How Can Augmented Reality Help Manufacturers?

VR, or virtual reality, head-sets have been long in development but are now marketable products, although reviews are still mixed. While full VR is still a dream of gamers in particular, augmented reality (AR) is where most exciting developments and opportunities are emerging. High-tech manufacturers are exploring AR for use on factory floors.

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AR glasses, headsets and screens superimpose additional information on our view of the real world instead of replacing it with a virtual one. They can provide a wealth of smart information and guidance or extend perception beyond what is actually visible. AR is particularly useful during complex tasks when fast accurate decisions are needed and was first attempted in aircraft cockpits, where it is still developing today.

Complex Assembly

Today’s AR is small, fast, light and ever-cheaper. Obvious industries in which to deploy it are in assembling complex circuitry and electronic products like smartphones and of course VR and AR devices themselves.

Manufacturing of this kind requires assembly of hundreds of tiny components in the right order and as fast as possible. Components and assembly instructions constantly change, and even automated production lines need checking, testing and frequent adjustments.

Providing crucial information via AR is far less arduous than issuing a constant flow of drawings and instructions in document form. AR allows just the key information to be provided when and where needed. Designers, trainers and management are relieved of the burden (and dangers) of version control.

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Other technological developments that accelerate manufacturing assembly simply make AR assistance more timely and necessary. These include advances in metal bonding adhesive that are allowing products, including electronics, to be manufactured faster. Technical drawings and videos recorded during previous assemblies can be projected on to AR glasses, allowing workers to stay up to date with these new methodologies. (For details of new metal adhesives see http://www.ct1ltd.com/product-applications/metal-to-metal-adhesive/).

Maintenance and Repairs

Some maintenance tasks are far from simple, and procedures are constantly updated. Repairs are often undertaken in confined spaces and limited time frames, making constant trips to dials, manuals and store rooms almost unthinkable. In these scenarios, versatile new tools like AR and metal bonding adhesive increase productivity and safety and minimise waste, overheads and downtime.

AR equipment can help a service engineer visualize a particular model of machinery and identify problems and solutions before they even arrive on site.