Improving Preventive Maintenance with Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality

by | 17 January 2019 | Basics

Data glasses and the various technologies - augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality - are often associated with the games industry. At the latest since the great success of Pokemon GO and the hype around Magic Leap, Augmented Reality has been increasingly linked with it in perception. This article provides an overview of augmented reality and the use of the technology in preventive maintenance.

Augmented reality is also used in Industry 4.0

The potential of augmented reality and virtual reality goes far beyond the gaming sector. Applications in industry and the working world 4.0 are among the great strengths of "reality augmenting technologies" and will become a new standard in the networked production become. In particular, preventive maintenance (Predictive Maintenance) will benefit from the use of computer-based reality augmentation, such as augmented reality.

HoloLens & Co have long been a reality

The extent to which augmented reality and mixed reality have already become a trend in industry is shown, for example, by the company Thyssen Krupp. The industrial group introduced Microsoft's HoloLens technology across the board. With the help of the data glasses and augmented reality, maintenance as well as other service work on their lifts is improved, made faster and safer. The world's largest construction equipment company, Caterpiller, is also using augmented reality to provide expert maintenance for machines at all times:

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As soon as the Data Strategy and the corresponding Algorithms and tools have been implemented, every employee can receive instructions from experts with the help of data glasses or even a tablet. Augmented reality makes it possible. In this way, machines can be maintained or - depending on the error and cause - even repaired remotely.

Head Mounted Displays keep both hands free

Head-mounted displays / devices, i.e. devices that are worn on the head, offer a decisive advantage over other mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets. The hands are free to work with them.

Preventive maintenance can be planned and carried out more and more effectively with the help of new technologies such as augmented reality. However, in order to benefit from the resulting advantages, some prerequisites must be met.

Link tip: Download here our free Whitepaper on the topic of "Preventive Maintenance down.

Prerequisite for Preventive Maintenance: Sensors

In order to be able to diagnose the technical condition of machines both on site and remotely, they must be equipped with sensors. Complex machines sometimes contain several hundred sensors for this purpose. These sensors can be used to permanently monitor a wide variety of components and functions, especially those that are susceptible to maintenance.

Sensors measure a wide variety of values such as:

  • Temperatures
  • Vibrations
  • Print
  • Levels
  • Humidity
  • Speed
  • Weight
  • Acceleration
  • Inclination

To avoid erroneous measurements, additional sensors are installed at different points to collect comparative values. Each of these sensors provides data that can be used in the context of Data Science Projects can be utilised. In this way, a complete picture of the use can emerge.

Sensors generate a large amount of data that can be used in analyses

Much of this data generated by monitoring has additional economic value and can be used by Data analyses be used for various purposes. Understandably, some companies have concerns about sharing this data with another company. Companies that opt for preventive maintenance should accordingly ensure that only data necessary for maintenance purposes is transferred.

Link tip: If you want to know more about the correct and careful handling of data, also read our blog article on the topic Data Governance.

Monitoring and forecasting models

After the data has been recorded, the following Data Science these sensor data are analysed for patterns and virtual models are developed. In this way, guideline values and algorithms are determined, which are compared with the monitoring data.

Model and reality are thus aligned with each other and it becomes possible to make predictions both about the current state of a machine and about the future course of a particular use. The goal is therefore first to define normal operation in order to recognise the possible failure of individual parts in the future on this basis.

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If the predefined benchmark values are exceeded in the current operation of a plant, countermeasures can be taken (partly) automatically or warnings can be sent to employees.

This is where augmented and mixed reality devices come into play: when an employee puts them on, he or she sees two different levels of reality: The real one, i.e. the machine or a plant, and the virtual reality superimposed on it. Thanks to the large number of sensors, the virtual image can be projected onto the real machine in real time. In the event of a defect, it can be localised exactly where the damage occurred.

Preventive maintenance and augmented reality

A current Study by the management consultancy KPMG came to the conclusion that the technologies augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality are mature enough to be on the verge of a breakthrough. They can contribute to improving product quality, saving costs and increasing efficiency.

Preventive maintenance, as one of several application examples, has great potential for use especially in manufacturing, the automotive sector and the chemical and pharmaceutical industries.

However, augmented reality glasses alone are not enough to realise the value creation potential associated with them. Only the combination of sensor or monitoring data and the prognosis models lead to the practical tools that improve the planning and execution of maintenance work.

Through guidance via augmented reality glasses, employees or users on site can quickly and directly rectify certain faults based on expert instructions in real time. Not every pair of data glasses is equally suitable for the complex tasks (Here is an overview of the different models and variants).

Preventive maintenance goggles must have several features: They must both capture the gaze of the person wearing the glasses and be able to show the wearer the real and virtual reality simultaneously and, finally, provide an audio connection. Pure virtual reality (VR) is less suitable for the industrial context than mixed or augmented reality.

Advantages of virtually enhanced preventive maintenance

The combination of virtual augmented reality and data science makes preventive maintenance even more interesting for companies. They permanently know about the condition of their machinery and equipment and can visualise this in real time. The downtime caused by maintenance and repair becomes even less, more feasible and productivity increases as a result.

Link tip: Read our article on the topic here Industry 4.0: Brownfield vs. Greenfield - Every factory and every company can become part of Industry 4.0.

The first practical applications already show that repairs can be carried out up to four times faster. This not only benefits the companies themselves, but also their customers - both in the B2B and B2C sectors. The residents of a house with a lift benefit just as much from much shorter maintenance times as a car manufacturer.

Preventive maintenance thus becomes an essential part of a corporate strategy designed to increase efficiency and customer satisfaction.

<a href="https://www.alexanderthamm.com/en/blog/author/michaela/" target="_self">Michaela Tiedemann</a>

Michaela Tiedemann

Michaela Tiedemann has been part of the Alexander Thamm GmbH team since the early start-up days. She has actively shaped the development from a fast-moving, spontaneous start-up to a successful company. With the founding of her own family, a whole new chapter began for Michaela Tiedemann at the same time. Hanging up her job, however, was out of the question for the new mother. Instead, she developed a strategy to reconcile her job as Chief Marketing Officer with her role as a mother.

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