Industry 4.0: how VR/AR reduce human error in manufacturing

Nov 14, 2019
Many industrial companies are either testing or have already adopted VR/AR-based solutions in order to reduce human error and its impact on the production process. Let's have a look at some use cases where VR/AR implementations managed to improve staff training and therefore mitigate the risk of downtime and accidents.
Industry 4.0 means massive deployment of digital technologies in the manufacturing sector to streamline business processes, boost employee competence and equipment skills, and thus bring down the number of human mistakes.

Have you heard about Vision Zero? It is a campaign developed by the International Social Security Association (ISSA) to improve safety, health and wellbeing at work, providing the seven golden rules:

1. Take leadership – demonstrate commitment
2. Identify hazards – control risks
3. Define targets – develop programs
4. Ensure a safe and healthy system – be well-organized
5. Ensure safety and health in machines, equipment and workplaces
6. Improve qualifications – develop competence
7. Invest in people – motivate by participation
Some enterprises go an extra mile and integrate VR/AR into their IT landscape. Let's take Mosoblgaz case study. A total of 8,000 employees use a distance learning platform to schedule courses for themselves and their subordinates, while also monitoring training progress and material perception. A 3D simulator of a gas-distributing substation is integrated into the corporate distance learning system, so that employees of remote branches can take courses using just a desktop or mobile device. Such solutions help cut business trip costs related to corporate trainings and minimize the risk of occupational injuries and equipment downtime.
"Leveraging distance learning capabilities, Mosoblgaz technical specialists can download any lecture or maintenance manual and learn dos and don'ts in a 3D simulation. New communication channels keep each employee updated, while managers enjoy a new feedback tool," said Olga Chizhikova, Chief Learning Officer, Mosoblgaz
Moreover, immersive technologies can benefit not only staff training, but also on-site work.

AR is perfectly fit for field engineers who can use glasses or display, being much lighter than a VR headset and thus more convenient.

Workers look at real objects through AR glasses or display and see extra text, symbols, statistics or images, like sequence of actions during equipment inspection, the temperature of molten raw materials, or parts for replacement or repair.

Yet another popular AR case is remote support for facility workers, with our team therefore developing a prototype of Remote Assistant. This solution allows for real-time consultations and supervision over manufacturing equipment maintenance or repair, which is particularly important when there is no way of sending multiple specialists to a site. An expert at another end can provide AR hints and help on-site workers fix the mechanism.

Furthermore, manufacturing companies leverage AR to create digital services for their clients, like arrange a VR/AR factory tour for customers and potential investors and demonstrate how the equipment works.
The above VR/AR solutions are particularly coveted by industrial enterprises where human error is rather common, as well as the risk of occupational injury. Therefore, these implementations are very likely to show strong growth in the manufacturing sector in the next years.

However, by far not every large manufacturer has time and resources to do in-depth interviews with functional department managers – a must to prepare a product requirements specification. Digital transformation or innovation teams are usually multi-skilled, do not focus on virtual reality only, and usually spend more than a year to grasp the potential of immersive technologies. This is why it really pays to engage a team of professionals who will definitely succeed in identifying the company's needs and matching them with the best VR/AR solution.

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