Augmented Reality (AR) has and will have wide-ranging applications in consumer and industrial spaces, e.g. manufacturing. Maintenance is important in the manufacturing industry. It directly influences performance, productivity, and product quality. Maintenance processes are constantly being improved upon and can be taken to new heights with advances in AR.
Augmented Reality for Asset Maintenance
Augmented Reality allows users to enhance their field of view with real-time superimposed digital information. This allows users to make use of information about an asset or to access step by step instructions on how to repair an asset while actually working with that asset. The applications of AR in maintenance have a great deal of potential. They provide users with the ability to receive information about specific assets instantly. Some of the proven advantages of using AR for maintenance include:
- Reduced human errors
- Reduced execution time
- Reduced breakdowns
- Reduced downtime
- Reduced cost
- Increased productivity
- Increased operation speed
- Increased fix rates
- Increased compliance
- Increased profit margins
The opportunities to integrate AR into maintenance processes is extensive. The ability to track your work, document it, and send it to managers could be enhanced by leveraging wearable technologies that provide engineers with an elevated view of assets. For example, companies can utilize AR technologies to provide written instructions “on top of” assets, reducing the number of hours spent on-boarding new employees. To gain a more concrete understanding of AR applications in industrial maintenance, let’s take a look at some real-life examples.
Real World AR Maintenance Applications
The following real-life deployments will hopefully illuminate how AR maintenance applications are providing value to a wide range of businesses. As a first example, GE has already implemented AR in some processes and are currently reaping the resultant productivity and efficiency benefits:
- GE Aviation—Experiencing an average of 8-12 percent in efficiency
- GE Renewable Energy—Wiring technicians are yielding a 34 percent increase in productivity
Numerous other companies are focused on developing AR technology for maintenance applications:
- DAQRI is focused on AR maintenance and industrial applications. It has developed a wearable AR tech smart helmet for industrial use. Engineers can see 4D images above assets in their facilities that prompt them with instructions and also give them a mapping of all asset functionality. This wearable technology allows engineers to discover asset information faster and closes the knowledge gap for new hires.
- UpSkill connects a workforce via AR, leveraging its wearable technology to guide technicians in real-time tasks, checklists, work orders, and sending information to managers.
- Worklink has made it possible for users to create their own smart instructions for assets to allow for less human error, increase safety, and also walk engineers step-by-step on repair processes. This can increase the time it takes to complete work by also complying with facility procedures.
As AR, VR, and IoT technologies gain traction, the potential use cases for such technologies will grow widely in scope and in the number of opportunities. Maintenance is just one area where AR can make a large impact, and it is already doing so. It serves us well to understand AR’s role in what people are calling “Industry 4.0.” It will be exciting to see where the industry heads in terms of AR adoption in the future.