One of the market drivers for Augmented Reality (AR) will be the adoption of 5G by organisations. The expectations are that machine builders adopting 5G will lead the move into this growing field of technology.
According to Schneider Electric, they are seeing evidence of early adoption on the part of both machine builders and end-users. Preliminary pilots of new augmented reality tools are blurring the lines between the physical and digital worlds to enhance the user experience. Benefits like reductions in maintenance costs, increased production efficiency and uptime improvements are also beginning to accrue.
They argue that the application of AR to machine maintenance is particularly compelling. When employing traditional approaches, maintenance personnel spend 50% of their time during a maintenance call researching information required to fix the issue. Consequently, they devote only 50% of their time working on the equipment.
An AR approach to machine maintenance addresses this issue. AR tools allow an operator or maintenance technician to access any information related to a machine on the factory floor via a common iOS or Android tablet or smartphone device. They superimpose information captured from numerous real-world sources. All information about the machine, including catalogues, wiring diagrams, manuals, troubleshooting steps and procedures is available to the operator. These resources are also supplemented by video streaming or working on digital twins. Those involved can also add their knowledge so that it is not lost when staff move on.
Augmented Reality offers unique solutions for OEMs
Most machine builders want the flexibility of controlling their software and applications. The new EcoStruxure Augmented Operator Advisor offers them the capability of building augmented reality interfaces into the machines they manufacture. This creates opportunities for them to provide modern maintenance services to their end-users using AR tools.
Machine builders can create their augmented reality projects including “points of interest” within their machines like using photographs. They link these to the tablet part of the application for building an environment that allows context sensitivity.
This picture-based information linked to the machine builder’s service bureau offers a virtual ‘over the shoulder’ service for the on-site engineer. It allows the service centre to guide them through the process as both refer to the same set of images. It helps compensate for local skill levels and results in getting machines up and running faster. Moreover, it avoids the machine builder having to bear the expense of dispatching an expert on-site to perform the fix.
As a result, machine builders can create a unique augmented reality solution for each of their machine types. They can then ship their machines to their customers as “AR ready”. Since the tool is product agnostic, it supports the integration of many sources of information, making AR capabilities suitable for mixed vendor equipment environments.
To find more about how augmented reality tools streamline both machine building and manufacturing line processes go here.