How are manufacturers using VR/ AR? Pretty much any way they can. According to our survey, the most popular application of AR and AR was product design and development (38%), followed by safety and manufacturing skills training (28%), maintenance, repair or equipment operations (19%) and remote collaboration (19%). [Note that respondents could choose multiple answers.].
What we’re seeing, then, is VR/ AR as an advanced manufacturing technology tool—just like robotics, 3D printing, and the Internet of Things. And they’re being used in innovative ways. Some companies are fitting warehouse workers with smartglasses which read barcodes on containers of supplies inventory boxes and provide details contents and destination/ origin information. Others are using it them for remote maintenance: picture a field technician that relays a live image of a part that needs to be fixed and a remote colleague supplies relevant data, instructions or images that could serve as a virtual repair manual. Or, smartglasses that help track complicated assembly processes to ensure that all parts are assembled in the right sequence without the down-time of consulting a clipboard, manual or even tablet. To take yet another example: parts inspectors can take a photo of a part that needs to be modified, and also add a spoken record of the issue and relay those data to the appropriate co-worker in seconds.