The American manufacturing industry is currently undergoing a bit of a rough patch.
In 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics noted a rise in productivity in just 21 of 86 manufacturing sectors – the lowest number since the recession in 2009. A report states 82% of today’s manufacturers are experiencing either a moderate or severe shortage of skilled workers – a gap that is only expected to grow wider. And, recalls in the automotive sector alone hit a record 53.6 million in 2016.
But despite these obstacles, things are looking up for the manufacturing industry, especially with widespread adoption of innovations like manufacturing 3.0 and augmented reality technology, like LightGuide Systems.
Enterprise AR, specifically, is revolutionizing the modern manufacturing process, and greatly benefiting the growing number of factories that are adopting it.
We’ve had the great pleasure of experiencing this firsthand. To shed some light on these benefits, here are four ways enterprise AR is helping to save American manufacturing.
1. Enterprise AR Helps Save Time
In manufacturing, the phrase “time is money” couldn’t be more true—companies count on their factories to assemble and ship their products on a strict schedule. Augmented reality helps companies save more of that valuable time by standardizing manual manufacturing processes and sequences.
By projecting a digital operating “canvas” directly onto a work surface and providing audio/visual prompts, guidance, pacing and direction, projector-based AR like LightGuide Systems drives manual processes with speed and precision.
Our enterprise AR also collects data that allow manufacturers to see where weaknesses lie in their process, and identify solutions for greater efficiency and more efficient training solutions to help bridge the skills gap and decrease ramp time.
2. Enterprise AR Helps Save Money
No manufacturing sector is immune from experiencing issues, such as component misalignment; stripped, cross-threaded or over-torqued bolts; bottlenecks or human error. The rework costs that can result from these mistakes can be significant.
Projector-based AR helps creates a no-faults-forward approach. By directing the operator through a series of audio and visual prompts, it verifies that the operator is putting the right part in the right place at the right time.
The results speak for themselves. Users have documented a 90% reduction in errors and a 40-50% reduction in cycle time when operators use LightGuide Systems in place of traditional work instructions.
Enterprise AR also integrates with existing tools on the factory floor, which makes for an inexpensive alternative to purchasing new, automated technologies.
3. Enterprise AR Helps Save Jobs
An aging workforce has altered the manufacturing landscape over the past decade, causing a shortage of new workers and a gap in skills needed to fill empty positions.
Since more sophisticated and technical methods of learning are required in manufacturing sectors like medical, automotive and aviation, AR technology can prove invaluable as skilled workers retire and new trainees seek guidance.
Projector-based AR solutions work with people to drastically reduce ramp-up time for new hires by overlaying a “digital canvas” onto a physical workspace, and walking workers through even the most technical tasks step by step.
4. Enterprise AR Helps Save Lives
Quality is always imperative, but product error in some manufacturing sectors, such as medical device, aerospace or automotive, can spell disaster for the company and its end user. Additionally, many manufacturing plants have safety requirements within their processes that must be strictly followed to ensure worker safety within the factory. Failure to properly follow these policies can, and tragically does, result in thousands of injuries and deaths per year.
Enterprise AR can eliminate these obstacles and save lives by ensuring every step of a manual manufacturing process is done right, each and every time. In 2015, OSHA reported 4,836 workers were killed in on-the-job accidents in the United States alone. Enterprise AR certainly cannot eliminate all workplace accidents, but even a small improvement in safety policy training, compliance or effectiveness is worthwhile in helping to reduce this number.
LightGuide Systems, for instance, is being used by manufacturers to require operators to select appropriate PPE for the job they are performing and record a signoff that they utilize it properly. Our system is also being utilized to provide workers better feedback about current machine states to help ensure they are not caught unaware by machine operation.
Want to see how enterprise AR can benefit your business? Send us a message, and a member of our solutions team will be in touch to discuss the challenges you’re facing and talk through various augmented reality applications that could drastically improve your manufacturing operations.