In the digital world of Industry 4.0, the main today is to integrate digital-cyber-virtual and physical world. This is not just a technical matter, in fact from a technological point of view everybody is thinking about the Internet of Things. However, we need to remember that Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are equally important.
VR and AR are being used in a number fields for over quite a few years now and it ranges from a consumer application to manufacturers. But the greatest value it is offered through its countless application and in a combination of other technologies is in the manufacturing industry.
The term industry 4.0 is actually used for the transformation based on VR and AR. It is a reality which is unfolding this article is being written and is going to speed up in the next decade as the manufacturing industry will derive more clear benefits. The hardware and application both will mature and push the next level of digital transformation towards the reality of Industry 4.0.
The variety of use cases of VR and AR in Industry 4.0
VR and AR are poised to play a more important role in the earlier stages of a manufacturing industry where escalation and improved productivity (quantity, quality, flexibility and speed) is needed than in the later stages which involve innovation and a total business transformation is required.
It is not so difficult to idea about how simulation models and the use of augmented reality can boost the speed of the production chain if it is fed with the right data. The same is true about augmented reality in maintenance. The possibility of putting a virtual layer on top of everything or every reality in all kind of industry environments using devices like AR/VR glasses is always there.
The use cases of AR/VR include milling and production, collaboration and education, planning, assembly, security, testing and digital modelling. The advantage of VR/AR is creating an immersive experience and marketing experts especially in the manufacturing industry should also be looking into using these technologies for showcasing the product. This is exactly the same reason for which automotive industry is getting the lion’s share of attention in use cases of AR/VR.
VR and AR could play a very important role in operation as well if the service people, factory worker and the logistic worker can perform way better when they have the required information hands free and in front of their eyes. The result is a better processing and with fewer flaws.
Today’s scenario of Augmented reality in Industry 4.0
We still have not reached the stage where we could say that VR and AR are mainstream in the industry and it is to be found mainly in product designing, in the virtual training program and in the simulation of important scenes and examinations of key assets in factories. In plain words, it is to be most likely in the fields with high stakes and high risks.
The main use cases of VR and AR is in the area of training of process manufacturing, assembly and safety. However, the retail industry has taken the lead when it comes to spending on VR and AR.
We have already mentioned that showcasing plays an important role in manufacturing especially in a customer-facing situation as well as in designing and development. Because, in the end, someone needs to sell the product by convincing a customer. This does not mean that AR and VR could be used only to selling product, even in the consumer industry and definitely not in industry 4.0. This is visible in the growing trend of using augmented reality in various industrial IoT platforms.
The trends related to AR and VR in Industry 4.0 and beyond
The IDC prediction about the global spend on AR and VR is that it will double each year till 2021. The segment that is all set to be the largest in 2017. However, in Western Europe and the US, the process manufacturing and diverse manufacturing industry already rank third and second.
In the US, process and diverse manufacturing are anticipated to overcome the consumer sector during the period of forecast together with retail, construction, transportation, government and professional services. On the other hand, in Western Europe, diverse manufacturing, retail and process manufacturing are anticipated to speed up fast at the end of the forecast period. Now let us look at the spending forecast.
- Retail showcasing will account for a total investment of $442 million
- On-site assembly and safety will account for a total spend of $362 million
- Process manufacturing training will account for a total $309 million.
It needs to say that at the end of the forecast period, though the bulk spending will be distributed in industrial maintenance with an amount of $5.2 billion and public maintenance with $3.6 billion. This indicates that industry 4.0 will more and more be using IoT for maintenance, prevention and prediction.
Application of VR/AR is numerous and broad-ranging from manufacturing to logistics to transportation and in many other sectors. One of them is education.
It is quite clear that VR/AR’s employment and applications in manufacturing and other industries are currently focused on training and safety but it is getting diversified quickly.
A few use cases of AR and VR
AR in the enterprise: 5 use cases
- A connected group of remote workers – hands-free communication has an immense benefit and in the cases of medical first respondents, field engineers in an oil-rig or a linesman on a power pole communicating with their superiors through VR are very helpful.
- Warehouse and logistic – increasing efficiency in logistics and warehouse operation help to improve the overall functioning of an enterprise. For example, smart glasses have helped the workers in DHL immensely to improve their warehouse operation.
- Simplify complex tasks – AR has helped Boeing to minimise their manufacturing errors by 80%
- Visualizing Data – with the help of AR technology data can be analysed in real time and could be projected visually to improve the understanding.
- Education and learning – AR could be used not only to train a person for acquiring a skill but helps the learners to better understand complex concepts like milky way or structure of an atom. It is always easier to understand any concept if it is explained visually. The person who is working in a versatile industry could grasp the workings of any machine better with the help of AR.
VR in the enterprise: 4 Use Cases
- Customers can try the product before they buy it – today many manufacturing companies are utilizing the technology of VR to sell their products. A home designer and home appliance retail chain Lowe is using VR technology to design bathrooms and kitchens and customers after viewing the design are suggesting changes. As this process is carried on before any appliances leaving the store it saves a lot of money of the company and the simultaneously the customers are also having an enhanced experience.
- Tourism is another industry where VR is being used extensively – People could now take a virtual tour of Antarctica as well as Eiffel Tower or the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Amazingly VR is not just giving a visual experience but auditory as well as the sound of sea waves and winds, seagull’s calls etc. The big hoteliers are also using VR to offer a virtual tour of their rooms.
- Education and Learning – just like AR, VR technologies also could be used for learning. In fact, it is best for linking various learning simulations. VR helps trainers at the different level and at the different profession like medical, disaster management and oil rig engineering.
- Improved customer satisfaction – VR has already been used to enhance customer experience. VR could enable the retail shop owners to present all the available models to a customer visually without bringing them in physically. The models developed earlier, as well as the models planned to be released in near future, could also be displayed.
The call now is to get your business VR and AR ready
In the Industry 4.0, those AR and VR use cases will flourish which could help avoid risks and optimize the end to end manufacturing procedure in every possible way, enhance productivity, customer satisfaction and help field engineers, doctors and other people in a risky profession practically. This is not just a technical matter but much more than that. So we should look forward to experiencing more and more AR and VR usage around us in the next decade.