Augmented Reality for Manufacturing

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Despite pandemic-related jitters, the global manufacturing sector is back again – and growing. Research from Deloitte points to an expansion rate of more than 4% in 2022, with industry players turning would-be weaknesses into competitive advantages by innovating solutions for supply chain challenges and digital technology adoption.

The increasing use of augmented reality (AR) tools by manufacturers is no exception to this. If the factories of the future, as Harvard Business Review wrote in 2018, will run on better processes – and not simply more sophisticated tools – AR is one of the strongest candidates out there. Its adoption can implement real, radical change that boosts worker experiences, drives innovation, and achieves essential improvements in productivity and costs.

Surveying the manufacturing industry landscape

Priorities for manufacturing, both in 2022 and beyond, will involve meeting several challenges with dynamic and responsive solutions:

For our part, SightCall technology plays a role in several ways. Our AR-powered visual assistance tools minimize slow response and recovery time to disruptions, eliminate the time/cost and carbon impact of wasted dispatches, reduce employee turnover, and prevent proprietary knowledge from being lost.

To gain a fuller picture as to why, read on to understand the role that augmented reality technology can play for manufacturing companies.

What is Augmented Reality in Manufacturing

The complexity of modern technology, diagnostic systems, and computerized interfaces means that technicians now require a higher level of training and certification than their predecessors.

Augmented Reality blends the physical and digital world by superimposing images and text onto a user’s view through a device, such as a smartphone or a tablet, and provides an enhanced composite view.

In manufacturing, AR technology can empower workforces and elevate service offerings through better resolution rates, less downtime, and improved customer satisfaction.

Using tools with augmented reality features can augment a technician’s skills and knowledge by providing them with all the resources they need to complete tasks including instructions, manuals, and even live support from more senior technicians.

In the competitive field of manufacturing, these augmented workers are the key to operational excellence including reduced downtimes, improved customer satisfaction, error reduction and servitization.

What is AR powered visual support?

Visual support connects technicians and experts in a virtual, interactive environment where they can troubleshoot, train and resolve complex work orders with reliable video, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence insights.

Augmented reality tools in visual support allow technicians to make on-screen annotations, get accurate measurements remotely, and share images and information during the live video session.

By using AR-powered visual support, an organization’s most skilled technicians can handle more jobs remotely, giving them the freedom to focus on high-value customers, complex repairs, and supporting technicians in the field.

SightCall is an enterprise-grade video cloud platform helping service leaders improve outcomes without deploying unnecessary support to the field.

What are the benefits of Augmented Reality for Manufacturing?

How many failed work orders would be successful if there was an easier way to receive guidance in the field? With visual assistance, technicians have immediate access to remote experts, ensuring that they are never alone on a service call. From any mobile device or wearable, they can receive live, AR-powered assistance to help them resolve complex tasks.

Customers using AR for manufacturing see an average of:

Looking for a visual augmented reality solution for your company?

How can digital process automation improve manufacturing processes?

Digital process automation (DPA) harnesses technology to standardize workflows, improve performance and mitigate errors that traditionally hold essential processes back. Its use entails both self-guided maintenance and human-guided visual assistance.

Rather than replacing any part of the existing service experience, DPA boosts technicians’ work and person-to-person connections with customers.

SightCall’s own Digital Flows solution digitizes manual processes to improve efficiency and reduce error. With the help of standardized, step-by-step guidance, including detailed instructions and checklists, technicians and service workers can complete tasks with no ambiguity or confusion.

The training process also becomes more straightforward, with digital process automation providing new technicians or workers needing to upskill with an immersive and straightforward learning experience, mirroring the field service situations they will encounter on a daily basis.

Augmented Reality for Manufacturing Use Cases

Customer Support

Manufacturing organizations can differentiate themselves with a modern approach to customer support. With immediate visual assistance, they can reduce the service wait from days to minutes.

After deploying SightCall, MacDermid Graphics Solutions saw a 20% truck roll reduction in the number of work orders that required sending a technician on-site. Customers were guided through issues with their printers with the help of a remote expert, increasing first-time fix rates and improving the customer experience.

Technician Support

Manufacturing organizations can equip their service teams with one-touch visual assistance through a mobile app or wearable, improving uptime and empowering their technicians to accomplish tasks on the first call.

A global engineering company launched a technical help desk (THD) to assist its technicians with field maintenance to reduce the number of repeat visits. Now, with visual support and AR technology, technicians can get live support if they encounter a problem.  Within six months of deploying SightCall, the client saw a 19% decrease in its technician callout rate and a 50% increase in first-time fix rates, which now exceed 80%

Hands-on Training

Manufacturing organizations can empower their technicians with the ability to learn new skills on the job. Less experienced technicians and engineers can use visual assistance, AR and AI to guide them through new repairs and complicated work orders.

Fike Corp has seen success in using SightCall AR-powered visual support for training and onboarding new technicians, helping them avoid a developing skill shortage. Junior technicians can join a session alongside their senior counterparts to see their best-in-class support in action, allowing Fike to onboard and nurture internal talent in real-world settings while providing excellent service to their customers.

Data-Driven Maintenance

Using AI driven insights, manufacturing organizations can make informed decisions by identifying parts, diagnosing issues, and proposing data-based solutions.

When service technicians from MacDermid Graphics Solutions are dispatched to the site, they use tools such as Smart Optical Character Recognition to accurately read and interpret data on a machine. They can identify printer parts with 100% accuracy by simply taking a photo. All information is fed directly back to the case file, speeding up repairs and reducing parts wastage with no manual data entry required.

Inspections/Quality Assurance

Technical work can be inspected and signed off on via live video. Videos, photos, and support documentation/data are saved to the case file for future reference and audits.

Kraft Heinz has successfully used AR-powered visual support to reduce travel time and increase the efficiency of its inspection processes. Previously, visits such as factory tours and inspections could take up to three days and sometimes required multiple visits. This was due in part to the need to review relevant documents and certifications while onsite, something that can now be done remotely in advance. With less travel, simple coordination, quicker resolution times, and the ease of storing related documentation, the number of inspections and audits conducted has skyrocketed.

Self-Guided Maintenance (digital process automation)

By replacing old paper processes with AR digital processes, field agents can self-guide through a pre-structured set of workflows. SightCall empowers technicians in the field, giving them step-by-step instructions to independently complete a work order.

A multinational energy technology firm, one of the world’s largest oil and gas exploration companies, uses SightCall to document their repairs and collect information directly to their CRM. By using these Digital Flows, each step in any inspection and repair process is fully auditable. Technicians who need assistance on repairs can instantly escalate to a video session with a remote expert.

Transform Your Service Organization

Using AR-powered visual support, your organization’s most skilled technicians can handle more jobs remotely, giving them the freedom to focus on high value customers, complex repairs and supporting technicians in the field.

SightCall’s enterprise-grade visual support platform harnesses the power of AR to allow technicians to work at their maximum potential, regardless of their experience level or expertise. Start your digital transformation journey and request a SightCall demo.