Optimized processes for machinery and equipment: How the industry uses Visual Assistance

Customer Success | min. reading time

April 19, 2022

Daniel Mirbach Blog oculavis
oculavis 5G research innovation project 5G Furios
As a successful provider of visual assistance and augmented reality solutions, we can state one thing with certainty: The successful implementation of new technologies and virtual collaboration forms in mechanical and plant engineering depend on a variety of factors. On the one hand, there are organizational challenges to overcome. These include, for example, setting up a cross-departmental project team that includes all important stakeholders such as the works council, IT security experts, data protection officers, health and safety representatives, as well as creating training opportunities to anchor the success of the project in the organization. On the other hand, there are technical issues that include data storage (cloud or on-premises) or the definition of an authorization concept for users. Finally, the selection of suitable hardware is also a key success factor when it comes to discussing whether smart glasses, tablets or smartphones should be used to equip machine operators or technicians.

Motivation as a driver of transformation

The transformation from analog to digital processes is initiated through different motivators depending on the company. Driven by a lack of qualified workers, increasing cost pressure, or declining margins, striving for more sustainability and climate protection, new work forms or changing customer expectations, digital innovations have become an important competitive advantage. Customer service offers the potential for sustainable differentiation. Companies that expand their service offerings through immersive technologies such as augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR) increase customer satisfaction and loyalty. In addition, a digital service concept creates the foundation for new business models and resulting revenue streams.

In addition to successful change management, the base for digital processes consists of the comprehensive functionality of a scalable software solution. Manufacturing and processing companies as well as machine and plant manufacturers need features and structures that enable them to digitally map and implement a wide variety of use cases in the product lifecycle of complex machines and plants.

Established "Remote" Use Cases

Every day, hundreds of thousands of experts and technicians travel around the world to support customers, partners, and colleagues with technical issues on machines and systems. Service innovations, such as visual assistance or workflows with digital step-by-step instructions in oculavis SHARE, enable machine operators and service technicians to be supported more efficiently saving resources without the need for an expert to travel.

Today, troubleshooting, machine acceptance, commissioning and training are established use cases for visual assistance in industrial companies, as also stressed by a recent survey of 39 VDMA member companies (see figure 1 below).
Factory Acceptance Testing (FAT)
Commissioning
Trainings
Troubleshooting
Scheduled Maintenance
Remote Audits
Other Use Cases

Figure 1: Poll VDMA web experience exchange on remote service with oculavis, as of February 22, 2022


Machine operators benefit from visual and auditory guidance provided by one or more service experts during live support. A mapping of the field of view onto the machine via the user interface of mobile devices, such as smartphones, tablets, or smart glasses, ensures simple and immediate virtual interaction. AR annotations, a continuous zoom or the possibility to transmit high-resolution images even with a bad internet connection are helpful features of oculavis SHARE. As smart tools for the expert within the video call they enable concrete instructions to technical staff, e.g., for repairs or in training situations.

During machine acceptance testing and commissioning, several stakeholders (customers, suppliers, construction & development, quality assurance, etc.) are involved in order to validate technical functions on a complex machine or system. With the Multi User Call in oculavis SHARE these scenarios, in which a significantly higher number of participants from different locations are involved, can be realized. For more insights on machine acceptance testing with the Multi User Call and a Multi Camera Setup, read the blog post "Next Level Video Support: Remote Factory Acceptance Testing (FAT) with the Multi User Call in oculavis SHARE 9.0".

If necessary, additional persons can be added flexibly and at short notice via the guest user function to an active remote expert call. Technical documentation using screenshots or video recordings easily helps saving and sharing valuable knowledge for colleagues and finally informing customers about the operations performed summarized in the form of a service report.

Use existing hardware and discover new needs

A device-agnostic software solution is ideal for networking experts and technical staff to enable virtual collaboration worldwide. The purchase of new hardware is not necessarily mandatory. Existing smartphones can be used for remote services without any problems. This discharges the budget and allows the focus on the software for the best possible mapping and support of service processes. Additional hardware training can also be saved, as users are familiar with them, and so-called bring-your-own-device (BYOD) concepts can be applied. Either the native apps for iOS and Android from the respective app stores can be installed or the mobile web browser can be used, so that in urgent cases an app installation is not necessary. With just a few clicks, a mobile connection is established between the remote expert in the (home) office and technician in the field (see figure 2).


Figure 2: Visual assistance with oculavis SHARE and a smartphone


Depending on the application and the working conditions of service employees and machine operators, individual hardware requirements can be identified. If the work requires that both hands remain free or if the conditions under which visual support is provided are very unstable, for example on construction sites where the greatest possible freedom of vision is advantageous, the use of industrial smart glasses is helpful. The devices from RealWear are optimized for this purpose.

Smart glasses for the industry: RealWear NavigatorTM 500

The new RealWear NavigatorTM 500 is available since mid-December 2021. Monocular smart glasses with impressing high performance, robustness, wearing comfort and safety as well as usability for industrial application areas. It replaces the previous HMT-1 model, which is still available alongside the Navigator 500 (download PDF for direct comparison of both models). First introduced at the inhouse conference of oculavis, the All About Remote 2021, the device reflects a strong industry orientation with its optimized features. Hands-free working with voice control is one of the major benefits of using smart glasses (see figure 3).


Figure 3: Visual support with oculavis SHARE and the RealWear NavigatorTM 500


Features such as waterproof, dustproof and shockproof from a 2-meter drop make the NavigatorTM 500 the optimal equipment for special working conditions. Optimizations in noise filtering, reduction of weight, improvements in processor, memory, and graphics performance as well as a significantly increased camera resolution with 48 MP RealWear unites in its new product. In combination with the powerful software solution oculavis SHARE, the full potential of AR supported remote processes can be realized.
RealWear Navigator™ 500 - Introducing the next generation of smart glasses for the industry[15:55] Michael Krämer at All About Remote 2021



Best Practices with oculavis SHARE

More than 200 industrial companies from various sectors successfully use oculavis SHARE for a wide range of application scenarios. The selection of hardware is consistently based on the use cases and user preferences.

Considering work safety and the possibility to work with both hands free, thyssenkrupp Cement and Mining Technologies relies on smart glasses. 180 remote experts and more than 80 RealWear smart glasses with oculavis SHARE are currently in use to keep production processes running optimally. Short-term troubleshooting, inspections and technical consulting for plant optimization are among the fields of application of the live support. In addition, a business model for digital services has been successfully established.
How to trick a pandemic: Close to industrial customers in times of Corona with fast implementation of new digital services[29:9] thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions AG at AAR 2021


The international tech company SCHOTT relies on oculavis SHARE in combination with smartphones, that allows easy onboarding of new users. Thus, the platform could be expanded to more than 460 active users by now. The wide range of applications for visual assistance include pre-acceptance inspections, employee training, virtual production tours, support during audits, setup of new systems and production ramp-ups of plants and systems for the manufacture of glass and glass ceramics.
Remote Assistance - from Proof of Concept to full managed IT service[28:54] Digital initiatives to implement Remote Assistance for production processes and machines.



The Future is Remote: Smart Service and Smart Factory Use Cases

In a constant evolution of business, environmental and digitalization requirements for processes and use cases, the flexibility and adaptability of software solutions and hardware components are essential.

Regarding the future of machine and plant manufacturers, added value can be achieved at many interfaces to the customer via smart services. Customer loyalty and delight, faster response times, reduced travel costs, higher machine availability and new service revenues are measurable benefits. Remote commissioning, training, or troubleshooting are just some of the numerous use cases along the life cycle of machinery and equipment (see figure 4).


Figure 4: Self services with digital workflows and step-by-step instructions for end users of machinery and equipment


On the other hand, smart factory concepts for the manufacturing industry are keys to increasing productivity by networking people, machines, and processes regardless of location. Areas of application can be found in ramp-up management, in maintenance and repair, in standard operating procedures (SOP) for digital assembly and quality processes. Additionally, a possible digital shop floor management helps to supply information to employees most efficiently and user friendly.

New collaboration forms and technologies should always serve humans and benefit them in their daily work. The use of software and hardware must be tailored to the situation. Harmonization with the corporate culture, extensive application tests in the field, and education about use and functionality are further important factors for maximizing trust and acceptance.

Feel free to contact us and arrange a live demo, where we can work together on how visual assistance and digital workflows can support the individual processes in your organization as well.

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