8 Ways AR Can Help Your Company

No longer residing within the realm of speculative fiction, Augmented Reality (AR) has already arrived and is delivering ROI to companies today.

January 24, 2018

Wondering how AR can positively impact your team and bottom line?

Here are eight ways AR can help your company today.

1. Knowledge Transfer through Augmented Work Instructions

As the “baby-boomer” generation approaches retirement, their decades of experience will soon disappear – forever! Replacing these baby-boomers is the tech-savvy and digitally-aware Millennial workforce. One of the best ways to transfer the “intellectual know-how” of any company preparing to lose its aging workforce is to commit this expertise to digital content and augmented work instructions. Companies can replace weeks of expensive 2D classroom training, manuals, drawings, and work instructions with digital content (3D models and simulations), enabling the new workforce to be functional and efficient while reducing costs and downtime. In the process, the tacit knowledge workers have fortified over decades of operation will be safeguarded and imparted onto the next generation of workers.

2. Contextually Relevant Information

AR delivers on the promise of the Industrial Internet of Things. The IIoT boasts an abundance of information, but lacks the means to properly distill and relay it to team members. Fortunately, AR does just that. An operator can be given small, bite-size pieces of information in a contextually relevant manner, meaning the information is relative to the equipment he is beside and the task he is performing. The operator can then make more well-informed decisions, as they aren’t overloaded with information. More, AR can effectively prevent an “alarm-avalanche” in emergency situations, where one error subsequently triggers a series of errors in other areas of the plant. Contextually relevant alerts and reminders act as a vital tool for operators, improving task performance, efficiency, and safety as a result.

3. Remote Expert

In the immediate term, baby-boomers can continue fulfilling the “expert” role, acting as real-time, remote mentors for new employees. Using AR’s Remote Expert functionality, experts can assist new hires with tasks, delivering live expert information. Consequently, novice employees no longer need to wait hours or days for feedback due to location or other constraints. Remote Expert allows a user at a computer to connect to a worker in the field with an AR wearable, such as DAQRI Smart Glasses™. The remote worker can speak with the field worker, see exactly what they are looking at, and even draw instructions for them to view. Real-time assistance increases both employee accuracy and cost efficiency, all within a shorter time period.

4. Multi-Skilling

The copious amount of time required to achieve expert level produces a shortage of certain industry specialists, creating a bottleneck in some companies. With AR, workers no longer need to be experts to successfully execute a task, just qualified. Augmented work instructions can encapsulate years of experience, empowering someone who is qualified (but not quite an expert) to complete a task they would otherwise be unable to accomplish. Even if they hit a roadblock, an expert can use Remote Expert to talk them through the task, reducing the time to repair a piece of equipment by hours, days, and even weeks.

5. Reduced Learning and Classroom Time

Relearning a task because it has not been performed in 6+ months often requires days of classroom work. With augmented work instructions, a worker never loses track of current steps in the process, eliminating the need to revisit the classroom. Additionally, field technicians can visualize what is most important, resulting in greater learning retention (80% compared to 20%) and increased operational efficiency. Through this immersive education, novices are also able to learn faster with the ability to simultaneously put their knowledge to work as they learn on-site. Aside from dramatically reducing the time required to learn and implement a new task, tasks are flawlessly executed by an experienced operator.

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Figure 1: The City of LA saved an hour and a half in training time and about 37 minutes in first-time device assembly

6. Error Reduction

By outlining and monitoring required steps, augmented work instructions can effectively reduce errors to zero, even if a worker is performing the task for the very first time. With all operators performing an identical sequence of steps for a specific task, a certain standard of quality is established. Even experts are reminded of steps they might have forgotten or skipped, ensuring consistency across the board.

7. Streamlined Data Collection

With the ability to actively or passively collect data from the varied steps and tasks of a job, less documentation is required post-task, allowing the worker to complete more assignments and perform less data-entry within a work day.

8. Increased Safety and Confidence

Overall, contextually relevant knowledge inevitably increases worker safety and confidence. Considering highly technical roles in high-stress environments, workers are often confronted by increased uncertainty in their tasks. Access to correct information, a simplified job process, and successful task completion are critical. AR addresses these needs while providing indications of dangers in the area (such as heat sources, radiation, gases) with navigation instructions away from such hazards. AR delivers hands-free work instructions, freeing the operator to complete their task without the need to divert their attention by consulting hand-held manuals. The operator is also given the confidence that they have completed all necessary pre-check safety procedures in the correct sequence (such as LOTO – Lock-Out, Tag-Out) before executing an inspection or maintenance on a potentially dangerous piece of equipment.

The AR Journey Begins Today

Accessing the right information when and where it’s needed empowers teams to do their best work. With shared knowledge delivered by AR increasing efficiency, consistency, and safety, the power of augmented reality is palpable.

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Figure 2: Results of Siemens’ implementation of AR in gas burner assembly and hub inspection

Guest Post Written by Michael Pentony, Director of Enterprise Sales (EMEA)