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Mixed Reality Benefits and Uses in Manufacturing

Mixed Reality Benefits and Uses in Manufacturing

Tracy Watson

12/11/2020

7 min read

mixed reality technology uses for manufacturing

Like augmented reality, mixed reality (MR) offers many advantages for companies operating in the manufacturing sector. While both AR and MR superimpose digital content onto the physical world, what makes MR more exciting is that the content will appear as a hologram that actually rests on a physical surface. This should not be confused with virtual reality (VR), which is fully immersive, and the user only sees the digital content displayed by the device. 

With MR, an employee can put on a head-mounted display, such as Microsoft HoloLens or any other. They will be able to move around the digital objects via voice commands or gestures as if they were moving the real-world objects. While such cutting edge technology is very exciting, what practical benefits does it offer manufacturing companies? Let’s explore some of the benefits of mixed reality in manufacturing. 

Reduced Maintenance Call-Out Times 

Many companies have extensive and often outdated manuals that employees need to check to get an answer to even a simple question. Thanks to mixed reality, those same employees can put on a head-mounted display and get the information they need. Since they don’t need to consult a manual, this significantly speeds up the process and reduces the need to check knowledge. There is additional business uses for mixed reality in this regard because when a support call is placed, the person on the other slide can see exactly what the person placing the call sees. It’s almost as if they were in the same room together. 

mixed reality in production

Optimized QA Process

The quality assurance process is often very tedious, but it is essential to make sure that a product meets the necessary requirements. For example, manufacturing a commercial aircraft is a very extensive process, and making sure everything was done correctly was also a long, drawn-out process in and of itself. There were so many comments, suggestions, recommendations, etc. that it was very time consuming to go through all this. Thanks to mixed reality, all of this information could be laid on top of the real-world object instead of entered into a computer, which significantly simplifies the process. QA managers can place text, icons, images, and 3D models to real-world objects, allowing the QA process to run smoother. 

Immersive Mixed Reality for Manufacturing Training

If your employees are tired of reading printed materials, watching videos, or sitting through PowerPoint presentations, then consider replacing such outdated methods with MR. All of the educational materials can come to life when the employee puts on a head-mounted display, and they can literally interact with what they are learning in real-time. For example, suppose they are learning step-by-step instructions on assembling a certain part of an aircraft or whatever it is they are building. In that case, this information will be overlaid onto real parts allowing them to get a better understanding of the material. 

Also, in addition to training your current employees, MR can help you overcome some of the labor shortages the industry is experiencing as Baby Boomers start retiring. Not only will you be able to train new employees faster, but you will also be able to retain some of the knowledge that would otherwise be lost as employees start retiring. The head-mounted displays can also be used as remote support, allowing the retiree to assist the new employee somehow. 

mixed reality in manufacturing

Mixed Reality Pros and Cons

When we looked at some of the benefits of MR, we only looked at one aspect of it, i.e., what are the pros of mixed reality technology. However, we should talk about its downsides as well. 

To summarize, here are the mixed reality pros: 

  • Its interactive and immersive nature allows the user to absorb and retain more information;
  • You are able to share your experiences with other people in real-time over long distances;
  • Simplifies and streamlines complex processes;
  • It can help you get a competitive advantage by capturing and contextualizing data.

Here are the cons of mixed reality: 

  • The high cost of development;
  • Additional costs to procure head-mounted displays;
  • There is a learning curve for the everyday uses of mixed reality.

Start Using MR to Get Ahead 

All of the benefits we mentioned above are already being realized by lots of companies in the manufacturing industry. That is why you need to start incorporating MR in your daily operations to keep and get ahead of the competition. Skywell Software is a mixed reality company that creates customized solutions to fit your specific needs. Regardless of the complexity, we will utilize our industry skills and experience to allow you to take advantage of the paradigm shift where MR is starting to be used for more sophisticated and demanding tasks, such as quality control, production control, and actual manufacturing in assembly lines.

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