How Augmented Reality Helps Simplify Equipment Maintenance

Effective Equipment Maintenance: A Business Imperative

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four hours sharpening the axe.”

– Abraham Lincoln

While it’s true that nothing can replace regular preventive maintenance, several businesses fail to keep it on their priority list. Everyone knows that equipment maintenance isn’t a piece of cake as it involves managing costs, labor, expertise, inventory, testing, and a myriad of activities. At the same time, effective equipment maintenance is a business imperative that you can’t just overlook.
That said, how can you streamline your company’s equipment maintenance process without missing a beat?
Enter Augmented Reality, the most innovative and impactful technology that can ensure the longevity of your machinery, optimize your equipment maintenance budget, reduce manual effort, and mitigate any loss occurring due to negligence or delayed attention.
If you consider equipment maintenance a more viable and convenient strategy than investing in new fixed assets, it’s important to understand the role of Augmented Reality in simplifying equipment maintenance.

What is Augmented Reality and How Does It Support Equipment Maintenance?

Augmented reality (AR) is an interactive experience technology that overlays digital information (augmented components) and graphics on top of the real-world environment to enhance our perception of the physical objects around us.
AR has many potential applications in various fields, including equipment maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO). For example, an AR app can display the 3D model of a machine along with its components and relevant instructions on how to repair or service it. A technician can interact with the data superimposed on an equipment’s surface to repair it safely or even remotely without taking much time.
With AR-based applications, your maintenance personnel or service engineers can:

Benefits of Using Augmented Reality in Equipment Maintenance

Augmented Reality brings a fundamental shift to the traditional approaches followed in operator training and maintenance of industrial equipment and assets. Introducing Augmented Reality in Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul functions offers numerous benefits to your business:
1. Augmented Visualization
AR-powered headsets, mobile-devices, or wearables can overlay digital information such as 3D models of complex equipment, along with detailed virtual maps, diagrams, and instructions onto the real-world environment. For instance, when a technician is inspecting an industrial asset, the enhanced visualization superimposed by AR on the technician’s field of vision allows them to understand the equipment complexity, identify components, and locate issues quickly and accurately.
2. Real-Time Guidance To Maintenance Crew
AR can provide real-time guidance and step-by-step instructions to your on-site equipment maintenance personnel, so they don’t have to attend extensive and monotonous training or refer to complex instruction guides or user manuals. Technicians can follow the visual cues and annotations overlaid on the equipment parts in real-time to ensure precise execution of maintenance procedures and minimize errors.
3. Remote Support & Collaboration
AR enables your subject matter experts and senior employees to provide remote guidance and support to on-site technicians engaged in maintenance jobs. Through AR-enabled smart glasses or mobile devices, technicians can live-stream their view to the remote SMEs who can provide real-time instructions or annotate/ draw directly on the technician’s field of view. This capability enhances field team and back-office collaboration, reduces travel costs, and speeds up problem resolution.
4. On-Demand Information Access
AR provides your maintenance personnel with on-demand access to relevant information including equipment specifications, maintenance history, troubleshooting tips and guides, and virtual service manuals. Technicians can access this information hands-free, directly within their field of view using AR headsets, smart glasses or other wearables, and complete the maintenance or repair job with improved efficiency and minimal downtime.
5. Training & Skills Development
With AR-based training, existing maintenance crew can upskill themselves, while new technicians can learn more about complex equipment and maintenance procedures in a more interesting way. By overlaying interactive virtual instructions and simulations onto physical equipment, AR provides a safe and immersive learning experience to maintenance technicians. Trainees can practice complex maintenance tasks, identify faults, and learn correct procedures – all in a safe virtual environment, before working on actual equipment.
6. Predictive Maintenance & Data Analytics
AR-integrated equipment maintenance systems can gather data from device sensors and connected Internet of Things (IoT) devices to perform real-time equipment monitoring and predictive maintenance analysis. By visualizing the health and performance of equipment in real-time, technicians can proactively identify potential failures, monitor performance metrics, and schedule maintenance tasks based on actual equipment conditions. This helps in optimizing maintenance schedules and maximizing uptime.
7. Documentation & Record-Keeping
Accurate and up-to-date documentation of equipment maintenance activities is important for planning and scheduling future maintenance jobs. In case of recurring maintenance activities, these references come handy. Using AR, maintenance personnel can capture images, videos, and annotations during the repair process, which can be automatically logged and stored for future reference. This digital record-keeping improves knowledge retention, enables better analysis of historical maintenance data, and helps address compliance requirements.

Benefits of AR in Equipment Maintenance: A Snapshot

Reduces mean time to repair
Faster problem diagnosis
Improves equipment availability
Minimizes unplanned downtime
Consistent servicing performance
Fewer errors in installation or servicing
Saves time and travel expenses

Top AR Use Cases in Equipment Maintenance

AR software solutions and applications have a broad scope of use in equipment maintenance, repair, and overhaul functions. Here are some of the top AR use cases in equipment maintenance.
AR can overlay visual instructions and annotations onto the equipment, guiding technicians through the repair process step by step. The AR system can highlight the parts to be inspected or repaired, display 3D models of how components fit together, and provide textual or audio instructions. This helps technicians perform repairs accurately and efficiently.
Instead of relying on traditional paper manuals or exhaustive digital documents, AR helps create interactive virtual user manuals that provide technicians with relevant data required to fix a specific equipment fault. Using AR-enabled devices like smart glasses or customized AR mobile apps, technicians can view step-by-step instructions overlaid on the equipment or receive real-time guidance, highlighting the parts to be inspected or repaired, along with relevant information.
AR helps create detailed virtual representations of equipment or machinery, allowing technicians to interact with them virtually before performing any actual maintenance task. Equipment simulations allow technicians to familiarize themselves with complex machinery, understand the functioning specifications, anomalies, and parts of the equipment, and practice troubleshooting procedures before attempting the steps on a real machine.
Digital twins (virtual mockups) of machines are created by equipment manufacturers to test the performance and drawbacks of their products before market launch. By integrating AR with the virtual replica (digital twin) of a physical equipment, technicians can compare in real-time the capabilities, data, output, and performance of the physical equipment through its virtual counterpart. This helps identify discrepancies, detect anomalies, and simulate “what if” scenarios for improving the equipment production line as well as planning predictive maintenance.
Equipment manufacturers as well as users often find it difficult to properly identify faulty equipment parts and order replacements. AR-enabled devices help scan the equipment, recognize the parts that need to be replaced, and provide maintenance technicians with relevant information such as part numbers, specifications, and inventory availability to simplify their jobs. Technicians can then place orders directly from the AR interface and track their orders end-to-end, which will streamline the whole procurement process.
The integration of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Augmented Reality (AR), and Big Data can revolutionize equipment maintenance practices. By leveraging IIoT, equipment is equipped with sensors and connected to a network, allowing real-time data collection and analysis. AR overlays digital information onto the physical equipment, providing maintenance technicians with intuitive visualizations and step-by-step instructions for efficient troubleshooting and repairs. Big Data analytics processes the vast amount of collected data, uncovering patterns and predictive insights to optimize preventive maintenance schedules and identify potential failures. This integrated approach enhances operational efficiency, reduces downtime, extends equipment lifespan, and improves overall maintenance effectiveness. The use of IIoT, AR, and Big Data in equipment maintenance brings significant cost savings, improved productivity, and a proactive approach to equipment care.
Real-Life Examples of Using AR in Equipment Maintenance
Success Stories of Augmented Reality in Equipment Maintenance

Example 1: Bosch

Bosch Automotive leverages Augmented Reality to accelerate motor-vehicle repairs and support technical training of workshop employees.

  • Smarter and faster fault diagnosis and repair instructions with all the information displayed where needed
  • 15% time saved by technicians per step taken when performing repair tasks
  • Location of hidden components, instructions, or required special tools are integrated into the real image
  • Clarifies the next steps to be taken in order to avoid unnecessary disassembly and assembly work

Example 2: DHL

DHL Supply Chain employs AR-based “Vision Picking” smart glasses in their warehouses to speed up the picking process and reduce errors.

  • 25% efficiency increase during the picking process
  • Hands-free order picking at a faster pace with reduced error rates
  • Pickers equipped with smart glasses that visually display where each picked item needs to be placed on the trolley
  • Workers can provide more complex value-added services to customers and accelerate new employee onboarding time

Example 3: Boeing

Boeing, the premier manufacturer of commercial jetliners, leverages Augmented Reality to advance fighter pilot training.

  • Boeing’s next-generation fighter jets T-7 and F-15EX offer pilots a safe augmented reality training environment
  • Pilots and ground operators can see synthetic threats in real-time, outdoors, and critically, in high-speed environments
  • Real-time 3D visualizations to increase the efficiency of mission planning, briefing, and debriefing
  • Tactical training scenarios delivered through AR reduce the cost of and need for multiple platforms and real world training exercises

Industries That Use AR for Equipment Maintenance

1. Automotive Maintenance
2. Aircraft Assembly & Maintenance
3. Energy & Utilities Maintenance
4. Manufacturing Equipment Maintenance
5. Medical Equipment Servicing & Maintenance

The Architecture of an Augmented Reality Solution

The architecture of augmented reality services typically involves the essential components that work together to deliver an immersive and interactive AR experience. Here is an overview of the critical components of an AR solution architecture:
The user interface component presents the AR content to the user. This can be achieved through various devices such as AR-enabled intelligent glasses, smartphones, tablets, wearables, or headsets. The UI component displays the augmented view, overlays digital content onto the real-world environment, and provides interactive elements for user input.
Using video tracking and mapping components, AR helps track and map objects correctly in the real-world environment. For instance, AR uses sensors, cameras, and computer vision algorithms to track the position and orientation of the physical object or device in order to create its exact virtual replica in real-time. Video tracking in AR maps the physical environment by identifying surfaces, objects, or markers as reference points for anchoring the virtual content.
The content rendering component of AR generates the virtual content to be overlaid on top of a physical object or device in real-time. Content rendering includes 3D models, animations, text, images, or videos that are rendered and aligned with real-world objects or locations. This component relies on the tracking and mapping information to ensure proper alignment, accuracy, and approach of the virtual content.
The content management component handles the organization, storage, and retrieval of AR content. It includes a database or content management system that stores and manages the 3D models, textures, animations, and other digital assets used in the AR experience. This component ensures efficient content delivery and enables dynamic updates or customization of the AR content.
AR solutions often integrate with various sensors to enhance the user experience by capturing real-time data, location, and positioning of physical devices. These sensors can include cameras, depth sensors, accelerometers, gyroscopes, or GPS receivers. Sensor integration allows the AR system to gather real-time data about the user’s surroundings, movements, or interactions, enabling more accurate tracking, object recognition, or environmental understanding.
For collaborative assistance or remote AR experiences, networking and communication components such as Wi-Fi, 5G, Bluetooth, and low latency internet connectivity are required to facilitate seamless data exchange between multiple AR devices or between AR devices and remote servers. This enables real-time collaboration and remote assistance for equipment maintenance tasks through effective sharing of AR content.
The analytics and performance monitoring component collects data about AR system usage, performance, and user interactions. It helps monitor the AR experience, gather usage statistics, and identify areas for improvement. This component may involve logging user interactions, tracking performance metrics, or capturing user feedback that go a long way in supporting equipment servicing and maintenance.
To leverage additional functionality or data, AR software needs to be integrated with the backend services of a business. This can include integration with enterprise systems, maintenance databases, IoT platforms, or cloud services. Backend integration of AR technology with business management platforms will enable real-time data synchronization, provide access to relevant information, and help augment existing workflows and processes.
All these components are required to create a seamless, immersive, and interactive AR experience by merging the real-world environment with the virtual world. The architecture may vary depending on the specific AR solution, platform, or hardware used, but these key components form the foundation of most AR systems.

Technology Elements Required for AR Software

AR Technology Over Years
Types of AR Applications/ Devices Commonly Used Today
Technology Stack for AR Software Development
Technology Components of AR

Challenges in Implementing Augmented Reality

Potential limitations of using AR for equipment maintenance
Overcoming the challenges of using AR for equipment maintenance

How Fingent Helps with Custom-Built AR Solutions

Fingent helps small and medium businesses as well large enterprises to accelerate their maintenance and repair activities through industry-specific, customized augmented reality technology solutions such as mobile AR apps and web AR software.
According to Research and Markets, the global AR market for Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul is estimated to reach USD 3,319.0 million by 2024. The market growth, accelerated by industrial and commercial channels, especially aerospace, automobile, and manufacturing segments motivate our experts to ideate and develop customized, industry-specific augmented reality software solutions and digital infrastructure for our clients.
Fingent is a top custom software development company that offers Augmented Reality consulting, development, implementation, continuous support and evolution of AR software, and a host of services tailored to your business needs. Contact our team to understand how AR adoption helps ensure continued productivity and profitability for your business.