How OEMs leverage scalable mixed reality technologies for efficiencies
MR allows industrial designers and manufacturers the ability to conduct real-time 3D visualization and CAD for design and manufacturing
Automation / Robotics
Like many other industries, manufacturing is in a renaissance of technology that’s reshaping the way organizations leverage efficiencies in an effort to make products faster while using fewer resources to bolster the bottom line. This is especially critical today, as global competitive pressures have turned up the heat on manufacturers of all sizes. And with COVID-19 impacting virtually every business on the planet, companies will increasingly rely on technology to help the bottom line.
One technology in particularly is getting a closer look by many manufacturers – Immersive Mixed Reality (MR) – which is best described as a fully immersive experience that brings virtual objects into the real world or one which blends the physical world with the digital one.
MR technologies, including Augmented Reality (AR) are poised to grow considerably over the next few years. In fact, The Augmented Reality market forecast is expected to reach $70-$75 billion in revenue by 2023.
What is Mixed reality for Manufacturers?
MR allows industrial designers and manufacturers the ability to conduct real-time 3D visualization and CAD for design and manufacturing; faster training cycles; and professionals can work at drastically higher levels. In fact, some manufacturers report minimized errors using MR through instructions overly, remote assistance, and better planning and visualization. This has resulted in a more than 40 percent increase in productivity in some instances. MR technologies provide significant time savings to the manufacturing build process through optimized decision process, which positively impacts the entire OODA Loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act).
These bottom-line improvements are made possible because of the greater efficiencies MR offers. The technology offers a three-dimensional, computer-generated environment that allows designers and engineers to interact with product builds by a person. That person then becomes a central part of this virtually created world in the form of a hologram, or is “immersed” within the production with the capability to manipulate objects or perform a series of actions in real time.
Reduced Maintenance Times
Manufacturers are leveraging MR with customers during maintenance calls so as to avoid using outdated manuals for more precise and timely fixes. Some manufacturers leverage MR today during customer calls to the support line, where engineers serve as onsite remote experts able to see what the customer sees, offering guidance as if the engineer was actually onsite with the customer.
Increasing The Quality Control Process
The use of overlaid information is becoming more widely used in MR at manufacturing facilities, where quality assurance requires solutions that can improve results while lowering costs. Many manufacturers and designers are now leveraging holograms, 3D imagery, and animations in real-world production and this is resulting in not only faster production times but with more accuracy.
Improved Employee Training Cycles
Training programs have received a significant boost through MR, no matter if it takes place in a traditional classroom setting or an online course for employees. There are great efficiencies found in this method since it requires less need from full-time staff to be away from production lines for training exercises. This is realized when students leverage MR modules, with curriculum overlaid onto real-world parts and assemblies to enhance training and skill-sets more rapidly and accurately.
Easing The Loss of Retiring Employees
As more Baby Boomers retire in the next few years, manufacturers will need to replace these critical production line jobs. Some of these positions can be offset by MR technology that utilizes remote support solutions.
How Manufacturers are Overcoming MR Challenges
However, many firms are finding challenges in employing MR technologies. Enterprise-grade high-quality MR platforms require both performance and scale. However, existing MR systems such as MS HoloLens and others are severely limited in both aspects. Most enterprises have a rich repository of existing complex 3D CAD/CAM models created over the years. These 3D models may vary in its complexity (such as poly count, hierarchy, details, etc), making it difficult to run on standalone MR devices, restricted by device limitations. This forces developers to decimate the contents (3D models/scenes) to fit to different mobile devices, spending months in the process and sacrificing on the overall quality of the experience.
As these virtual environments become richer and larger, the problem continues to compound. This cycle is repeated for each of the different MR hardware platforms, making it difficult for any enterprise to move from experiments and pilots to full scale deployable solutions, thus stunting the speed of innovation and effectiveness
The device limitations also severely restrict the capability of existing MR systems to generate and work with very fine mesh with large polygon count models and point clouds, which is essential to collocate and precisely fuse the virtual objects on top of physical objects in the real world with complex surfaces, and varied lighting and environment.
Many manufacturers are overcoming this great challenge by partnering with providers of cloud-based (or remote server based) MR platforms powered by distributed cloud architecture and 3D vision-based AI. These MR cloud platforms provide the desired performance and scalability to drive innovation in the industry at speed and scale.
Industrial enterprises and manufacturers today are experiencing the next wave of technology innovation that will fundamentally alter the way they operate. This transformation is primarily driven by merging of the digital and physical world to create a better, smarter and more efficient way of operating. Immersive technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR) technologies are playing a pivotal role in this transformation. The organizations that take a leadership role will be the ones that not only leverage these technologies, but they will partner with the right technology provider to help scale appropriately without having to stunt technological growth.
About The Author: Dijam Panigrahi is Co-founder and COO of Grid Raster Inc., a leading provider of cloud-based AR/VR platforms that power high quality AR/VR experiences on mobile devices for enterprises. For more information please visit www.gridraster.com.