Energy and utilities rank among the top three verticals in terms of Augmented Reality (AR) glasses shipments and total value chain revenues. AR’s ability to enhance workers’ safety and protect equipment addresses the priority on safety emphasized by the energy and utilities industry. ABI Research, a market-foresight advisory firm providing strategic guidance on the most compelling transformative technologies, estimates the energy and utilities sector will account for 17% of global smart glasses shipments in 2018. Total AR market revenues for the energy and utilities industry are expected to grow to US$18 billion by 2022, with platform and licensing, and smart glasses hardware comprising the majority.
“AR enables better visualization of underground assets, pipelines in concrete, or complex components, which help avoid breaks while digging, detect dangerous leaks, and reduce accidents. Accordingly, employee safety will be maintained along with a decline in errors and total downtime,” says Marina Lu, Senior Analyst at ABI Research. “As the industry faces a lack of skilled workers and an aging workforce that will result in knowledge loss, AR will aid field workers by connecting them with remote experts who can provide real-time guidance and highlight where extra caution should be taken. A subsequent benefit is that the information obtained from AR solutions can be stored as a guideline for future work, thus facilitating business decisions and workflow. With AR, employees become more proficient more quickly.”
The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) has studied the importance of AR to the energy industry and has been involved in several vendors’ efforts to investigate and pilot the use of AR in electric and utility operations. EPRI has also collaborated with Duke Energy, deploying Atheer’s AR platform to demonstrate the AR application benefits of improved productivity and safety due to hands-free data access. GE Renewable Energy has improved technician assembly time efficiency by 34% using smart glasses overlaid with digital instructions. Upskill’s Skylight platform enables the technicians to use voice to identify certain items such as wires and find locations, which saves time over reading paper manuals. Also, Siemens partnered with DAQRI and conducted a study to explore how AR-based gas burner assembly can increase training efficiency and reduce errors.
“Safety is a dominant theme for energy and utilities. Durable and dependable AR devices can operate well in potentially hazardous environments such as those with explosive dust or flammable gas,” adds Eric Abbruzzese, Principal Analyst. “These environments also have the strongest need for worker safety improvements that can be provided by AR devices. Real-time environment monitoring, safety notifications, and workflow instruction can ensure safety while improving efficiency – a unique and attractive combination for the industry.”
These findings are from ABI Research’s Augmented Reality in Energy and Utilities report. This report is part of the company’s AR & Mixed Reality research service, which includes research, data, and analyst insights.