Fabrice Cadiou - Head of Customer Success
Reception, maintenance, repairs… The key stages in the life of a machine often require the presence of experts or technicians on site. Thanks to IoT data and the new possibilities offered by assisted reality technology, this kind of interventions is becoming less and less essential. Experts from after-sales services or technical departments can now solve many problems and share their know-how remotely. This is an extremely valuable time-saver.
Production lines in modern factories are made up of increasingly complex automated machines. While the benefits of these modern installations are numerous for the industry, their implementation and monitoring present operators with new challenges. Their operation and maintenance require highly specialized skills that are often difficult to develop and maintain at each operating site. This problem becomes even more crucial when the equipment has a problem or even breaks down. The consequences of its unavailability can quickly impact the entire production. The incident must be resolved quickly, but the necessary expertise is generally not within the plant, whether it comes from the technical department or the after-sales service of the equipment manufacturer. As soon as a specialist has to travel to the site, the period of unavailability can be considerably longer and interruption costs much higher, especially with the current health constraints.
To speed up the process, an effective solution is to connect with someone with experience transmitting indications remotely to an operator or technician on site to perform a service, maintenance or repair task. The software solution developed by InUse was initially designed to accelerate the resolution of remote incidents by combining the analysis of machine data with several collaborative features: discussions, incident reports, dematerialized procedures, etc. By partnering with AMA, one of the leaders in the field of assisted reality with its XpertEye solution, InUse now offers the possibility of taking real-time assistance a step further, by including additionally video feeds of all types.
Accessing real time data is a way for remote experts to get some first insights
Thanks to connected machines and this kind of new technology, machine builders and their customers can collaborate more efficiently towards incident resolution. As soon as a problem is reported, experts have access to all the data required that allows them to assess the situation and make an accurate diagnosis remotely. Without having to travel, they have a complete view of the equipment: its usage, the evolution of the parameters that led to the problem. In addition, depending on the type of alerts it raises, the application is also able to suggest interventions directly to the user.
In the case of a complex problem, the data reported by the equipment is not always enough to establish a remote diagnosis. To go further, assisted reality tools provide the remote expert with a high quality video stream through which he can literally observe the machine. The on-site technician in charge of the machine is connected to the right expert via the application. He can share his inputs and provide him with a visualization of the equipment to be repaired through different devices : mobile, smartphone, tablet or even connected smart glasses like Microsoft Hololens for example. Depending on the expert’s needs, he can also connect a device providing more technical images using, for example, a thermal camera or an endoscope.
Once the video feed is live, the specialist with its computer can see through the eyes of the technician on site, so to speak. He can guide the technician step by step in solving the problem. The expert can also share technical documentation or his own video stream with the technician. In this bidirectional logic, solutions using assisted reality technology such as AMA’s offer collaborative features that facilitate these interactions, such as a virtual pointer on the video stream or the possibility of annotating screen shots. Once the intervention is over, all these elements are kept within the InUse software and enrich the information on the machine’s history available to future experts and maintenance operators.
When combining IoT and assisted reality, remote incident resolution is the use that comes to mind first. It is quite simple to set up and offers direct benefits in terms of efficiency. The level of development of the technologies already allows us to consider other uses.
The delivery of a machine to a factory is subject to a Factory Acceptance Test, during which the equipment manufacturer tests the machine with its customers in real conditions. The objective is to verify that all parameters correspond to what was specified. The complexity of these machines generally implies that a large team is present, crossing different expertises, in order to control the good performance of the tests and their results. Some of the technical management specialists, external to the site, can now participate remotely. Here again, the two solutions are complementary: the images transmitted by the teams on site are associated live with IoT data, enabling the remote experts to have a very detailed assessment of the performance experienced during the test.
Just like the after-sales service that remotely performs corrective operations, technical departments will also be able to assist plant workers without having to travel for preventive maintenance operations or to perform a maintenance task on machines, such as the replacement of spare parts. Within the application, these interventions are recorded in the form of videos or shared images and enrich the history, the “health book” of the machine. These archives are also very valuable in the case of standardized operating methods. Thanks to these very concrete illustrations, the operators will have the ability to carry out the next intervention on their own.
These applications can also be used for training and experience sharing. For example, if a technician needs to familiarize himself with a new complex machine or new methods, the first operations can be performed by following the remote instructions of the specialist, whose role will gradually evolve into that of a simple observer validating working skills improvements.
When used together, industrial IoT and assisted reality improve the operational efficiency of field teams in many use cases. Their complementarity allows them to overcome their limits and increase their respective benefits tenfold. As they are used together, new use cases will emerge and continue to make the overall management of industrial machines more fluid. By combining these two technologies in a single tool, InUse and AMA are accompanying manufacturing companies in exploring these new possibilities.