Augmented Reality can facilitate the creation of a smart shop floor for the metal industry

Augmented Reality can facilitate the creation of a smart shop floor for the metal industry

Atanu Pramanic, Joint President & CIO, HINDALCO dwells upon the use cases of Augmented Reality in the metal manufacturing industry and the benefits that can be accrued from its enterprise adoption

Augmented Reality is beginning to get a toehold in the metal manufacturing industry. AR has seen a fair amount of interest amongst the steel and aluminium manufacturing companies who are deploying it with a high level of maturity. AR assisted business-oriented applications have tremendous potential and can result in a significant simplification in manufacturing processes.

AR can be used in the metal industry in several contexts. An AR platform can help organizations as employees collaborate and help their co-workers do their work remotely. Though it might not eliminate the human touch it will help remote/digital support with AR aided platform and accomplish higher productivity/efficiency with the limited onsite or semi-skilled workforce.

It can furnish the required updates to help them gather information on everything that’s happening on the manufacturing floor. It can help the maintenance crew see which equipment and hardware need servicing, and identify other issues related to maintenance and performance.

The AR platforms support the technician on-ground with digitally aided additional information around the machinery data and thus improves the problem solving / repair/downtime work efficiency positively. It helps to zero down to the best option/solution with additional information support around the problem genealogy.

A maintenance crew can use an Augmented Reality device to relay information every time they visit the factory or warehouse floor. This would take the guesswork out of the process, allowing for faster repairs, quicker response and recovery times, and better operations all around.

The AR-enabled mobile apps can capture your QR codes, live images, graphics, and video feeds which you might have captured as a part of your IIoT platform. The data captured can be used along with VR and simulation models to expedite the whole production chain.

AR can be used for technical training and skill development of the low skilled or semiskilled workforce. We can reskill them or augment their skill with the help of an AR-enabled training program.

Augmented Reality is helping the metal industry by facilitating the faster onboarding process, refresher / in-depth training, and also a great enabler for down-skilling technical work with proper digital aided HMD or other devices. Many OEMs today come with in-built Augmented Reality platform support or extends the Augmented Reality platform as part of AMC. The maturity of such a platform's availability on HMD makes it more convenient for the resources to utilize them for higher productivity.

With the right AR applications and devices, the new and inexperienced employees can be trained, reskilled, informed, and protected at all times without wasting additional resources.

Augmented Reality based job aids can facilitate the creation of a smart shop floor. AR can be used to reduce production downtime and to improve the turnaround time on the maintenance of machinery.

By using Augmented Reality, engineers can increase accuracy by up to 95 percent. As the process/protocols are aided by digitally augmented information around the equipment/machinery, it reduces human error and improves efficiency to a great extent.

While there is a growing interest in the adoption of Augmented Reality amongst the steel and aluminium manufacturing companies, they need to work very closely with the technology service providers to deliver a successful AR deployment within their enterprise.

There are some implementation challenges around change management, user resistance, slow adoption due to the slow learning curve, and poor integration with other existing technologies.

There are some key ways in which metal manufacturing companies can wring the maximum benefits out of the technology.   With collaboration and support from the technology vendors and service providers, some of these challenges can be overcome.

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