Industrial / Training Applications
Defining AR and VR
AR transforms how information is consumed by overlaying digital content and analytics onto the real world. For example, imagine being in a manufacturing setting and being able to, with the help of 2-D and 3-D eye-wear, cell phone, or tablet, view operational data, drawings, documentation, and blueprints overlaid onto the machinery and plant floor. It also can provide step-by-step procedural guidance, operator set-up, and change over instructions, workflows, processes, and more.
On the other hand, VR creates fully immersive experiences. Instead of overlaying data and analytics onto the real world, VR creates a simulated environment. Imagine being able to virtually visit a remote plant or a plant still under construction, such as an offshore oil and gas platform, without having to send trainees on-site.
Leveraging decades of manufacturing, process engineering and project management experience, Immersive VR Technologies custom tailors any Extended Reality (XR) application to your needs.
Here are some working examples of what XR can do for your business.
- Data Management
- Analytical-minded leaders and those who love to work with numbers use XR for data management. Considering the vast amounts of data in the manufacturing industry today, it's a viable solution to the ever-growing problem of big data.In a typical use-case scenario, a warehouse uses XR in tandem with machine learning and advanced artificial intelligence to locate products, scan them into the system and even determine if they have the right item. AR allows them to complete this process much faster and more efficiently than previous methods.
- Quality Assurance
- Some manufacturers are using XR to support quality assurance, too. Porsche, a well-known manufacturer of luxury automobiles, began testing XR in the factory in 2016. Their internal XR initiative — one of the first of its kind — uses highly sophisticated lasers to scan finished parts, including full vehicles, and compare them against specifications stored in the cloud.Porsche's QA technicians, positioned on the production floor, then use tablets to capture images of any questionable parts or obvious defects. The tablets use digital, XR-generated overlays to verify the technician's work and help determine which parts pass inspection and which ones need more work.
- Equipment Maintenance
- XR isn't just for the workforce. This kind of next-gen technology has implications across the entire production floor. With so many new jobs requiring advanced knowledge of VR or AR technologies, it's becoming harder to ignore XR.Instead of relying on the best guesses and estimates from technicians and maintenance personnel, smart factories use XR to facilitate preventive and predictive maintenance. Not only does this cut down on the expense of unnecessary, routine maintenance, but it also makes it possible to detect or predict production bottlenecks and machine failures with greater accuracy than ever before.
- Training and Instruction
- Many current XR applications involve staff training, instruction or education. Instead of referring to a book that might contain hundreds or thousands of pages, or sitting through hours of tedious lectures, new hires and trainees use headsets and goggles that broadcast the pertinent information directly in front of their eyes.Apart from making it easier and more exciting to learn new concepts, systems like this free up trainees’ hands for taking notes or completing tasks. It's a great way to combine next-gen technology with hands-on learning and instruction.
- AR training use casesTypically, workforce development in manufacturing consists of traditional methods, which is generally a mix of printed manuals, computer-based trainings, role-playing, and shadowing. These methods are time- and cost-intensive and deliver mixed results despite the significant expenses. Printed manuals can be difficult to interpret; videos aren’t interactive and can’t be tailored to individual needs; and role-playing can be difficult to schedule and can impede production and reduce productivity. These types of training materials are also time- intensive to create and maintain, and, if there isn’t offline equipment available, all the knowledge gained from training still needs to be put into real-life context.AR addresses the needs of multiple learning styles and has many benefits. AR:
- Makes training visual, auditory, and kinesthetic
- Provides step-by-step visual and-oral instructions in real-time
- Helps workers navigate the factory and warehouse more efficiently
- Identifies the proper tools and parts required for a task
- Provides step-by-step instructions
- Alerts and corrects missteps along the way providing real-time feedback
- Overlays key performance metrics and operational data onto equipment to illustrate how the factory is responding to changes.
For example, if a controls or maintenance engineer is alerted that a motor isn’t working, AR can lead an engineer or technician to the spare part in the warehouse, help direct the person to the location of the motor in the factory, provide step-by-step directions on how to safely perform lockout-tagout (LOTO) procedures, and display guided instructions to remove the old motor and install the new one. Upon completion, AR can then show how to properly start-up the machine.
AR versus traditional training methods
After completing coursework, trainees are evaluated to ensure understanding and comprehension of key subjects, including LOTO procedures, process hazard methodologies, OSHA guidelines, and more. In some cases, trainees may be subjected to hands-on assessments; in others, it may only be testing for certifications.
Certifications and hands-on assessments have drawbacks. With paper and digital exams, trainers fail to assess if trainees grasp the real-world concepts required to be successful. With hands-on assessments, trainees are tested on valuable concepts, but data, such as human error and measures of overall performance, is lost. This data is instrumental to improving future training programs.
AR provides a means of combining the best of both evaluation methods by subjecting trainees to hands-on examinations while capturing those essential pieces of data required to enhance training. AR has the power to recognize when the wrong part is leveraged, when assembly steps are completed out of order, when it takes too long to complete a task, or even when a misstep causes a safety risk.
Using VR to prepare and train for emergency scenarios
Regardless of the level of training, in manufacturing there are situations all controls engineers need to be prepared for. Traditional training methods can’t or don’t adequately address these scenarios.
In process industries, where safety is the utmost priority, operators and controls engineers need to be prepared for situations that they hopefully never encounter in their career, such as a runaway reaction, chemical leak, or explosion. Or situations that may happen only once a year such as shutdown and start-up. In discrete and hybrid manufacturing, operators need to be prepared for product changeovers, equipment upgrades, and emergency situations where quick action is required to mitigate and prevent the risk of damage to property and personnel.
These are situations where VR can add immense value. With immersive digital twins, controls engineers can role-play and practice emergency response scenarios. Within the context of the manufacturing environment, they cannot only train for how to respond, but can also learn how different responses impact operations. Digital twins and VR also offer the opportunity to train operators when a physical environment isn’t available, whether the facility is under construction, in a remote location, or is unsafe.
Immersive VR Technologies can help your business leverage the power of XR. Call today to schedule your free consultation.