Virtual and Augmented Reality as Helping Hands in Production
Today’s work environments become increasingly digitized and connected thanks to automation, cloud infrastructures, big data and the IoT. But this is not all that industry 4.0 has to offer: More and more virtual and augmented reality applications are entering productions plants.
Using virtual and augmented reality applications on printed products such as magazines and packaging is by far nothing new to the printing industry. But these state-of-the-art technologies might also enhance the manufacturing process of such products since they empower employees and machines to work more efficient. This is why these applications match the industry 4.0 mindset perfectly.
How the Games Industry Changes Production
Today, hardware, software and IT merge increasingly fast and closer supporting staff members to work more efficiently and avoid claims, accidents, or even total breakdowns. The constant optimization of workflows is needed to ensure a profitable business no matter what sector.
By means of automation, cloud infrastructures, big data and the Internet of Things, the growing digitization helps with this – just to name a few keywords. This development enables machines to exchange information with other components within the system. Finally, the gained insights allow for more control, efficiency and flexibility.
But the shift towards smart factories hasn’t finished yet. More and more companies think outside the box and draw inspiration, for instance, from the games industry. Augmented, virtual and mixed reality have long been standards and also have the potential of taking production processes to the next level. They are, for example, able to create surroundings that don’t exist (yet) or add information to reality. Thereby, complex technologies become more tangible and workers receive assistance in difficult tasks. We gathered two examples illustrating the added value virtual and augmented reality applications offer:
Smartphones and Tablets as Co-Workers
Smartphones and tablets increasingly enter production plants thanks to the smart services they provide: inexpensive prototyping or efficient planning processes in logistics. For instance, planning a facility or a warehouse with virtual reality before it’s even built saves time and money. Next to fitting the equipment in their exact future position, it’s possible to test the ergonomic conditions. After all, cutting-edge sensors can virtually mimic how people move in real life. This allows the employees to arrange everything the way it’s most practicable for all of those involved.
Troubleshooting From Far Away
While virtual reality creates an entire digital environment, augmented reality is able to put computer-generated data or virtual objects on live images, e.g., when visualizing temperatures. Potential application fields are maintenance services and repair works, respectively. Augmented reality goggles can enable mechanics to see machines that need to be maintained or fixed. For example, signal lights might display the maintenance requirement of certain components. It might even be possible for technicians to share their point of view with a location-independent expert giving instructions on how to repair a specific part.
A Science Fiction Workspace
All in all it becomes clear that there are many changes ahead for all working in manufacturing companies. Even today, we already use technology which would have been considered as a Sci-Fi scenario just a few decades ago. But although highly intelligent technology is key for progress, it’s obvious that it can’t completely substitute mechatronic know-how.
Do you already use virtual or augmented reality in production? Let us know in the comment section!