OverIT is an Italian company specialising in Field Service Management which, thanks to cutting-edge products, guarantees its customers an increase in productivity, efficiency and safety. The know-how gained in over 20 years of concrete and operational experience has allowed it to transform the processes of hundreds of companies, launching a new era of Field Service Management, completing activities completely hands-free.
Alberto Battistutti, OverIT Marketing & Communications Specialist, talks about it.
The rapid spread of support technology and the reduction in the cost of wearable devices (as has already happened for portable ones), are contributing to an ever greater diffusion of solutions based on Augmented Reality which, integrated by Artificial Intelligence components, are likely to prove indispensable for all companies operating in the field of Industrial Manufacturing (and not only).
Augmented Reality and its derivatives. What are they?
Augmented Reality can be thought of as an extension of the user s environment, which is enriched in real time with superimposed digital models and information, such as text, graphics and multimedia content. The goal of this technology is to improve the physical world with contextual, meaningful and relevant information. Its antithesis is represented by Virtual Reality, which is a technology that radically changes the way the world is perceived, as it immerses people in a totally artificial environment, imagined and generated by the computer. The elements are separated from reality and transformed into virtual ones, maintaining the possibility of interacting with objects and places perceived through the five senses. Between the two lies Mixed Reality, which integrates digital models into the physical world, allowing users to interact with them and, at the same time, to remain aware of the real surrounding environment.
The main differences between these three technologies are reflected in the devices used and, consequently, in the type of functionality made available and the area where these functions can be reduced.
Augmented Reality in Industry 4.0
Very often, field technicians have to cope with situations where the problem is unknown and this scenario forces the company they work for to send a more experienced colleague to the site. A procedure of this type is, however, costly in terms of time and therefore inefficient. Likewise, the same maintenance and repair interventions represent one of the most significant critical issues for companies. This is where this technology comes into play, helping to perform maintenance activities, virtual collaborations, remote presentations and training of machinery.
Augmented Reality is in fact able to compensate for the skills gap and reduce staff errors, ensure rapid and effective know-how sharing, increase the percentage of first-time resolutions and provide more accurate diagnoses. Furthermore, by exploiting the integration with Artificial Intelligence, the user has all the necessary tools at his disposal to automatically capture the experience he is living, which is then processed by powerful algorithms and distributed within the organisation.
Technological asset tagging, photo and video indexing, real time translation, creation of operational workflows, are just some of the possibilities offered by the integration of Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence, which contribute to creating a shared and reusable knowledge base, everything in a completely automatic way. This ensures that, with each technical intervention, the application suggests to the user, autonomously and proactively, the possible solutions deriving from the learning of previous activities.
With technological advancement, also the complexity of machinery has increased and, consequently, support operations require the intervention of increasingly specialised resources. Expert maintenance technicians, however, are in short supply and often forced to move from one end of the world to the other to respond to the most complex intervention requests, thus prolonging machinery downtime and increasing costs for companies. It this context the training of remote resources on new processes or complex activities takes over. These functions are particularly useful in case of situations that are too complicated or expensive to recreate in reality.
The available information can also be integrated with that of IoT connected devices (which allow users to view the most appropriate data to directly evaluate the correct functioning of an asset), or used in combination with BIM (Building Information Modeling) to evaluate the impact of installing a system in advance, even before its construction. In addition, the digital twin of an asset can be manipulated in real time and accompanied by additional information, anchoring annotations shared by remote users with the necessary skills to support the execution of activities in the field. These capabilities extend skills and allow you to complete maintenance and service tasks more quickly and efficiently.
Finally, we should not forget how the current global emergency situation and the related restrictions that have resulted from it have represented a perfect springboard for all areas related to remote collaboration and the demonstration of machinery and related remote functions. These two particular uses of technology make it possible to minimise personnel movement, both in the case of operational activities and for those more related to training, bringing digital information wherever the business requires it, guaranteeing total safety for the health of operating personnel and with results that are even higher compared to those obtainable with traditional methods.
The advantages of Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence when applied to the world of Industrial Manufacturing
AR and AI offer multiple development opportunities to manufacturing companies and the Industrial Manufacturing sector, due to the intrinsic nature of the activities that the operators in the field have to face on a daily basis, and are among those who are leading the transition towards the new normal . The application of these technologies can, however, be extended to business processes of all kinds, from sales and marketing activities to Field Service, technical support, training and learning, up to production.
It is now proven that AR and AI are able to offer added value to industrial companies that choose to adopt them, both in terms of reducing work execution times and for the better safety they guarantee to the workforce.
– Operational resources are more efficient thanks to hands-free voice operation and real-time remote support.
– Specialised skills and experiences are transferred to the entire organisation for shared and proactive use.
– The training of inexperienced staff is faster and easier, thanks to collaborative learning.
– Productivity, safety and customer service reach new standards.
The combination of AR and AI is able to extend resource operations, providing them with support during maintenance activities on production lines through guided procedures, allowing automatic access to any type of information on the assets of a plant and, last but not least, enabling the connection with other resources, to provide or receive real time assistance, thus ensuring a constant corporate knowledge transfer.