Augmented Reality in the Context of Automotive Manufacturing

Augmented Reality in the Context of Automotive Manufacturing

Gisela Pires Garcia (Volkswagen Autoeuropa, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2874-7.ch006
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The 4th industrial revolution based on the digitization of industrial processes, on the connection of the equipment between them, and on new interfaces with the humans, will require new work contexts and new organizations (Cyber-Physical System and Internet of Things). Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) will contribute in a large scale for the automotive industry transition to the Industry 4.0 paradigm. This chapter provides an overview of these versatile technologies in the context of industrial production, where these technologies will allow the real world of the shop floor to merge with a digital world of simulations, predictions, and automation.
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The growing need of customers for customized products, with ever shorter market time, is driving significant changes in the industry, especially in the automotive industry. In the past, there was a transformation in production, which went from being handcrafted to being mass produced, focusing on increasing the volume and efficiency of productive capacity, leaving behind the fluctuations relative to consumer needs. This is an increasingly outdated vision.

Consumers today are not satisfied just with mass-produced products and are also looking for the ones that are best suited to themselves.

Thus, the end customer begins to express their interest and needs as early as the creation and production stage of the product they wish to purchase.

The need for individualization can lead to extreme cases of highly customized products called “batch size one”, and the industry will have to be able to manufacture them with the economic profitability of mass production. It will be necessary to evolve to new production process concepts, with systems that are more flexible, agile and able to handle the great variability of products and with reactivity in real time.

Along with the change of consumer behavior, physical products are also going through a transformation. Sensors and connectivity turn sealed and non-evolutionary products into smarter products, turning them into software platforms which evolve over time and according to the client's wishes.

In addition, the product lifecycle and innovation cycle is continually shrinking, causing transformations in the organizational structures of companies so that they can manage with increasing complexity.

In Europe, Industry 4.0 is being seen as a potential response to these new challenges. This concept is based on the digitization of industrial processes, the connection between equipment and new interfaces with human beings. Industry 4.0 concept describes the vision of tomorrows manufacturing: A Smart and networked manufacturing world throughout the creation of smart product, smart procedures and smart process.

This new stage in the industrial history of the world is not a complete change of the manufacturing paradigm but merely an evolution, seeking to leverage the existing technology and market potential to improve processes, productivity and efficiency. (Heng, 2014)

The core idea of this new concept is to use the current technologies, especially the emerging Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), to implement the Internet-of-Things (IoT) and Services (IoS) and create a basis for integration and communication allowing production to become extremely flexible and efficient with high quality at low cost (Wang, Wan, Li, & Zhang, 2016).The widespread adoption by manufacturing and traditional operations of ICT is leading to the convergence of the physical world with the virtual world through the development of Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) (Kagermann, Wahlster, & Helbig, 2013)

The implementation of these systems leads the development of factories to intelligent environments, with agile and flexible capabilities to respond to disruptions and failures (Weyer, Schmitt, Ohmer, & Gorecky, 2015). Factories are going to evolve to such intelligent and conscious systems that are able to control production processes, to predict failure and maintain machines, and to manage the factory system. In addition, many manufacturing processes, such as product design, production planning and engineering are simulated as modular and connected end-to-end being controlled independently (Qin, Liu, & Grosvenor, 2016)

Additionally, these transformations will lead to an organizational change of companies and, consequently, significant changes in work in industrial environments, with less undifferentiated manual tasks and more man-robot interaction, more IT skills and data analysis. One change that is believed to be very significant is the continuous development of skills throughout the working life of company employees.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Industry 4.0: Starting in Germany, Industry 4.0 is a term that represents the 4th industrial revolution that promises to completely alter today’s production paradigm. The introduction of the Internet of Things and Services, along with the development of Cyber-Physical systems (CPS), into the manufacturing environment is ushering to this change on the industrial paradigm. Particular attention is paid to emerging information and communication technologies (ICT), which will lead to the convergence of the physical world with the virtual world. Implementing these systems leads to the development of intelligent production environments that will respond in real time to process interruptions and failures. Many other processes, such as product design, production planning and engineering, will be virtually simulated as standalone modules and then connected to the current production requirements. It can thus be stated that Industry 4.0 facilitates the vision and execution of “Intelligent Factories”.

It can thus be stated that Industry 4.0 facilitates the vision and execution of “Intelligent Factories” where the elements of the production system will be connected: generating and communicating a huge amount of data that will be further analyzed and used to support decision making during the operation of the factory process and management. In turn, the products will be incorporated with sensors and processors that contain information about their current state and the next expected state, guiding themselves through the production process.

Process Optimization: Process optimization is the set of actions an organization takes to increase the performance of its business processes. That is, process optimization aims to identify opportunities for improvement, find ways to streamline processes and seek better results. Nowadays, it is inevitable to talk about process optimization in the industry without entering the technology field. Technology makes it possible to do better and in less time, which is precisely the focus of industrial process optimization.

Augmented Reality: Augmented Reality (AR) is considered a variation from the traditional Virtual Reality (VR). VR technologies totally immerse the user inside a synthetic environment without the possibility of see the real-world around him. In the other hand, AR technologies allow the user to see the real-world, but now with virtual objects super-imposed upon it. Augmented Reality devices use the position of the user’s point of view with position and orientation coordinates, and then project the information required in some way, e.g. in the lenses of the AR Glasses or in the screen of a mobile device with the real-world in background.

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