Challenges posed by traditional maintenance measures

As a service provider for augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), we can provide you with agile, one-to-one, targeted support for your projects. Our Website provides the following information to give you an overview of Remote Support with augmented reality and the associated consultancy services:

  • Why should maintenance be performed remotely?
  • Your benefits through using an AR remote maintenance tool
  • The composition of an AR Remote Support system
  • Our services in the field of AR Remote Support

Remote Support with augmented reality

Since the year dot, machines have evolved to become ever more efficient and complex. More power, more information, better sensors, more automation, better protection. In an eternal cycle, better machines replace worse ones and new systems replace outdated ones.

With the growing complexity of systems, the need for maintenance and servicing work grows, and ultimately so do the requirements placed upon the expertise of service technicians.

The use of specially trained personnel and experienced experts is becoming more and more important, but years of experience, good training, and skills alone often simply aren’t enough when it comes to complex maintenance tasks. In addition to special tools, even the best service technician repeatedly requires extensive information such as repair guides or documents explaining how to carry out special maintenance tasks.

The availability of information and experts isn’t important only for the execution of preventive and reactive servicing tasks; it must also be possible to call upon service personnel at short notice for innovative maintenance concepts such as predictive maintenance. Long downtimes and significant loss of production can be avoided only if urgent servicing is carried out immediately.

Specialists must be prepared to travel frequently. This is the only way for companies to ensure that their machines remain in operation. The situation is made more difficult by falling numbers of new recruits, meaning that service technicians are becoming a dwindling resource.

The consequences of a lack of maintenance personnel or personnel who have to travel frequently are as follows:

  • High travel costs
  • Growing downtimes
  • Frequent production losses

How can a company ensure the availability of specially trained service personnel if they cannot be present on site at all times?

If you’re thinking that the solution might be remote maintenance, you’re spot on! A professionally structured remote maintenance concept solves the problems mentioned above efficiently. Unfortunately, most remote maintenance concepts are ad-hoc in nature. The tools they use, such as the phone, Instant Messenger, or video calls on a smartphone, were not designed for the purpose of urgently required maintenance. The price paid is unclear communication, a bumpy flow of information, and the laborious, stressful implementation of instructions.

The ideal tool is something newer and more modern. The key term is augmented reality. In conjunction with smart glasses, this technology can raise maintenance tasks to a new level of productivity.

How you benefit from the use of an augmented reality remote maintenance tool

The use of augmented reality Remote Support means that experts who cannot be present at the site itself can assist your own service technicians to ensure trouble-free maintenance work. With the help of tablets, smartphones, and smart glasses, the specialists can watch what’s going on regardless of their location, talk to your technicians, and set geospatial markers and symbols to make their instructions clear.

The use of data glasses allows the full potential of AR remote maintenance to be utilized. The camera on the data glasses allows the connected specialist to see exactly what’s in the field of vision of your technician. And the technician has both hands free, can get on with the maintenance task at hand without limitations, and – thanks to condition monitoring, for example – can keep an eye on the most important machine data at all times.

The virtual markers that the connected expert can set on objects in the field of vision of the technician visually supplement the instructions given and help with diagnostics. Additional functions include documentation about common problem solution processes and the display of repair guides, circuit diagrams and any other kind of document.

Industrial 4.0 , Augmented reality concept. Hand holding tablet with AR service , maintenance application and calling technician for check destroy part of smart machine in smart factory background

This means that remote maintenance with augmented reality is a relatively simple application with great effect. Your technicians can establish a direct connection with specialists and benefit from their expert knowledge and experience with as few barriers as possible. Spatial AR instructions provide innovative help to people giving and receiving instructions. Integrated functions for documentation and the call-up of common repair processes optimize productivity and can form the basis for further important projects and databases.

Above all, the resulting added value lies in the following benefits:

  • Minimization of travel costs
  • Decreased requirement for specially trained experts
  • Significantly shortened downtimes
  • Location independence

But what does the application look like in detail and what is it based on? The next section answers these questions.

The functions of Remote Support

Composition of an augmented reality Remote Support system

Remote Support covers a large area. It needs to work in as many places as possible and to provide workers with a sufficient range of functions. For these purposes and similar ones, the market already offers a host of promising solutions, and it’s important to understand these and be familiar with them. Custom solutions are also possible, and may be the approach of choice depending on requirements and the specific application. To give you a general look at how applications of this kind work, we summarize the most common functions below.

Communication

A remote maintenance service case generally involves two parties: The first is the service technician who performs the maintenance task at the actual site. The second is the connected specialist, who is not present at the site itself. The technician uses a smartphone, tablet, or – ideally – data glasses for the video broadcasting functions. If data glasses are used, the technician has both hands free for unimpaired work. The connected specialist sits at their computer and communicates with the service technician using a headset, for example.

If necessary, additional people can join a session and take part in the maintenance process. All of the functions can be made available to all participants without problems.

The video signal is optimized for mobile networks to enable the transmission of on-site happenings even at a low bandwidth. The video quality is flexibly and automatically adjusted in line with the effective bandwidth. This means that the specialist can watch the maintenance work live even with a relatively poor network connection and can help the technician by providing detailed instructions about the work to be done.

Simplified representation of the Support CommunicationSource: Own representation

The image shows an example of how remote maintenance communications might work. In addition to communication between the service technician and specialist, machine data can be made available for both parties to further support the maintenance tasks. In particular, condition monitoring is used here.

Visualization

Regardless of the device used, the focus is on displaying information as well as broadcasting events as they happen. This takes place on the screen of a smartphone or tablet or – ideally – via data glasses that project the information directly into the active or peripheral field of vision of the technician. In addition, instructions that can be followed intuitively can be displayed and exchanged. The connected specialist can therefore use a virtual laser pointer to clarify their instructions by coloring in objects or sketching symbols. This communicates instructions in a more precise, unambiguous way, so time isn’t wasted on vague descriptions.

In addition to speech, flexible markers, and a visual live feed, information can be exchanged in the form of text messages, photos, videos, and technical documents. Additional media like these can be flexibly added to the field of vision of the technician to support their work.

Documentation

A further feature of an AR remote maintenance system is the recording and archiving of service sessions. In addition to the exchanged media, metadata such as the participants, maintenance duration, exchanged messages, and time of the session can be saved. However, the main purpose of these functions is to develop a knowledge database. This can be used to find any previously saved session using a key word search, which means that it’s a great help to technicians when they carry out future maintenance tasks.

Implementation

Do you need to call the remote maintenance solution via existing applications or integrate it into your IT systems? Here, an existing product interface could be used or completely new applications could be developed and integrated.

Convinced by the argument but unsure as to which data glasses you should use? Or perhaps the use of a smartphone or tablet would work better for you? Today’s market already offers a range of options. In addition to popular smartphones and tablets, there are lots of different data glasses that could be used for Remote Support. These include the following:

  • RealWear HMT-1
  • Epson BT-300
  • Epson BT-350
  • Vuzix Blade
  • Vuzix M300
  • Microsoft HoloLens 2
  • Google Glass

Each set of data glasses has its own advantages and disadvantages, and suitability depends on the specific application scenario. So that you’re not left high and dry here, we’ve taken a close look at the available devices so that we can provide you with targeted, application-optimized advice.

Our services for augmented reality Remote Support

Some augmented reality remote maintenance products promising you a quick start at a low cost are already available on the market. However, in order to achieve really good results, you must answer the following important questions first:

  • Which solutions exist and how do they differ?
  • Which devices should you use them on? Smartphones, tablets, or data glasses?
  • What data glasses are available and which suit your application scenario best?
  • Do you need a custom solution?
To achieve success, a thorough analysis of the starting situation, the right choice of solution, and the use of suitable hardware are vital.

As AR experts, this is where we come into our own. We can help you to back the right horse! We’re familiar with products in the Remote Support field and know their pros, cons, and possibilities. Thanks to intensive grappling with the special features of various data glasses and the development of AR applications, we’re a reliable partner for projects throughout the augmented reality field. As an IT expert, we also know how to ensure that the correct interfaces are used, we can integrate solutions into your existing infrastructure, and we can even develop custom software.

Our consulting services in the area of augmented reality Remote Support include the following:

  • Product selection
  • Hardware selection
  • Commissioning
  • Connection to existing IT infrastructure
  • Development of custom solutions

Perhaps, as well as supporting your specialist personnel with modern solutions, you also want to be able to control your machines remotely and keep an eye on the most important sensor data at all times. If so, our IoT experts will be happy to provide you with advice on the topics of condition monitoring and remote control.

Please don’t hesitate to ask us! We’ll find the perfect solution for your maintenance processes and will provide you with reliable, one-to-one help with all of the challenges you face.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Your direct contact

Paulo Ferreira da Silva

Consultant
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Your direct contact Paulo Ferreira da Silva Consultant