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Executive Summary

Real World, Augmented Reality, Augmented Virtuality, Virtual Reality…

How many realities can you have in industrial automation?

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • We have entered a fourth industrial revolution, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
  • Virtual reality, augmented reality, and other realities are a big part of this revolution.
  • Reducing maintenance costs is one of the main use cases for AR.
  • AR captures institutional knowledge and helps new employees get up to speed.
  • Today the most common AR implementations involve goggle or tablets/smartphones.
  • AR and VR are not passing fads. They are here to stay.

We have entered a fourth industrial revolution, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

The fourth industrial revolution is well underway. It focuses on digital transformation and creation of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). A key part of this revolution is technology that enables new realities—including virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR).

These new realities are already being applied in industrial settings and are poised to grow exponentially in the next few years. Common use cases include deploying augmented reality to dramatically decrease maintenance costs and rapidly expedite the learning curve of new hires.

Those companies that adopt these new technologies have the potential to realize significant financial benefits, to differentiate themselves, and to create a competitive advantage.

We’ve summarized the webinar on this page — and you can also register to view the webinar recording, download a PDF of this summary and download the webinar slides.

Simone Gianotti
US EcoStruxure Industry Business Development Manager, Schneider Electric

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Real World, Augmented Reality, Augmented Virtuality, Virtual Reality… How Many Realities Can You Have in Industrial Automation?

In our recent webinar, Simone Gianotti described what virtual and augmented reality are and discussed the role they are already playing in industrial automation.

Humanity has previously gone through three industrial revolutions:

first-industrial

First industrial revolution

First industrial revolution was based on steam power and mechanization.

second-industrial

Second industrial revolution

Second industrial revolution was driven by electricity and mass production.

third-industrial

Third industrial revolution

Third industrial revolution was based on computers, robotics, and the introduction of automation.

The 4th Industrial Revolution

This fourth industrial revolution also involves digital transformation. It includes smart production, empowered users, optimized assets, and creation and use of digital products.

Cloud

Big Data

IoT

Digital Twin

Machine Learning

Mobility

Analytics

AR/AV

digital-transformation

Virtual reality, augmented reality, and other
realities are a big part of this revolution.

Throughout the first three industrial revolutions the only type of reality was the real reality.
But this has changed, as technologies now enable new types of realities.

New Types of Realities

Virtual Reality

VR is a complete immersion experience that puts people in a fully digital world and shuts out the physical world. An example is a game where participants use a light saber. (See video)

Augmented Reality (AR)

AR is an overlay of content on the real world, but the real-world content and the computer-generated content are not able to respond to each other. An example is Pokémon Go.

Mixed Reality

An overlay of computer-generated content on the real world. The real-world content and computer content are able to react to each other in real time. An example from a televised football game is the computer-generated yellow first down line that appears on the screen (but not on the actual field).

Augmented Virtuality

Predominantly virtual space, where real-world elements can be dynamically integrated. An example is a VR experience that involves other senses like touch or smell.

The lines between augmented and mixed reality are blurred.

For simplicity, people in industrial automation refer to all mixed and augmented reality as “augmented reality.

The four most common ways in which industrial automation uses AR are:

Variables monitoring
Variables monitoring
to show how well assets are working. Includes key performance indicators (KPIs), assets status, warnings, and alarms.
Maintenance
Maintenance
documentation and tasks. AR can be used as a documentation repository and can store step-by-step maintenance processes and procedures. It can also enable safe maintenance solutions by virtual access to a system that would otherwise require strict safety processes.
Operation
Operation
using standard sequences that can be visualized to drive quality, efficiency, and accountability.
Training
Training
through how-to-videos and operational sequences that can be followed safely and securely.

Why AR?

Reducing maintenance costs is one of the main use cases for AR.

AR addresses one of the biggest maintenance challenges companies have: reducing the time and cost spent on the maintenance process.

Today, before maintenance is performed on a piece of industrial equipment, significant time must be spent finding information about the equipment, such as electrical schematics that should be attached to the equipment door but have been removed. By offering these schematics in AR, workers no longer waste time hunting down schematics and can, instead, start working on problem solving. This use of AR can potentially reduce maintenance costs by 50%.

Realities Webinar

“Augmented reality can reduce by a lot and potentially completely eliminate the time wasted looking for information.”

Simone Gianotti, US EcoStruxure Industry Business Development Manager, Schneider Electric

Realities Webinar

AR captures institutional knowledge and helps new employees get up to speed.

Industrial workforces are aging and workers are retiring. When workers retire, their knowledge leaves with them. A challenge is capturing this knowledge and transferring it to new hires. Augmented reality provides a solution.

“Augmented reality cannot do much about aging, but can help with the transfer of knowledge.”

– Simone Gianotti, US EcoStruxure Industry Business Development Manager, Schneider Electric

One Schneider Electric customer is solving this problem by providing cameras to its experienced maintenance people.

Every time an experienced person maintains equipment, they record a video. These videos are compiled in a “how to” database. Videos in the database can be accessed as needed. Also, the company has linked alarm conditions to associated videos. When a specific alarm occurs, AR can immediately find the right content for an employee to troubleshoot and solve the problem.

AR solutions can significantly decrease the learning curve, providing new employees with the information they need when they need it.

vr-training

Implementing AR, the Pros and Cons

Today the most common AR implementations involve goggles or tablets/smartphones.

When implementing AR, today’s users are most likely to use a tablet/phone or goggles. The needs of the business and users, as well as costs, will typically drive which AR solutions are put in place.

Pros and Cons of AR Implementation Solutions

Goggle Pros

Hands free allows user to perform tasks with hands while looking at information in real time.

Easier to use for remote assistance. Built-in headphones/microphone allow user to talk with a remote operator; camera allows remote operator to see what user is seeing.

Cons

Safety concerns as some goggles impair lateral vision, and real-time information or videos in direct line of sight can be distracting.

Ergonomics; head movements are often awkward, which can cause discomfort.

Cost can be prohibitive at $3,000 to $5,000.

Tablet Pros

Safety. The device needs to be put down when performing a task, which allows worker to focus on the task at hand.

Cost can be low, especially if refurbished devices are used.

Cons

Not hands free, which means device must be put down to perform an operation.

Remote assistance is more complicated. User needs to hold tablet in the right place to show remote operator what they are seeing.

VR and AR are not passing fads.

VR and AR are still early in their adoption phase for industrial automation, but research indicates that the VR and AR markets will grow significantly over the next five years.

vr-icon

VR

2018
Actual

$ 0 B

2023
Projected

$ 0 B

They are here to stay.

ar-pihone-icon

AR

2018
Actual

$ 0 B

2023
Projected

$ 0 B

In addition to the use of the new realities by end users, there are also significant opportunities for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

OEMs can leverage AR for internal production lines, reaping the same benefits as end users in optimizing machine production, minimizing maintenance costs, and increasing profitability.

Jumping into AR and VR also allows OEMs to differentiate from competition by selling innovative services and technologies. And, providing these new technologies helps increase customer satisfaction.

augmented-reality-tablet

“Both VR and AR are going to become more important in the market. This is the right time to take the first step and become one of the early adopters.”

Simone Gianotti, US EcoStruxure Industry Business Development Manager, Schneider Electric

To learn more about industrial automation and opportunities in AR and VR:

Also, connect with Simone about visiting Schneider Electric’s Lexington Smart Factory in Lexington, Kentucky.

For more information about Schneider Electric variable speed drives:

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