Manufacturing companies are currently experiencing a shift in operations. As new technologies are increasingly becoming integrated, researchers forecast digitization as a must for the survival of future manufacturing companies.
The Management and Production Engineering Review explains that these smart factories “will be able to plan, organize, and even control the production themselves.”2)
With the growing importance responding to mass customization from manufacturers on behalf of their clients, technologies such as virtual and augmented reality provide solutions that were not possible before.
Virtual and augmented reality allow for accelerated product design cycles. Not only are production costs considerably reduced, but ultimately a more valuable product can be produced.
Virtual Reality Applications
Virtual reality assists in the process of cutting many expensive costs and time constraints, specifically in the construction of physical prototypes. In what is coined as “virtual manufacturing” by S.K. Ong and A.Y.C., authors of Virtual and Augmented Reality Applications in Manufacturing3, engineers can design and evaluate new parts for industrial applications in a 3D CAD system. More importantly, the industrial product/part can then be viewed and studied in a fully-immersive and interactive virtual environment.
Augmented Reality Applications
The benefits of augmented reality range from assistance in assembly planning to intelligent control and maintenance functionalities. As a digital overlay in the user’s field of vision, augmented reality provides users with live information about products, as well as with interactive instructions, which demonstrates why AR is already experiencing excellent results in the field of employee training.
In comparison to other training tools such as printed manuals or computer instructions, utilizing “augmented reality reduces the error rate for an assembly task…by 82%.”4 – Virtual and Augmented Reality Applications in Manufacturing by A. Tang, C. Owen and W. Mou
The Fourth Wave of Industry: Industry 4.0
Historically, the manufacturing industry has experienced several technological advances which are markers in improved productivity. “Industry 4.0: The Future of Productivity and Growth in Manufacturing Industries”6, explains how we are currently in the fourth wave of manufacturing’s advancement, namely through digitization and the application of new technologies, including integrated end-to-end supply-chain planning, smart robots and artificial intelligence, for example.
In 2018, PricewaterhouseCoopers, a global company leader in data analysis, auditing and consulting services, conducted its annual global study to measure the digitization progress of more than 1,000 global manufacturing companies.
Virtual & Augmented Reality Will Be Used Heavily Going Forward
From 1,155 global manufacturing companies surveyed, PwC discovered that 73% of digitally mature companies, or companies that are excelling in technological adaptation, have already begun the implementation of virtual reality/augmented reality solutions into their manufacturing processes.
PwC Global Head of the Digital Operations Impact Center boldly said, “Companies that fail to embrace this radical change (of Industry 4.0) will likely struggle to survive.”
New Technologies of Industry 4.0.
The New Technology Ecosystem of the Manufacturing Industry
The article “Industry 4.0 – An Introduction in the Phenomenon” published by ScienceDirect explains the new model of how information will be shared in a digitized factory.
As we move away from the isolated units in the present production model, we are reaching a new technology ecosystem (as named by PricewaterhouseCoopers).
This new ecosystem allows for real-time information on “purchasing, order planning, assembly, logistics, maintenance, the customers and suppliers” and more to be accessed – at any time of the product life cycle.5
PwC defines this new technology ecosystem to include “artificial intelligence, 3D printing, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and sensors, augmented and virtual reality, and robots.” – PwC Global Digital Operations Study 2018
A Role Model for Digitization: Productivity and Revenue Gains of GE Electric
General Electric Digital embarked on a journey in 2015 to reach $1 billion in productivity gains by 2020 solely from the application of new technologies.
GE Digital not only reached their goal, but they did so in two years – by 2017.
In addition, costs associated with cycle times and repair and maintenance were reduced by $200 million. Various other benefits were also seen such as the availability of smart data and the digitization of manual workflows.
GE Electric plans to continue developing their digital strategy for industry, and stated that:
“Moving forward, GE Digital is emphasizing the importance of edge technology, artificial intelligence (AI), and virtual reality (VR).” – GE Digital, USA7
How Can Digitization Affect Your Factory?
Researchers from the article posted at Inovasyon took Germany as a case study to quantify Industry 4.0’s economic effect. Conclusively, they view four distinct areas in factories to be affected: “Productivity, Revenue Growth, Employment and Investment.” 6
With the implementation of new technologies such as virtual and augmented reality technology, industrial-component manufacturers are expected to achieve some of the biggest impact: 20 to 30% productivity improvements.
Employment in factories is forecasted to grow by 6 percent, especially in the white-collar work force who are skilled to work with new technologies.
Manufacturers are forecasted to be investing in new technologies, and additional revenue from digitization’s productivity benefits are estimated to grow in revenue by €30 billion per year.6
What is the Future of the VR/AR Market?
The virtual and augmented reality market is expected to grow across many sectors. In collaboration with the Interaction Design Foundation and SGW Designworks, the World Economic Forum explains this growth because virtual prototyping ultimately leads to not only better products, but also “faster product design cycles, cheaper versions, and immersive testing and demos.” 1
The VR/AR Market, according to Goldman Sachs’ article “Augmented Reality Starts to Liven Up the VR/AR Market” is expected to be huge, at an estimated $95 billion by 2025.
In a Nutshell
The new technologies that form Industry 4.0, including virtual and augmented reality, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI), are expected to boost productivity and revenues in manufacturing sectors worldwide, (given factories begin with digitization.)
In conclusion, we at realworld one look forward to the future of the manufacturing industry and to our future collaboration – as we continue our journey to bring science and industry inside of virtual and augmented reality.
1 Creative Disruption: The impact of emerging technologies on the creative economy. World Economic Forum in collaboration with McKinsey & Company.https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-4471-3873-0_16 2004
2 Smart Product Design and Production Control for effective mass customization in the Industry 4.0 Concept. P. Zawadzki, K. Zywicki. https://www.degruyter.com/downloadpdf/j/mper.2016.7.issue-3/mper- 2016-0030/mper-2016-0030.pdf 2016.
3 virtual and augmented Reality Applications in Manufacturing by S.K. Ong, A.Y.C. Nee. 2013.
4 Performance Evaluation of augmented reality for Directed Assembly by A. Tang, C. Owen, F. Biocca, W. Mou. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-4471-3873-0_16 2004.
5 Industry 4.0 – An Introduction in the phenomenon. F. Zezulka, P. Marcon, I. Vesely, O. Sajdl. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2405896316326386 2016.
6 Industry 4.0: The Future of Productivity and Growth in Manufacturing Industries. http://www.inovasyon.org/pdf/bcg.perspectives_Industry.4.0_2015.pdf 2015.
7 PwC Global Digital Operations Study 2018. https://www.strategyand.pwc.com/media/file/Global-Digital- Operations-Study_Digital-Champions.pdf. 2018.