Marrying Asset Management with Augmented Reality
Augmented reality (AR) allows users to enhance their field of view with real-time superimposed digital information. The technology is now being more widely used in maintenance and repair operations, and its value is enhanced when complemented with data and historical knowledge from asset management systems.
Using AR in maintenance and repair allows technicians to receive information about specific assets instantly. Similar to the way a person can use different monitors and projection devices to view data, an AR system would take data (in this case from an asset management system) and project it onto goggles or camera-enabled mobile devices for a technician to view when working on a machine, device, or other asset in the field or plant.
Some of the proven advantages of using AR technology for maintenance and repair include reduced human errors, faster execution time, increased productivity, faster fix rates, and ultimately, reduced overall operations downtime.
Given these advantages and the high opportunity costs incurred when vital equipment is not operating, more and more companies are evaluating or adopting AR for maintenance and repair.
Timing is Everything
AR, in general, and its use in maintenance, in particular, has been available for many years. However, several issues prevented mainstream adoption.
To start, the equipment was incredibly bulky. People had to wear heavy computers as backpacks, and the viewing goggles were the size of welding helmets. AR systems also were very expensive.
Today, these problems are gone. The price of top of the line AR goggles ranges from a few hundred to a thousand dollars. And smart glasses, which project AR images, are available for less than $100. The cost of AR systems, including software and the hardware to run the applications, also has dropped significantly.
Making Use of Asset Management Data
AR involves overlaying virtual information at a specific position over an object or in the room. AR integrated with an asset management solution provides workers with real-time data about the part or piece of equipment being repaired.
If asset data includes location information, the worker can quickly find the object in the room. That can save an incredible amount of time on every job.
Once they get to the asset, AR makes it possible for maintenance workers to view accurate, context-aware instructions over digital representations of machines and equipment. The worker does not have to keep referring to paper manuals, thus boosting productivity. The worker’s hands are free to perform maintenance and repair tasks while viewing the instructions. In many cases, this can improve safety and reduce errors.
A simple image, text, and video display applications projected via AR can be very useful for setting up machines and providing maintenance instructions. Areas where AR powered solutions can be used for maintenance and repair operations, include:
- Preventive Maintenance: An AR system combined with an asset management system can deliver assembly instructions, service inspection instructions, detailed instructions for unfamiliar procedures, and include a compliance checklist.
- Corrective Maintenance: An AR system used in conjunction with an asset management system can give a maintenance worker access to service manual instructions, a library of past solutions, or engage with remote assistance.
- Predictive Maintenance: An AR system can view and project asset management data to provide real-time access to data about the specific part of a piece of equipment being maintained or repaired. The worker also has access to information about control actions, disruptions, and analytics related to the performance of the part.
Share the Informational Wealth
Pairing asset management systems and AR solutions offers a way to improve maintenance employee training. For example, overlaying written instructions on a part using AR can reduce the number of hours spent on-boarding new employees.
Visualizing a machine in AR is convenient for training and showing how the mechanisms of products work. Walking the employee through step-by-step instructions makes it easier for new employees to understand products and find failures at a machine.
Empowering a new employee with such detailed asset knowledge available through AR glasses gives companies a way to more efficiently use their maintenance workforce. Technology gives us ability to go to extent of being blessed from gas furnace repair Murrieta to cern particle accelerator. Without the technology, new technicians would not likely be sent out alone to the field, because they do not yet possess the required knowledge. Imparting the information to them via AR eliminates the problem. And this lets a company delegate routine maintenance tasks to the newer employees and frees up experienced maintenance experts for the more demanding jobs.
Additionally, the experts can remain at the home facility and support the field technicians on the road. This could reduce travel costs and help retain more experienced workers who do not want to travel all the time.
In summary, AR technology paired with asset management systems provides many benefits and can help companies speed and improve maintenance and repairs.