The manufacturing environment is a great source of new ideas, especially when it comes to efficiency gains. Starting from the end of the 80’s the lean thinking approach and its methodologies have changed the way factories work and perform, targeting waste and giving people the most appropriate training to give their best.
The increasing digitalization of industrial processes has led to the formalization of the Industry 4.0 trend, which tries to group a bunch of new technologies which are capable to bring manufacturing operations to the next level.
Among the lean methodologies, World Class Manufacturing (WCM) has conquered many leading manufacturers worldwide which implemented it in their processes and obtained consistent performance improvements.
WCM Pillars impacted by Augmented Reality
The World Class Manufacturing methodology is structured into 10 technical pillars and 10 management pillars, each one focusing on a specific aspect of the industrial organization.
While Augmented Reality is potentially useful to a wide range of scenarios, what we know for sure is that the technology is capable of making a great impact on the following WCM pillars:
This pillar refers to the set of simpler maintenance tasks that can be carried out by the machine operators without a dedicated intervention from the maintenance department. It involves operations like cleaning, lubrication and inspection. Autonomous Maintenance reduces pressure on maintenance professionals and avoids the machines are run up to the breaking point.
In this context Augmented Reality is of great help in the process of training operators to perform simple maintenance tasks they never run before.
While Autonomous Maintenance is performed by machine operators, Professional Maintenance requires a higher level of specialization and a dedicated maintenance team. PM concerns taking care of machine breakdowns and more complex preventive and predictive maintenance tasks.
Augmented Reality is particularly suited to support PM activities as a training technology as well as a step by step support in complex maintenance procedures. It is also very useful at standardizing procedures referred to same activities, but that are performed differently at different locations, something not uncommon in the case of companies with widespread operations.
Tightly linked to the development of human resources skills is the PD pillar. When the workforce has been involved and when training gaps have been identified, then Augmented Reality, and Virtual Reality as well, come into play. AR has proven to be an excellent technology to speed up the learning process in many fields, including industrial training. The people to be trained has the chance of learning something new directly on the field with the aid of visually presented information.
How to implement AR into industrial processes
Companies who understand the huge potential of Augmented Reality in industrial contexts and may want to evaluate whether the technology works as expected in their context, should take into account the following industrial roadmap we suggest.
According to this approach companies should consider to start with a pilot project on a real application case inside the company in order to experiment and assess if AR delivers what expected in terms of benefits.
After a successful pilot the company will be ready to extend the technology to other use cases in a structured manner using an appropriate software platform.
For these purposes take a look at our HyperIndustry platform, designed to provide manufacturers with a vertical tool which enables the power of Augmented Reality to support multiple operations in the shop floor.
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