Augmented Reality in Manufacturing Industry

Augmented reality in the manufacturing industry is a small part of the fourth industrial revolution also known as industry 4.0. The other three industrial revolution was the mechanization of production using water and steam power, mass production with the help of electric power and digital revolution with the help of electronics and IT. The term “Industry 4.0” was created 2011 from the German government to promote the computerization of manufacturing. Outside the german speaking countries it is known under “Digitization” and related with the IT-hype “Internet of Things”[1] and “Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS)”[2].

What is needed for AR in manufacturing industries?
Augmented reality in manufacturing industries will show real time data of machines, workplaces, equipment and providing a Human Machine Interface (HMI). A connected shop floor is a basic requirement for any further digitisation solutions. There is no standard interface to collect data from shop floor this service is provided by companies who sell SCADA, MES and automation software.

The picture shows the first five levels of a connected shop floor. Every level exchanges data with the surrounding levels in both directions.

  • The first and second level are at the physical shop floor.
  • SCADA-Network is the third level and stays for Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition. It is an Industrial control system (ICS) that monitor and control industrial processes that exist in the physical world. It is a system for remote monitoring and control that operates with signals over communication channels to PLC, PC and PID. The control system may be combined with a data acquisition system that acquires information about the status of the remote equipment.[3] (1) =
  • MES is the fourth level and stays for Manufacturing Execution Systems. MES are computerized systems used in manufacturing, to track and document the transformation of raw materials to finished goods. MES work in real time together with data from SCADA-Systems to measure and control activities in the production areas to increase productivity and improve process quality. It provides information that helps manufacturing decision makers understand how current conditions on the plant floor can be optimized to improve production output. [4]

Who are the target customers?
Users can incorporate this new technology into several different types of existing products and solutions. Easiest to implement and use of augmented reality application are by companies having experience with SCADA and MES systems. They can use the existing connectivity to equipment, devices, machines, actuators and sensors. This benefits can be used by a variety of industries, including manufacturing, water and wastewater, and oil and gas.[5]

Production data can be displayed augmented by tablet or smart glasses. An interaction between the operator and the equipment will also be possible. An implementation effort is needed to visualize 3D instruction for maintenance or showing steps to correct a machine fault. Users of the application can be production manager, operators and maintenance team.

What is offered to the customer?
Recognizing the potential for mobile displays to be used anywhere, a wide range of technology in mobile devices used. For object identification it uses barcodes and QR codes, to environmental awareness near-field communication (NFC) and global positioning system (GPS) can be used. New 3D technology allows users to place models in their geographical context. This combination of easily adjustable services, available from a central location, provides users with a nearly unlimited range of tools for interacting with their environment. Tablets will become a cost-effective way to replace aging mounted displays. Managers can monitor on their existing smartphones, further driving efficiency without any upgrade to infrastructure. [5]
The picture shows an overview of wearable devices which can be used for augmented reality use cases.[5]
Wearable Devices1

Based on the position of the user data from a device or a machine are loaded automatically. Once the operators position is located in a workstation, an overlap real images from the camera and the associated current and historical information about the device will be shown in real time. By scanning a barcode, QR-code or read of alphanumeric characters (OCR), the integrated Augmented Reality technology automatically loads all the relevant data and widgets. For example, fuel consumption of engines or read the actual motor current. With NFC data can be displayed even components are not directly accessible. For example, by a fan which is installed in the ventilation shaft. [6]
Other examples:

Use of GPS to load relevant information based on a detected location.

Iconics example in manufacturing
A manufacturing company might use NFC to identify specific pieces of machinery, or a supplier might use barcodes to identify anomalous batches in an SPC system.

Ergosign together with Inosoft: Display of operating aids at the right place. An animated 3D hand presenting in the camera image the necessary steps, this understands the operator better than an instruction sheet.

How is value achieved?
To achieve value suppliers can use their existing business model. The new augmented reality feature can be sold the same as they sell the feature for mobile devices. The value will be created in sell more license and based on that the yearly license cost of customer will be more expensive. This generates more gross margin. Together with the new feature the customer needs assistance with product launch. This services and training cost can be delivered and invoiced separately.

How to create value?
The Supplier of HMI-, MES- and SCADA-systems are the first players with an application of augmented reality for the manufacturing industry. They core business is to collect and show real-time data and control equipment over a screen. Suppliers build a new application for a wearable device that shows information as augmented reality in a production area. [5] Iconics, Inosoft, Progea are suppliers who can expand its software for mobile devices by a new feature augmented reality.

  • Iconics: HMI/SCADA/MES supplier
    The HMI/SCADA System of ICONICS will be extended by smart factory function in 2016. Augmented reality will be implemented on mobile HMI. Localisation over GPS, NFC or QR code makes it possible to identify the position and overlay the real picture with appropriate data.[7] Neuheiten in HMI/SCADA, Analytics und Augmented Reality.(24.11.2105). Pressemitteilung von: ICONICS Germany GmbH
  • Inosoft GmbH – HMI/SCADA supplier
    Inosoft presented at the SPS IPC Drives 2014 an augmented reality application for maintenance and monitoring measurements of a 3D printer. [8]
  • Progea – HMI/SCADA supplier
    Progea presented at the SPS/IPC/DRIVES 2014 their showcase how the interaction between human and machine could look in the future. With google glass additional visual information about production lines will be shown to the operator. He gets in real time informed about the status of the system and receives the necessary information to states from production data on alarms to maintenance information or data sheets. The operator can interact by touchpad to perform actions. [9]


[5] Iconics White Paper. (2016). Augmented Reality and Wearable Devices, January 2016
[6] Iconics. (2015). Augmented Reality vor Ort. SPS IPC Drives 2015
[7] Neuheiten in HMI/SCADA, Analytics und Augmented Reality.(24.11.2105). Pressemitteilung von: ICONICS Germany GmbH
[8] Ergosign Augmented Reality. (2015)
[9] Progea. Augmented Reality per Google Glass. (2014)

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