The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the manufacturing sector during 2020 has been nothing short of colossal. For an industry heavily reliant on physical showrooms, trade conferences and in-person client relationships, the impact of travel bans, upturned supply chains, lower budgets and the rise of virtual events is immense.
Looking beyond COVID, pressure is on the manufacturing sector to lead Australia’s economic recovery. The Federal Government’s recent $1.5 billion incentive scheme signalled support for more Australian grown innovations and the need to increase our self-sufficiency as well as our export potential.
But with the future still hugely uncertain, companies must search for new ways to engage their customers and enhance the product experience to gain their confidence – no matter the situation in the years to come.
Augmented Reality (AR) and virtual (3D) showroom applications that allow companies to virtually transport an entire product range into the customer’s hands, will be increasingly important solutions in navigating a way forward. In a recent study during the pandemic, 56% of enterprises had implemented some form of mobile AR/VR technology. Another 35% were considering doing so, while one quarter intended to scale up their AR/VR investment as COVID increasingly changes the business landscape.
These technologies present an opportunity for local manufacturers to thrive in the current circumstances, while safeguarding their future operations by transforming how they sell, support and grow their product ranges.
3D & Web-based Augmented Reality the ideal event partner
Even under ‘normal’ circumstances, carrying all products to an event is not an option. An automobile spare parts company, for example, cannot display every product due to the complexities in product size, range and configurations, not to mention the transport costs involved.
Through Augmented Reality, trade events and conferences - virtual or not – become far more engaging and interactive. Using Plattar’s capablties, customers can now visualise products virtually in any space to the correct size and scale; they can modify, reconfigure and interact with hotspots to bring key features and benefits to life in 3D via animation. The user has literally the entire product range in their pocket, providing an impactful complement to other collateral including video, PDFs and photography. For customers experiencing ‘Zoom fatigue’ throughout the pandemic, live product demos using AR at virtual events are a great way to win their attention over competitors.
AR in the conference room
With boardroom meetings also moving online for the foreseeable future, AR is ideal for bringing sales presentations and product education to life.
With the help of 3D and AR, meeting attendees will see a 3D model of the product/s hovering over the boardroom table. The presenter can move the product, zoom in and out, and visually demonstrate all specifications and features.
SAAB recently implemented Augmented Reality developed by Plattar to showcase large scale equipment in boardrooms and highlight the key features and capabilities in an interactive experience. The customer experience is as good as touching and feeling the product in person.
Furthermore, Augmented Reality offers the ability to visualise a product in-situ, giving customers a real-life view of it in context that is true to size, scale and fit.
Plattar has worked with top home appliance brands including Samsung and DeLonghi to virtually showcase their products in the home. A customer can use AR to see a fridge or coffee machine placed precisely where it needs to go. They simply point the phone or iPad to the designated space and drag the appliance into location to understand the look and feel of the product, without physically installing it. Customers can then make an informed decision about the product’s USPs and have an accurate visual of what it will look like in their home or workplace.
Because AR in-situ goes beyond physical reality, it enables customers to change configurations with the tap of a button. For a truck manufacturer, this might include adding a tool box or storage space to the vehicle, or changing the wheels or the colour, without having to produce samples and prototypes. It is a great way for manufacturers to extend their product ranges according to customer demand, with little cost investment.
COVID-19 has changed the world, and while some things may eventually return to normal, the impact on manufacturing will be irreversible. For companies focused on unlocking efficiencies and future growth in the ‘new normal’, Augmented Reality and 3D technologies offer cost-effective, immersive ways to engage new and existing audiences and gain a competitive edge, no matter what happens in the world.