How Augmented Reality Is Transforming Maintenance

How Augmented Reality Is Transforming Maintenance

My fellow geeks define Augmented Reality (AR) as “an enhanced version of reality, where live direct or indirect views of physical real-world environments are augmented with superimposed computer-generated images over a user’s view of the real world.” Translation? AR does just as it says, it augments your reality by adding images (and even videos!) to your field of view. While much of AR is being done through physical screens – think mobile phones, tablets, and a dazzling array of goggles and eyewear – it is also being done with fixed and mobile projectors (for AR maintenance, picture an auto mechanic in a work bay, the projected AR can show her how to remove/install an engine part, tracking her movements in real time).

The fourth industrial revolution (a.k.a., industry 4.0) is in full-swing and industries from education to healthcare to manufacturing are racing to take full advantage of AR’s capabilities to save them time and money and increase their quality, safety, and performance.

Requiring both skills and experience, the craft of maintenance is mission-critical to achieving a manufacturing facility’s performance, productivity, and product quality targets. The focus on improving maintenance is never-ending because even the smallest of maintenance improvements can have a significant impact on a company’s bottom line. Companies love AR maintenance because they often see double-digit improvements.

AR Maintenance

AR enhances the user’s field of view by superimposing real-time, digital information in their line of sight. This allows users to gain any and all needed information on an asset, including accessing the most up-to-date information on how to repair it.

Before going into AR maintenance’s practical applications, here’s a list of its proven benefits:

  •      Decreases human errors
  •      Decreases execution time
  •      Decreases breakdowns
  •      Decreases downtime
  •      Decreases costs
  •      Decreases language issues
  •      Increases productivity
  •      Increases operation speed
  •      Increases fix rates
  •      Increases compliance
  •      Increases profit

These benefits have been realized by companies like GE who have implemented AR maintenance in their different facilities. While the specific results will always vary, GE Aviation achieved an 8-12% increase in efficiency and GE Renewable Energy wiring technicians netted a 34% increase in productivity.

These are just two examples of how deeply AR maintenance is impacting industry. Just as moving physical documentation online represented a generational shift, AR, including wearables, is the next generational shift.

What are some of the AR-powered solutions for maintenance and repair operations? They include:

  •      Preventive maintenance
  •      Operator assembly instructions
  •      Service inspection instructions
  •      Detailed instructions for new/unfamiliar/rarely performed procedures
  •      Compliance checklists (will full recording of who did what when)
  •      Corrective maintenance
  •      Service manual instructions
  •      Remote assistance
  •      Predictive maintenance
  •      Performance panels
  •      Real-time access to data for monitoring, control actions, disruptions, and analytics

Let’s now take a deeper look at how AR maintenance is specifically impacting engineers.


Integrating AR with an EAM CMMS system further increases productivity and safety while simultaneously decreasing costs. Here are some examples:

Infrared thermography uses thermovision to allow engineers and mechanics to see electrical systems, mechanical equipment, building applications, and fluid systems. The equipment lets engineers “see inside” equipment to spot faulty connections, abnormal motors, pipe temperatures, and tank levels without touching the equipment, reducing the risk of injuries.

AR Maintenance

DAQRI developed a wearable AR helmet for industrial use. Engineers can see 4D images above assets in their facilities, prompt them with instructions, and give them as needed mapping of all of the asset’s functionality. This wearable technology allows engineers to discover asset information faster, closes the knowledge gap for new hires, and when combined with UIB’s UnificationEngine®intelligent IoT messaging, provides real-time alerts and notifications as needed to all stakeholders. UpSkill uses wearable AR technology to guide technicians to complete tasks, checklists, work orders, and communicate with managers. And finally, Worklink has made it possible for the user to create their own smart instructions for assets.

As more machines become “smart,” AR maintenance is becoming more common. With analysts predicting 50 billion machines being connected to the internet by 2020, adopting AR maintenance technology will quickly become the standard tool for facility operations.

The CMMS provides maintenance management and staff with the ability to automate inspection scheduling, preventive maintenance, inventory management, work orders, and asset history retrieval.

AR Maintenance

Technicians can use mobile devices to receive instructions, log work order completion, review prior work orders, and manage tasks. Information is recorded in real-time, so managers can instantly access information. Work tracking and documentation complete the AR maintenance solution. CMMS can also use machine learning to monitor assets at scale, tasks that would otherwise be impossible to do, enabling firms to reduce labor costs.

IoT, AR maintenance, machine learning, CMMS, and intelligent IoT messaging work together to help facilities to meet their aggressive energy savings, labor savings, employee safety, and financial goals.


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About the Author

Kelly Potter is a Marketing Associate for Transcendent Corporation. Kelly lives in Tampa and graduated from the University of Central Florida with a B.A. in Communications and a Minor in English-Writing. She’s written hundreds of blog posts on EAM CMMS technology and solutions  In her spare time, she enjoys amusement parks, running half-marathons, and writing and reading.

About the Author:

Ken Herron
UIB Chief Marketing Officer Ken writes about the latest IoT and AI global news, trends, and best practices.