Promising endless new opportunities for rapid product creation, prototyping, and training, extended reality has infinite potential in the industrial and manufacturing space. Although it’s safe to say XR has a lot to offer virtually every industry, the manufacturing and industrial sectors have been some of the first to explore the potential of this new landscape.
For years, manufacturing and industrial brands have been searching for technology solutions to a range of problems, like slow and expensive product development, and complex training requirements. XR has the potential to unlock the true potential of the manufacturing industry, enhancing everything from design to the testing and approval of products.
In fact, PwC research already suggests the use of VR and AR in product and service development could be the key to driving a $360 billion GDP boost by 2030.
Here’s what you need to know about the state of XR in manufacturing.
The Potential of XR in the Manufacturing Space
Manufacturing and industrial companies are often keen to embrace the latest technologies and innovations in the digital space. After all, competition in the manufacturing space means most companies are under excessive pressure to deliver innovations quickly, in safer, and more affordable ways, with minimal resource waste.
Companies and consumers alike are constantly demanding more from the manufacturing innovators they work with, whether these companies are building energy production machines, or tools for the automotive landscape. Virtual, augmented, and mixed reality tools can support companies in various ways, such as:
- Improved training: Bringing new team members into the manufacturing and industrial space means teaching them how to use a multitude of complex tools. Often, working with these tools in-person can be time-consuming and expensive, as it requires downtime in a facility. However, with extended reality, professionals can learn how to use and master various pieces of machinery with minimal strain for the larger company.
- Rapid product designing: Many manufacturing brands are already using VR to reduce the time between the initial design and modelling segments in product development. The time-consuming need to create physical prototypes is minimized by the ability to create and experiment with digital twins of products in the virtual world. This can make the time-to-market in a manufacturing and industrial space faster too.
- Process improvements: Using AR and mixed reality, engineers and technicians in the field can access collaborative support from other professionals, and even access instruction manuals in real-time. This means experts in the industrial and manufacturing landscape can spend less time browsing through hefty manuals, and more time getting work done.
Trends Driving XR in Manufacturing
In 2020, the XR market reached a value of $25.84 billion. Now, it’s reaching a value of $397.81 billion by 2026, with a phenomenal CAGR of 57.91% during the forecast period. Part of the reason for this rapid growth is the increasing demand for new innovative and immersive experiences in the manufacturing and industrial landscape.
While many companies in this particular sector have been embracing the possibilities of XR for some time, we’re starting to see an increased demand for innovative solutions, particularly in a post-pandemic landscape. Now more than ever, companies need to ensure they’re using the right technologies to make their processes as efficient, safe, and collaborative as possible.
Some of the major trends driving the demand for XR in manufacturing and industrial landscapes include:
- Digital twins in product development: The use of intelligent digital twins in product development represents a great opportunity for manufacturing companies to experiment with new ideas and design products at a much faster pace. With digital twins in a virtual reality landscape, it’s possible to experiment with a wide range of different materials, and even collaborate with colleagues on projects from a distance, all without wasting money on travel and resources. These digital twins will become increasingly common in the metaverse age, as the way we work and communicate becomes more “virtual”.
- Remote maintenance and assessment: In manufacturing and the industrial landscape, a lot of time is often wasted, waiting for engineers and experts to arrive on-site and assess a problem, or confirm a product is ready for shipment. With extended reality, we can reduce the need for travel between industry experts, while still allowing them to access an in-depth view of various products and tools. With the rising evolution of 5G and IoT, it could even be possible for people to test various functions of a machine or device from a distance, using a mobile connection and an application.
- Smart glasses: Smart glasses are becoming a far more realistic potential solution for many aspects of the modern workplace, particularly in the manufacturing and industrial environment. With access to smart glasses, companies can easily access valuable information about a product or machine without having to carry around hefty manuals or books. The same glasses can make it easy to stream video information directly to other members of staff when collaborative insights and guidance are necessary. Improvements in headset design are even leading to AR glasses designed specifically for the industrial world.
With the arrival of the metaverse, the XR landscape could even lead to the development of brand-new products and solutions in the manufacturing space, built just for a virtual world.
Exploring the Future of XR in Manufacturing
With the potential to accelerate product development, improve collaboration, and change the way teams interact on a global scale, XR can make a significant difference to the manufacturing and industrial space. As technology in the XR space continues to grow more advanced, with the arrival of 4K streaming through 5G and haptic feedback, we can even imagine a future where professionals may be able to work with and on complex equipment from a distance.
XR can improve everything from logistics management to productivity in the manufacturing space, while still ensuring teams can work together on creative new ideas for a variety of use cases. We can’t wait to see what the environment delivers next.