Industrial augmented reality: AR for industries

Industrial augmented reality is becoming increasingly important in the manufacturing sector. It is revolutionizing the way companies operate and interact in manufacturing. In doing so, AR in industries combines the best of both worlds to create an entirely new user experience.

AR Manufacturing: What is industrial augmented reality?

Industrial augmented reality is an important tool for Industry 4.0, making it possible to simplify the manufacturing of goods. It is based on a combination of audiovisual and digital content.

Augmented reality in manufacturing overlays real objects with instructions for action. It is therefore possible for employees to interact with both the real world and computer-generated content. Thus, this technology improves manufacturing capabilities and results.

Benefits of industrial augmented reality

Industrial augmented reality is versatile. It assists companies not exclusively in manufacturing, but in solving problems. These benefits are the reason why more and more companies from different industries are adopting the technology.

  • Supports product variations

    In many industries, it is necessary to produce a large number of variations in a short period of time. A classic example of this is automotive manufacturing. Using augmented reality in manufacturing allows companies to make customizations quickly and efficiently.

  • Assist in assembly

    Assembly is a complex area in manufacturing. Therefore, it poses a challenge, especially for new employees. Here, industrial augmented reality offers relief through concrete work instructions. Even new employees can assemble complex products in this way.

  • Reduce errors

    Thanks to digital work instructions, it is easy to manufacture or assemble products. In addition, these instructions provide a kind of guide. As a result, they increase efficiency and productivity while significantly reducing the number of errors.

  • Ensures the quality of the product

    Industrial augmented reality helps companies ensure the quality of products. No-fault forward steps, for example, are the basis for this. They require active confirmation that digital work instructions have been followed exactly.


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Industrial augmented reality: Different types of AR for manufacturing

Industrial augmented reality can be used in very different ways in the enterprise. In general, a distinction is made between the three main types. They all help to improve the user experience in manufacturing and assembly. This includes making tasks faster and easier to accomplish. Nevertheless, it is necessary to decide on the right type of industrial augmented reality. After all, each concept is based on very individual requirements and therefore fits different use case scenarios. Moreover, if the right type is chosen, it means that the company will benefit significantly more from industrial augmented reality.

Wearables for augmented reality

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) both rely on the ability to see the real world: Both approaches are based on augmenting the real world with digital content. While virtual reality (VR) is about blocking out all of reality, industrial augmented reality is different. Here, the goal is to fade work instructions or real-time data into the employees’ field of vision.

Such wearables are therefore based on a so-called graphics overlay. This means that wearables project certain information over real objects. This has the advantage that the data is always available. In addition, employees can use both hands for their work, which simplifies workflows.

Augmented reality on the tablet

The IoT is the basis for numerous technological innovations. One of them is the software solution for industrial augmented reality on the tablet. The advantage of such a tool is that it is easy to use. Most people are used to using smartphones and tablets. Therefore, the time frame for a separate training is limited.

Here, the tablets or smartphones are a modern replacement for the former routing slips. Here, employees consistently receive up-to-date and relevant work instructions. Even real-time data can be easily viewed on the mobile devices.

Projected AR solutions

Projected AR solutions are another alternative for industrial augmented reality. Here, vision sensors and projectors are used. To use such solutions efficiently in inventory management or for other use cases, a step-by-step preparation of the premises is required. This includes having the right hardware in place to visualize interactive graphics for different workspaces.

Although the projected industrial augmented reality solution requires a higher investment in hardware equipment, this approach is highly effective. It lends itself to assembly, picking, but also to testing and inspection. Even training and maintenance are much easier with projected augmented reality in manufacturing.

6 examples of AR in manufacturing

This in turn means that different departments or groups of people see different information. Industrial augmented reality improves physical, organizational and cognitive ergonomics. In combination, these measures lead to employees appreciating the interaction with AR and being more satisfied at the same time.

To do this, it may be necessary to access both automated process data and manually collected data sets. The data can then be analyzed using evaluation algorithms.

This eliminates intermediate steps such as looking at the routing slip or checking in the computer. The constant visibility of relevant information also ensures that the probability of errors is reduced. Employees, on the other hand, benefit from lower cognitive load and more time to focus on work processes. In this way, industrial augmented reality helps increase quality and sales.

Good to know: Industrial augmented reality wearables don’t have to display only written work instructions. Depending on the respective software and tools, animations, videos, sensory information or audio instructions can also be integrated. Which form of information presentation is the right one again depends on the company and the concrete task of Industrial Augmented Reality.

This means that employees can access the same information in different parts of the company. At the same time, the individual instructions can be specifically adapted to the requirements at hand. This reduces the workload during the introduction of industrial augmented reality.

They can be used, for example, to superimpose work instructions directly into the field of vision.

In addition, industrial augmented reality does not distinguish how many training participants take part in the measures. Therefore, the content can be used for individual training sessions but also for large groups. Such a training can be compared with a hands-on workshop, where each participant has his or her own personal expert at hand.

By the way: Industrial augmented reality supports the employees in the company. Step-by-step instructions or a similar form of knowledge transfer is of particular interest here. This is because the way in which industrial augmented reality responds can be determined on the basis of the skill level. This makes it possible for even less experienced employees to take over the tasks of their colleagues in the event of illness.

In doing so, industrial augmented reality takes a comprehensive approach to inspection. Instead of inspecting only at the end of production, companies can incorporate numerous inspection cycles into the process. In such a case, no adverse effects on the cycle time are to be expected.

How to put industrial augmented reality into practice — step by step

The introduction of AR in industries is a challenge in itself. Companies that opt for smart manufacturing have to take numerous factors into account. Concrete planning of the necessary steps, documentation of required technologies, and process documentation are among the most important upfront measures.

The good thing is that industrial augmented reality pays for itself quickly. This timely time-to-value can be additionally increased by company-specific software developments or adaptations. That said, specialized applications are by no means required for companies to get started with Augmented Reality for Industry. Instead, AR in industries promises a fast ROI.

Step 1: Define business cases

Before companies introduce AR for industries, it is important to identify relevant business cases. They can be used to specifically measure the success of the implementation. Regardless of whether the goal is a general increase in sales or a reduction in warehouse costs: Measurable measures are the basis for an excellent result.

Common challenges that industrial augmented reality can help companies with include: Training employees, creating service documentation, virtual demonstrations or product visualizations.

Step 2: Communication and cooperation

Industrial augmented reality is only successful if it improves the general work situation. Therefore, it must save time in the smart warehouse and manufacturing on the one hand, and improve results on the other.

These requirements for industrial augmented reality can only be mastered with sufficient communication and cooperation. This includes, for example, that different departments or company divisions accompany the introduction of the technology. Finally, different groups of people can specifically name potential obstacles and risks. This in turn means that these factors can be adjusted early on during the introduction of augmented reality in industry.

Clearly identifying helpful tools or obstructive workflows is not only useful, but contributes to the long-term success of augmented reality in Industry. A strict top-down implementation is not recommended for topics like Augmented Reality in Manufacturing.

Step 3: Implement AR step by step

It is advisable to implement Augmented Reality in Manufacturing step by step. Wearables like data glasses are designed to help employees do their jobs more efficiently and effectively. Nevertheless, it takes time to get used to these new technologies. So it’s by no means enough to just load up the smart glasses software and hand out the wearables. Instead, detailed training and education should accompany the introduction of industrial augmented reality.

Initially, an additional test phase with a selected group of future users is a good idea. Through repeated iterations, it is possible to eliminate unclear or confusing parts of the user experience and replace them with conducive patterns. The result is the so-called “minimal valuable product”. It is a form of implementation that has enormous potential for improvement. Nevertheless, augmented reality can already be used purposefully in Industry. An important advantage of these small subsections is that it is easier for companies to measure and verify the results.

TeamViewer Frontline: An innovative software-solution to implement AR into industries

Implementing industrial augmented reality in a corporate context is no easy feat. That’s why TeamViewer supports manufacturing companies to overcome this challenge. This includes, for example, the integration of our AR-solution, Frontline, into the IT infrastructure, but also the expansion of the smart factory. In addition, the combination of software for AR-industries and the integration of wearables helps to revolutionize manual processes.

Importantly, augmented reality in industry does not exclusively benefit the enterprise. Increasing digitization of the work environment supports employees, contributing to overall satisfaction. Additionally, the use of augmented reality in manufacturing improves inspection and maintenance times and reduces potential rework before it occurs. Combined with additional enhancement possibilities such as the field of AI, this creates entirely new opportunities for end users and companies alike.