Technological advances in manufacturing have greatly changed the field (and the world) since the industrial revolution. Techniques like the assembly line, manufacturing machinery, and industrial robotics have allowed for faster, safer, and more prolific manufacturing.
The application of artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and virtual reality are sure to be the next phase of technological advancements in manufacturing. In-the-moment analysis, intelligent maintenance, in-the-moment ordering, and other developments will change the way we manufacture and use products in the future.
Many manufacturing companies use PDF instruction manuals, printed out by customers. They are difficult to follow and need constant updating. From phones to planes, these products require thousands of parts to be assembled.
Augmented reality and AI enable the display of video instructions, with detailed drawings for assembling. Customers can work while following instructions via VR glasses or using a mobile device.
Maintenance and Troubleshooting
When it comes to maintenance, the currently process might be as follows:
- Customer uses a manual to try to identify the issue
- Unable to fix, customer contacts manufacturer
- Manufacturer creates incident report or support ticket
- Back and forth communication to try and resolve issue
- If needed, customer is sent return or maintenance instructions; ships product to manufacturer
- Manufacturer fixes and ships back or sends replacement product
This process is time-consuming, costly, and prone to human error. With AI paired with VR a customer can view a 3D display which overlays on the product and helps pinpoint problems. A remote support technician could also view this feed and help walkthrough fixes with the user.
As with most industries, manufacturing centers rely on a team of on-site experts for solving technical problems. In rare occasions, skilled techs are brought from offsite if the issue cannot be resolved by local maintenance workers. By using live 3D AR models, complex issues can be resolved between experts and local support more quickly, cheaply, and efficiently. The use of such augmented reality can reduce the time of repairs by 4 times.
This can even impact the area of training. Experts in their field see first hand what remote workers are engaging. They can then give step by step instruction for hands-on learning. Thus providing real time teaching with superior learning
For QA, adding cameras connected to AI on assembly lines would allow automated processes to be signaled. If the computer identifies an irregularity, the item will be immediately removed from the queue. Simultaneously, if continuous faulty items are noticed, replacements can be ordered automatically.
This type of in-the-moment diagnostics prevents billions in returned products, replacements, and forfeited sales. Updating a new part to a product can be cut from weeks to hours. This is done simply by having intelligent sensors identifying when new parts are required, placing a request with the design department, then printing a three dimensional model for testing.
When it comes to safety inspections, specification images from the supplier can be layered onto live photos in the field. Any errors are quickly identified using VR. Some inspections like this have been shortened from weeks to a matter of days.
Conclusion: Evolve to Compete
Ultimately, the benefit of artificial intelligence applications utilizing AR and VR compound worker’s capabilities and production. Thus creating augmented workers. A key to competing in the future of manufacturing is by implementing these digital processes. This is especially true as the competition increases and companies develop quicker operations.