Augmented and virtual reality goes beyond video games and social media. Today, Siemens is already using both technologies to deliver class-leading solutions to its clients.
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Spending cash on infrastructure and technology upgrades for your factory in a turbulent South African economy seems like a waste of money. Or is it?
According to PwC, more than a third of all manufacturing businesses in the USA will be using augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) by 2018. Start-ups in the AR and VR space are thriving. Angel-funders and venture capitalist firms invested USD700 million in innovative Silicon Valley tech companies in 2015 alone. If you don’t upgrade, how are you going to compete?
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“We’re using various devices together with unique software to develop augmented reality and virtual reality training programmes and maintenance solutions for automotive and industrial manufacturing clients,” says Mohsen Rezayat, chief solutions architect at Siemens. These devices range from Samsung’s Gear VR headset to Microsoft’s HoloLens. Siemens believes that AR and VR can speed up your training cycles and improve your uptime.
Reduce the time and effort taken to train
“Let’s say you have a bunch of trainees in one location looking at an engine. Or you have a person that is having trouble in the field with a physical device, but the mentor or technical expert is in another location. We can re-create a virtual environment where the two separate locations see one and other as avatars through a headset. The mentor can then interact with that engine while trainees watch, or the tech expert can interact with the device that an in-field employee is having trouble with,” Rezayat explains.
Training and development of staff is a costly, time consuming affair. If you use AR and VR, you can speed up the time it takes to train staff, according to Siemens. The will be a cost involved in buying AR and VR headsets for employees, but there’s a range of affordable headsets coming to market – including the much-touted Oculus Rift.
Strip and assemble machinery virtually
“In an augmented reality environment, and engineer or maintenance technician is able to strip an engine to see what it’s internals look like without having to physically take it apart,” adds Rezayat.
“The technician can see the problem part, how it work’s in relation to the other parts, and find a solution to any problem faster than having to physically strip components.”
Couple this ability to strip machinery in augmented reality, with the ability to remotely connect and collaborate with people in another location and you’ll quickly realise how much faster you can make business decisions on repairs and maintenance. If a key machine goes offline, you can use one of Siemens’ AR technologies to connect with your technician to collaboratively look at the problem and decide on a way forward – in real-time.
Related: How VR technology is transforming the construction sector
More on AR and VR from Silicon Valley
Rezayat joins a panel discussion on the impact of AR and VR for manufacturing businesses. Watch the video if you’d like to learn more about the technology and how it might affect your manufacturing niche.
Manufacturers in the United States, to improve their competitiveness, are already using augmented and virtual reality technologies. If you don’t investigate how the tech can help you improve operations, you might lag behind the leaders in the industrial world. As more technology companies look to offer AR and VR solutions, prices will come down, but there’s not time like the present to get familiar with working in cyberspace.