Travancore Analytics

The Rising Role of AR and VR in Industrial Automation

March 28th, 2024

Category: ar vr

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Posted by: Team TA

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Industrial automation is a process that uses control systems such as computers or robots to automate machinery in various industries, reducing the need for human involvement while increasing efficiency, accuracy, and safety. This field involves robotics, sensors, actuators, and software to automate tasks previously performed by humans. 

It originated in the late 18th century during the Industrial Revolution, with early efforts focusing on mechanization using steam and electricity. The mid-20th century saw a significant leap with the introduction of programmable logic controllers (PLCs), revolutionizing manufacturing.  Further advancement in computer technology has led to the integration of sensors, actuators, and advanced software algorithms in automation systems. Today, industrial automation is indispensable across industries such as automotive, aerospace, pharmaceuticals, and food processing, enhancing productivity, improving quality, and increasing competitiveness.

As per Statista, the market for AR and VR is expected to generate a revenue of US$38.6 billion in 2024. Moreover, it is projected to grow annually at a rate of 10.77% (CAGR 2024-2028), leading to a market volume of US$58.1 billion by 2028. By 2025, it is estimated that more than 70 percent of the top 200 manufacturing companies globally will use AR/VR to enhance their operations based on data from ABI Research.

The purpose of this blog post is to explore how AR and VR technologies are increasingly being used in industrial automation, examining their integration and impact on various aspects of manufacturing and production processes.

Integration of AR and VR in Industrial Automation

Virtual reality (VR) is a technology that enables users to experience a simulated environment by immersing them fully into it. AR, on the other hand, enhances the real-world environment by overlaying digital information, instructions, or data over physical objects or environments.

Industrial automation is leveraging the power of advanced technologies such as AR/VR, robotics, machine learning, and AI to automate repetitive tasks, optimize processes, and facilitate data-driven decision-making through Automation as a Service (AaaS) solutions.

There are several specific ways in which AR/VR technology is being used in industrial automation today.

1. Enhanced Training Programs

Automation processes can be effectively demonstrated in a virtual environment. This allows employees to understand complex machinery and processes without needing physical equipment. This approach significantly reduces training time and minimizes errors in learning. Industries can invest in the necessary infrastructure and tools to create immersive AR/VR training modules. Augmented Reality (AR) provides on-the-job guidance and instructions, while Virtual Reality (VR) offers hands-on training in a simulated environment, providing a comprehensive learning experience for employees.

2. Real-time Monitoring and Data Visualization

AR/VR technology enhances real-time monitoring and data visualization in industrial automation by overlaying critical information onto physical equipment or factory floors. Workers can instantly access data such as equipment status and performance metrics, facilitating informed decision-making. VR simulations visualize complex data sets, enabling operators to analyze and interpret data in a virtual environment, enhancing efficiency and accuracy in industrial processes.

3. Collaborative Design and Problem-solving

Engineers and designers can identify design flaws, troubleshoot issues, and optimize processes together, regardless of geographical location. This fosters effective communication and collaboration, leading to streamlined design processes and innovative solutions in industrial automation. Car manufacturers like Ford utilize VR headsets to enable global design teams to collaborate on vehicle designs in real-time. Engineers from different locations can virtually examine 3D models, identify potential issues, and propose solutions collaboratively.

4. Maintenance and Repair

AR/VR technology revolutionizes maintenance and repair in industrial automation by providing technicians with immersive, step-by-step guidance overlaid with machinery, facilitating faster and more accurate troubleshooting. For instance, Boeing utilizes AR glasses to guide technicians through complex wiring diagrams during aircraft assembly, reducing error rates by 90%. Additionally, VR simulations allow technicians to practice repair procedures in a virtual environment, enhancing their skills and confidence. According to PwC, AR/VR-based maintenance solutions can reduce machinery downtime by up to 50% and increase productivity by 25%.

5. Remote Assistance

AR/VR technology enables real-time remote assistance in industrial automation, reducing downtime and travel costs while increasing efficiency. Siemens uses AR glasses to guide technicians through complex maintenance tasks. According to a study by the AREA, AR-based remote assistance solutions can reduce accidents by 12% and decrease incident response time by 60%.

Benefits of AR and VR in Industrial Automation

1. Increased efficiency and productivity

Since the pandemic, a global labor shortage has pushed employers to seek automated solutions to meet production demands. Automation has become crucial for manufacturers to succeed amidst quality, environmental, and consumer demand challenges. AR/VR development technologies streamline processes by providing workers with real-time information, guidance, and immersive training experiences. AR overlays relevant data onto the worker’s field of view, saving time and minimizing errors. VR allows for safe and efficient hands-on training in a virtual environment. By enhancing worker efficiency and reducing downtime, AR and VR contribute to overall productivity gains in industrial automation processes.

2. Improved safety and reduced downtime

AR and VR technologies enhance workplace safety and productivity. AR overlays safety information onto the physical environment, while VR simulates hazardous scenarios for safe practice. For instance, Boeing uses AR glasses to improve aircraft assembly accuracy and reduce errors. By increasing safety awareness, these technologies minimize downtime caused by accidents or equipment failures, ensuring continuous operations in industrial settings.

3. Enhanced worker training and skill development

By utilizing tools and platforms based on Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technology, employees gain access to valuable, powerful, and scalable training resources that can efficiently fulfill company training objectives across multiple locations worldwide. With the help of interactive experiences, employees can engage with virtual equipment and processes, which enhances their understanding of safe and efficient operations in their respective roles. This approach ensures consistent training adherence, benefiting both new hires and seasoned professionals while maintaining training accuracy and effectiveness for manufacturers worldwide.

4. Cost savings and ROI considerations

By implementing AR/VR technologies, companies can reduce expenses associated with training, maintenance, and downtime while improving overall operational efficiency. AR and VR enable immersive, remote training experiences, reducing the need for costly in-person training sessions. They also streamline maintenance processes, allowing technicians to troubleshoot and repair equipment more efficiently, thereby minimizing downtime. Additionally, AR-based remote assistance solutions eliminate the need for travel, saving on associated costs. Overall, the adoption of AR and VR technologies in industrial automation results in significant cost savings and a positive return on investment for businesses.

The Convergence of AR and VR in Industrial Automation

The development of lighter and more comfortable AR glasses and VR headsets is expected to increase their popularity. At the same time, software algorithms and computer vision technology are set to improve object recognition and tracking in AR applications. AR and VR combined with emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) make them more powerful and immersive in industrial settings.

The use of immersive technologies in industrial automation is expected to increase as the technology becomes more affordable, user-friendly, and accessible. To remain competitive, companies across various sectors are likely to invest in AR and VR solutions, which will promote innovation. Integrating 5G and edge computing will further enhance immersive experiences. Standardization and regulation will play a crucial role in ensuring interoperability, data security, and user safety in industrial applications. As pioneers in the field of AR/VR development services, Travancore Analytics offers cutting-edge solutions that optimize efficiency and productivity while ensuring seamless integration with existing workflows. Join us in revolutionizing industrial automation with AR and VR – partner with us today.

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