in real-size.
TSK utilizes Augmented Reality to provide visual guiding, geolocated alerts, and maintenance information to the operators of their photovoltaic power plants. Besides providing guidance, AR also helps to prioritize maintenance tasks. The AR application is fully integrated with other software services that are being used within the company.
Unilever uses Augmented Reality to organize inspection, repairs, maintenance and cleaning of their production facilities. They use the Onirix Spaces technology, which is based on SLAM(link), for very precise indoor navigation. In order to provide this superior precision, a 3D scan of every location is being created before the system is deployed.