How Could the Manufacturing Sector Utilize Extended Reality?

November 2, 2022

Extended reality has the potential to revolutionize the way manufacturing industry operate. By integrating extended reality in manufacturing, the industry can become more efficient and innovative.

Businesses in industries and manufacturing are always looking for ways to improve their processes. Efficient, effective, productive, and economical. With technology evolving rapidly, many companies have begun to understand that using immersive technology within their businesses can help solve various problems, such as the slow or costly development of products, complex training requirements, etc. In the past extended reality, technology was considered a mere tool for enhancing the entertainment sector. In reality, XR is quickly gaining popularity in various sectors, including the manufacturing industry.

Anyone who works in the manufacturing sector understands how competitive the market is. Companies are pressured to develop new products faster, more safely, and cost-effectively using minimal resources and waste.

Efficiency and quality are at the core of every successful manufacturing venture. They are the most important factor in meeting the needs of consumers. However, the continuing shortage of skilled workers, increasing labor shortages, and supply chain challenges have threatened the standards. Fortunately, new tools are helping companies stay in the face of rapid shifts.

With extended-reality manufacturing, training businesses can now offer new employees a simulation environment in which they can be in the "hands-on" environment and gain an actual, hands-on experience on the job -however, sometimes entirely from a distance.

Growing Role of Extended Reality in Manufacturing

The widespread adoption of cutting-edge manufacturing technologies is likely connected to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 State of Manufacturing Report shows that 95% of manufacturers thought the virus would have a lasting impact on their business. This, consequently, gave a significant increase for industry 4.0.

Alongside data analytics and IoT advancement, AI and ML robotics extended reality (XR) is among the most promising manufacturing technological innovation areas. Nine out of ten firms have increased their investment in digital transformation by 2020, deciding to use Extended Reality (XR) as one of their most valuable solutions.

What is 'XR,' and How Does It Work?

The term "extended Reality" (XR) refers to three technologies with distinct levels of experience and different mixes of virtual and physical interactions. At its highest level, XR comprises the virtual world Augmented reality (AR/VR Services) as well as mixed reality (MR).

Augmented Reality (AR) enhances natural working environments by overlaying virtual or digital elements. To use joint, user-friendly AR, users generally use a device like tablets, smartphones, and AR glasses. (The game phenomenon Pokémon GO is an excellent illustration of the widespread application of AR technology.)

Virtual Reality (VR) allows users to completely immerse themselves in an immersive digital environment that is entirely digital. A headset (an "HMD" (also known as the head-mounted screen) is used to provide an overall view of a simulation of a space which, in simple terms, fools our brain into believing that we are physically in a reconstructed, digital world.

When you are in Mixed Reality (MR), digital physical and digital elements coexist and interact in real time. MR is, in essence, a combination of virtual and augmented technology for virtual reality. The technology requires an MR headset, like the HoloLens from Microsoft; MR allows users to alter simulated forms, rooms, models, or spaces, which allows users to view things from various perspectives or angles or to react to virtual objects in the real world.

Since XR stimulates all of our senses, it allows us to explore simulated environments in complete detail, similar to what we see in the real world, but with one notable exception: in XR, we can engage in risky activities without risking ourselves or anyone else.

Various Use Cases of Extended Reality in the Manufacturing Industry

While it was once thought to be a solution intended explicitly for entertainment, the expanded technology is now showing its worth across many areas, such as the manufacturing industry. Companies such as Varjo and Magic Leap are already beginning to collaborate with manufacturing companies with solutions specifically designed to help professionals using complex technology and tools.

With XR, manufacturing companies can create better processes to support their employees and reduce risks on the floor of their factories. These same technologies can speed up time-to-market, enhance the process of developing products and open the doors to breakthrough collaboration.

Here are a few examples of how to use XR in industrial and manufacturing companies.

Powerful Training and Guidance

Many manufacturing firms have many employees who work on various machines daily. Understanding how to operate these tools safely and efficiently is vital. Firms typically require comprehensive training to help their employees.

However, training employees in the industrial or manufacturing sector can be lengthy and costly. Training an employee on how to operate a brand machine in person will often interrupt the company's operations and can be extremely expensive. But with XR, it is possible to take advantage of opportunities to teach team members without interruptions.

The company can offer engaging training experiences that help to keep team members protected on the floor manufacturing. It is even possible for new employees to put on MR and AR glasses when they are first introduced to a company and immediately verify the instructions by bringing them into their view area using a voice command, reducing the chance of making mistakes.

Faster Maintenance and Repairs

A single problem in the manufacturing environment could throw a whole production line into chaos. Getting expert assistance as soon as possible is crucial if problems arise to get a company back in order. The good news is that extended reality can assist in this. In the industrial sector, augmented reality and mixed reality devices allow employees to transmit high-quality images of their machines back to an expert in remote locations to gain immediate feedback and insights.

They can even use applications linked to a pair of smart glasses. These glasses can be used to identify the components of equipment that engineers must be working on or provide the team member with the most important diagrams. Access to immediate support from experts can speed up repairs. It can even eliminate the need for engineers or technicians to visit a location in person.

Technology in the industrial and manufacturing space continues to grow. It is possible to imagine a future in which teams can use IoT devices, applications, and 5G technology to communicate with machines in real time and even make changes at an inaccessible distance.

Rapid Product Development

Virtual reality in the manufacturing industry provides a unified and collaborative environment where teams can discuss ideas for new products and interact with digital machinery models. It also simplifies experimentation with new materials and concepts without creating models from scratch. Another benefit it could offer companies is reduced time wasted in getting from one stage of production in the process to the following.

Safety Training

The safety of employees working with intricate machines is always a significant problem in manufacturing. Extended reality is an excellent way to train and develop new employees while ensuring their safety before stepping on the production floor. This can also bring the following benefits: can include:

  • Reduced Plant Downtime
  • Through XR technology to facilitate training, companies can conduct training courses without impacting the production hours at the plant. This means that the plant is running and avoiding expensive downtime.

Remote Customer Support

Customer support that involves visits from technicians and the repair of equipment can be time-consuming, consequently affecting your customer's experience. Integration of extended reality in business can improve customer service by allowing field service technicians to offer remote assistance. Through XR equipment, such as Smart glasses, technicians can view live data and solve issues from remote areas.

Workplace Safety

Their working environment makes manufacturing workers more susceptible to accidents and injuries. Employers should take safety in the workplace seriously and implement the appropriate measures to reduce the chance of injuries and accidents. By using XR technology, businesses can overlay information about their work to increase the safety of employees in the workplace. In addition, businesses can publish immediate safety alerts using XR applications and help train employees on how to respond to potentially dangerous situations.

Process Improvements and Efficiency

XR will give industrial and manufacturing employees who work in highly complex environments access to the information and guidance they require at any moment. The team member can accomplish more quickly, increasing overall efficiency.

For instance, companies such as Atheer employ AR headsets to give team members direction when they're in the construction area and to make sure they can communicate with specialists for additional assistance. This allows employees to receive instant feedback without waiting for an employee to see a supervisor in person.

In addition, engineers and technicians can access information and instructions in real-time via the AR or MR interface or possess the diagrams they require to comprehend a device displayed on top of a device. Extended reality applications allow for streamlined workplace procedures and ensure employees have the information they require to perform their jobs efficiently and safely.

What are the Benefits of Extended Reality for the Manufacturing Sector?

The immersive environment and capabilities of XR provide significant benefits when used in conjunction with traditional and computer-based manufacturing education.

Using all four widely recognized learning methods -- visual, writing, auditory, and motion. Extended reality allows learners to make stronger emotional and mental connections to their subject matter, giving students more relevant instruction. The result is a real-world work experience in a safe, realistic setting.

Distraction-Free Learning

Since participants are completely engaged by their environments and the information they're receiving, Extended reality in manufacturing training offers a space that is free of distractions. The less distracted the trainees are, the better they can focus on the content they're being given.

More Visually and Mentally Engaging Training

Since over 90% of information processed in our minds is visually dependent, XR's vivid three-dimensional interactive design allows learning to be more visually based than conventional training. It results in students who are abler to retain the information they see...and feel, with studies showing an improvement of 80% in retention.

Efficient Training That Keeps Companies Working

In the past, trainers would typically need to shut down production or move important equipment of the line for training. XR makes it unnecessary to incur this extra expense when delivering the curriculum. Alongside providing an opportunity for more interactive learning, XR's training ensures that critical manufacturing equipment is running and contributes to overall efficiency as training sessions are delivered.

The streamlining of logistics

The emergence of extended reality technologies such as AR VR, MR landscape, and MR landscape can create a fully-connected system that can locate essentials such as goods, products, and equipment to employees, speeding up their work and reducing waste. Consider DHL since they have installed mobile devices and smart glasses that help employees find their tools more quickly while reducing shipping and packing mistakes.

Better Data Analysis

Data is essential to ensure success in the digital age. The past was when analysts relied on questionnaires, surveys, and so on. to gather feedback from customers. With specific metrics like eye-tacking, biofeedback and heart rate monitoring, and more., XR makes it possible to track customer behavior right through their experiences.

In the world of marketing, collecting data could be an essential factor. The XR tool helps you determine the customer's connection to an item, the factors that affect the purchase of that product, and what kind of content attracts the customers most in an advertising campaign.

Furthermore, the Key indicator of performance (KPI) in the XR-based training program helps companies assess training sessions' effectiveness and evaluate trainees' ability to work in high-risk or stressful situations.

Operations Optimization

Extended reality can allow companies to save time and costs while streamlining their most essential processes. For instance, Boeing uses AR lenses which reduce the cognitive burden of workers when they build an aircraft. Every day, Boeing contains 130 miles of wires. Until the last few years, engineers had to verify their wires by shifting their focus to paper documents stuffed with schemes and diagrams. The implementation of AR made it possible for Boeing to change from cross-checking methods to the line-of-sight method, reduced the possibility of errors and reduced the time required to build wires by 25%.

Quicker Time to Market

Virtual reality could significantly decrease the time it takes between the concept of the product and its commercialization by replacing the lengthy physical prototyping with interactive models. Digital twins are much easier to change over physical prototypes. They are also easier to share, resulting in quicker and more effective decision-making and quicker times to market.

For example, Watermark Products, an agency that designs and manufactures onboard products for airlines, was seeking an answer to the issue of the lengthy cost and time associated with producing prototypes to test the new designs. Today, the company uses Manufacturing AR to effectively bridge the gap between what's displayed on the screen and the actual result. With Augment's Solidworks plugin, they can quickly visualize mock-ups and verify the size of their products.

Extended Reality: The Future of Manufacturing

We're rapidly discovering how extended reality technologies don't only offer an option in the entertainment sector or the world of collaboration. With virtual and augmented reality, businesses can design and develop items faster without putting employees at risk. Training employees more efficiently and providing them the direction they require to be successful in even the most complex tasks.

XR enhances efficiency and logistics in the manufacturing industry as well as assists employees work better with each other. By hiring AR/VR consulting services, it could be possible for a businesses to observe the same problems as an engineer and give instructions in visual form on what to do about an error.

The benefits and use cases mentioned above are only the beginning of what is possible with production and for XR. The benefits are virtually unlimited.

The Key Takeaway

This cutting-edge technology will retain the benefits of extended reality in business and other industries. It will amaze the world with its unique applications. XR is among the most valuable possibilities for the manufacturing industry and opens the door to less risk and cost in addition to improved employee safety and collaboration, effective data management, and innovative marketing options. Make use of the enormous possibilities of extended realities to gain an edge over competitors and be in line with companies focusing on digital transformation over traditional manufacturing methods.