Augmented Reality on the production line
Though maintenance has been the go-to application in industry for AR, there are opportunities for machine operators as well. Here are three findings from a pilot project in the food industry.
Augmented reality (AR) is one of the most trending technologies associated with any Industry 4.0 or smart manufacturing initiative. No client says he’s not interested in evaluating it and understanding what benefits it could bring to his company. Most of the time, any use case being considered is associated in some way with maintenance. This is a very low hanging fruit—not because it’s easy to implement, but because it’s easy to imagine what to do with it and it perfectly solves common maintenance difficulties.
Considering it an important opportunity, I wanted to test how AR could help an operator running a production line in his daily activities. In collaboration with a client, we started a pilot in the food industry, selecting three use cases not related to maintenance: key performance indicator (KPI) visualization, changeover instruction and traceability. The goal of the pilot was to understand if there was any value in giving an AR tool to the operator, and if this could facilitate his daily activities. We have just very early feedback at the moment, but there are some findings already that I think could be interesting to share:
1. Stay close to the real AR key characteristic.
2. Interaction with AR is more complex and time-consuming than with standard mobile apps.
3. Before considering the development of any app, ask yourself if you could do it instead in a more traditional way and what real value the new graphical interface will bring to the user.
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