Virtual reality has been a staple of science fiction for years and was presented as a way to simulate reality. It has since then found plenty of real-world applications and has the potential to revolutionize a number of industries.
However, it is the combination of virtual reality technology and the real world to create an augmented reality that is having a greater impact. Not only is it making the work of engineers much easier, but it could completely change what it means to be one in the next coming years. Here are eight ways augmented reality can be integrated with engineering.
One of the areas where augmented reality can be used in engineering is with remote assistance. Remote assistance can be used in a wide variety of settings and can be used anytime someone needs help from a knowledgeable professional. The expert, or in this case, the engineer, is able to see what you’re seeing through the augmented reality or AR goggles. They may be able to point to items in front of you or show you tools and supplies to use to complete a task.
This high-tech solution is a viable way to help someone in the field or at a remote site get work done instead of taking the subject matter expert to the location to do the work themselves. This is why remote assistance is being used in tech support and system maintenance.
Remote assistance has the side benefit of facilitating knowledge. This could allow an older employee or someone on restricted duty to provide expert advice to someone looking at a broken generator or failing production equipment. Technicians can collaborate with engineers to find a solution as fast as possible. As a matter of fact, businesses that have rolled out remote assistance have seen a 50% reduction in downtime.
Another benefit of AR remote assistance is that it facilitates knowledge transfer. Users in the field can share their real-world experience, and experts from anywhere in the world can talk to technicians. On the other hand, if they simply visited the site to fix the problem, this information exchange may not occur.
Better Manufacturing Instructions
Manufacturing instructions could be anything from a five-minute demonstration to a complex user manual. The problem for many manufacturing engineers is teaching people to do very complex assembly operations. These things are hard to inspect as well, but augmented reality offers a potential solution.
AR allows anyone to supervise the assembly work as it is being done. They might ask someone to walk around and show a particular view of the item or run assorted tests. Questions can be answered immediately, while mistakes can be addressed as soon as possible.
One of the many side benefits of augmented reality is that it can allow for on-site inspection without having to dispatch an inspector. Furthermore, augmented reality takes place in 3D. Checking a wiring assembly against a 3D model is far more accurate than comparing it to 2D drawings. This improves operational efficiency while reducing defect rates. In one pilot study, augmented reality used during aerospace wiring operations reduced cycle time by 30% while dramatically reducing error rates.
A Faster, More Accurate Supply Chain
Augmented reality is increasingly being used in warehouses, and manufacturing engineers are using AR to greatly facilitate some processes. The only issue is that equipment can be expensive, which does not always warrant the cost benefit.
While augmented reality can be used with phones, the real potential of AR is unleashed when being used with smart glasses. These devices can help workers find, scan, and sort inventory fast and without effort.
They don’t have to try to read the bar code, and they don’t have to deal with barcode scanners. Heads-up displays relay instructions in real-time. This can save time and money when the alternative is getting lost in a warehouse or searching for a given item. This is why warehouse workers wearing augmented reality glasses are around 15% more efficient than those without.
Augmented reality, just like virtual reality, can be used to train workers and engineers. You could use a VR system to recreate what the operator would see and experience so they can practice processes long before they touch physical equipment, for instance. Augmented reality could take things to the next level, and have them practice what to do if faced with a given problem. It can also let them consult with others when they experience unfamiliar situations, dealing with things in real-time and learning the right solution in the process.
Augmented reality can be used to speed up the development and maintenance of existing documentation, too. For example, augmented reality can be used to speed up quality control inspections while observers can save the real-world scenarios in the database to show to others at a later date, or simply superimpose text and graphics over what students are seeing in real-time. This is already being used in medicine, where medical students are shown the patient’s internal organs, displayed on the patient’s skin.
Car companies, in particular, have embraced the technology, and are using it for all sorts of applications. German carmaker Porsche, for instance, is already using AR to run various tests and use the information to make design changes. They also use AR tools to calculate things such as tolerances, dimensional accuracy, interference, and surface finish.
Not only that, but engineers can also use the technology to assess a particular part or component’s condition. For instance, an engineer could take the picture of a component and use AR to superimpose it over the image that was originally given by the manufacturer. They could then spot irregularities almost instantly.
Computer-Aided Drafting, Augmented Reality, and Its Many Applications
Computer-aided drafting, CAD, is already used to display designs in 3D. Virtual reality and augmented reality can present things the way they are expected to look in the real world. This then allows engineers to see your design at full scale, whether it is an entire simulation or imagining what the redesigned subassembly would look like in the existing space.
You can use AR to compare various configurations to an existing part in front of them so that they can see the potential options. Furthermore, you can demonstrate the item being used in any number of simulated environments. You can demonstrate how it would work or discuss how it would be tested.
This would also have the potential to improve product sales. For instance, you could show customers a variety of customization options, or let them ask for additional information about features as they’re inspecting it.
That’s why mastery of technologies like CAD and AR are essential to your future engineering career. Fortunately, there are ways you can gain this knowledge. Schools like Kettering University have an MBA program tailor-made for engineers who want to learn about high tech as well as finance and human resources. The Kettering University Online MBA combines learning about new technologies and their real-world applications while learning how to determine which ones are right for your particular situation.
One of the other areas where AR has been used is when it comes to the maintenance processes in engineering and manufacturing companies. AR, for instance, could allow anyone using an AR capable device to perform maintenance procedures. The key procedures are now in clear view, and in proper sequence. This makes maintenance much more accessible, and not only allows skilled technicians and engineers to get better, but also helps new ones understand procedures better and how to perform them faster without making mistakes.
AR and Civil Engineering
AR has already been used to demonstrate what buildings looked like at a given point in the past. AR can also be used to show customers or stakeholders what the finished building will look like. You also have the ability to show them in real-time what various modifications of the building or changes to the building plan would look like.
As a civil engineer, AR can be used to monitor processes, test various different options in real-time, or quickly run inspections. They can see missing parts fast, and have corrections made fast.
AR has been used in architecture for a while as well, and can not only be used to test designs but can also help architects communicate and convey their ideas better with other professionals and crew members. Using AR on a construction site could allow them to show their ideas in a clear and intuitive way to builders and civil engineers, who can then process them more quickly. This also gives them the chance to make instant objections, suggestions, or address limitations. This could help drive down costs, reduce miscommunication, and major blunders as well.
AR is already changing the world of engineering and will continue to do so for years to come. The tool is an engineer’s dream, and we can only imagine the possibilities it could unlock in the future.
Also Read: 5 Ways to Use Technology in Your Business
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