James Mann, Enterprise Business Development Manager at Getac discusses why manufacturers are increasingly turning to Augmented Reality technology to solve operational challenges in the post-COVID landscape.
Despite the concept of Augmented Reality (AR) first appearing almost twenty years ago, it’s only recently that hardware and software have reached a point where commercial AR is finally becoming a reality. That said, the timing couldn’t be better. With the COVID-19 pandemic still imposing unprecedented restrictions on global movement, this exciting technology could well hold the key to many of the operational challenges manufacturers now face.
What is AR?
AR combines elements from the real world with digital representations. Unlike virtual reality (VR), it does not fully immerse the user in a digitalised world, but rather integrates digital information in the perception of the user, enriching the real-world representation with virtual elements and providing context relevant data. Doing so combines the advantages of both concepts (digital and real-world), allowing for hands-free operation and removing the need for an additional device for entry or display purposes.
What are its practical applications for manufacturers?
One of the applications with enormous potential is the maintenance and repair of industrial machinery over large distances. With the manufacturing industry suffering from a growing skills shortage, many organisations have a relatively small pool of skilled experts that they rely on to lead repair operations all over the world. However, ongoing COVID restrictions mean they are currently unable to physically travel, which leaves virtual consultation the only option available. Adoption of AR technology can significantly enhance the quality and capability of long-distance repair work, enabling experts to remotely connect with less skilled technicians from anywhere and walk them through complex tasks step-by-step.
Such an approach also offers numerous side benefits. Not only does it enable better knowledge sharing between skilled and lesser skilled employees, helping to reduce skill gaps, it also helps manufacturers cut their carbon footprints (and expenses) by eliminating unnecessary employee travel.
At a time when the combination of growing skill gaps and global travel restrictions is putting increasing pressure on manufacturers everywhere, AR technology offers a timely, technology-based solution. As adoption continues to grow (IDC predicts worldwide spending on AR and VR will grow from $12.0 billion in 2020 to $72.8 billion in 2024), it offers one of the best ways to share expert knowledge in a cost efficient and environmentally conscious way.
To find out more about Getac’s manufacturing and AR solutions, please visit https://www.getac.com/en/industries/industrial-manufacturing/