As industry adopts smarter machines, the role of the operator will also change supported through smart visualisation tools. Change will also come through improved training as well as the smart technology itself playing a significant part in enhancing operator skills. These smart visualisation information systems will deliver tailored information direct from the machine controller to the operator. They will reduce decision-making time – even for unfamiliar tasks, improve operator flexibility, reduce downtimes and improve productivity.
Smart visualisation supporting augmented reality
Working in collaboration, Fraunhofer IPT and Mitsubishi Electric have developed a new system that gathers all the information of relevance to the machine. After processing, the shop floor operator receives the information via smart visualisation or a tablet computer. The information is then processed and presented through smart glasses or tablet to support the operator on the shop floor. Applications for smart glasses range from training, monitoring and eliminating machine malfunctions through to predictive maintenance. The technology works with commercially available smart glasses and tablets using android operating system and integrates these in manufacturing environment.
Typical examples of human and machine connected production systems show how machine builders can enable end-users to gain major business benefits. Increased connectivity and smart visualisation will help deliver improvements in production optimisation, monitoring, remote services and predictive maintenance.
Direct communication to the operator
The smart devices and the Mitsubishi Electric machine control unit communicate directly with one another in the new system. Thus, staff can see in real-time when tasks finish, disturbances occur, when a machine door is open, or that maintenance work is due. The system informs the machine operator direct via pop-up on the terminal and offers help. If needed, the presentation of information can be step by step in various formats such as video or text. Users can solve problems themselves, without having to stop one activity to locate and look up manuals. Moreover, the system can also check individual machine tool components in real time. The smart devices flash up-dated information using 3D models of the machine environment straight to the operator´s field of vision.
Operators can view up-to-date machine and production information, such as progress, remaining time, machine status or overall equipment effectiveness (OEE). Raw data is processed, visualised and updated within the smart device, and should unexpected production interruptions or errors occur, the operator can be provided with pop-up information to rectify the problem.
Mobile devices will help employees to learn new skills and compensate for a lack of skilled workers. New and untrained employees will be able to learn and work alone from their very first day at work. The glasses also empower experienced personnel by helping them to operate complex machinery more readily.
Mitsubishi Electric is guiding users on augmented technologies with a focus on connected production systems, intelligent control systems, Edge, solutions and smart services. Key factory automation technologies include CNC and PLCs applications aligned for the challenges of today’s machinery markets.