Most people are probably familiar with the exciting advantages offered by virtual-reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) in the context of movies and headsets which are used as an interface between an observer and external images. However, the same technology is now being adapted for use in many other applications beyond recreational uses.
Companies are springing up all over the country now which are making use of both AR and VR for manufacturing applications, to help improve production methods, lower scrap rates, and increase the quality of manufactured products. Here are some of the ways that augmented reality and virtual reality are being adapted for use in manufacturing processes, to achieve significant benefits for the manufacturers using them.
New team members can be brought on board and acclimated much more quickly to any kind of work environment, and they can be taught how to use all necessary tools and equipment much more quickly through the use of AR and VR video projections. This kind of immersive introduction to the company work environment can orient employees much more thoroughly and effectively than ordinary videos or manuals can. If need be, the same instructional projections can be viewed repeatedly, until an employee has completely mastered any required techniques or procedures.
A great many more job shops are now providing assembly services to clients, which creates the need for a system that will allow machine shop employees to quickly and accurately identify components and sub-assemblies that will be required to build a product. A system like this could highlight all the parts of a finished good assembly, and guide an employee through the process of building it, with clear and simple instructions that can be projected in a headset worn by the worker.
Employees on the shop floor might use a similar system for machine setup. Another possible application in this area would be to create a system which shows employees how to configure specific components for kit assembly, or for delivery to the assembly station of the customer himself.
Augmented reality technology is perfect for serving as a kind of interactive manual to be used in the process of repair or maintenance. Already, systems are being developed which will eventually be able to zero in on problem areas, project them into the user’s headset, and recommend repair procedures. This will significantly shorten time needed for diagnosis, and even for the repairs themselves.
Another area of great promise for augmented reality and virtual reality systems would be to clearly depict a specific workflow to a user, so that no steps would be missed in the process, and fewer mistakes would be made throughout the workflow. This is another system which is already in development and testing, and is even being used in some large factories.
It will undoubtedly mature into a highly reliable system that can be used to ensure even the most complicated workflow is followed accurately and precisely. Another huge benefit of providing these kinds of systems to employees is that it empowers those employees, because they now have all information necessary to do an outstanding job on whatever the process is.
Inspection processes can be improved, and the overall quality of products can be enhanced by using augmented reality systems that project digital images of a part to an inspector’s headset. By comparing the actual part or finished good to the digital version of it, any obvious discrepancies or flaws can be immediately identified and isolated. It can also speed up the inspection process, by making any deviations very obvious to the inspector, so that parts requiring rework could be immediately identified and set aside.
At AAA Tool & Machine, we have become recognized as a valued partner in the metal stamping industry for our strong Tool Design and Build competency. This, combined with our metal stamping capacity, precision machining services, and EDM capability make us a full service provider that can deliver value in your tooling and stamping needs. Contact us today to see how we can help you work even better.