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Topical Technology 06.12.2018     Author: Annette Bammert

Take-Away Knowledge for Industry 4.0 – AR Technologies on the Rise

Augmented Reality technologies already enhance production and development processes up and down the length and breadth. Companies like Toyota, Audi, Bosch and BMW use AR and VR technologies in various areas. Upsides are not only generated at the assembly lines. The MinebeaMitsumi subsidiary Minebea Intec now uses the AR application “miRemote” for customer support.

What if everyone was an expert? This question sums up the idea behind most of the AR technologies used in the industry nowadays. Whether in development, production, maintenance or customer service – in all areas it is possible and useful to retrieve necessary data, information and expertise in real time and anywhere. On our way towards Factory 4.0, AR and VR concepts will play a decisive role, as they link experts with users worldwide and digitalize valuable, cloud-based know-how.

AR technologies for assembly lines

Production support by using data glasses can provide more transparency in the increasingly complex manufacturing processes of the majority of companies. Thanks to AR, a digital image of assembly lines with an integrated fault display can be created. Especially in times of skills shortage, there is no need for experts and technicians to travel to each affected location in case of any problems, which is always time-consuming and expensive. Rapid action and quick response can take place in real time and from anywhere via video communication. The majority of the systems, which are already on the market, provide live-image screenshots in which relevant components and steps can be highlighted and explained in detail by the expert. The technician looks over the shoulder of the operator and is able to give instructions and to share his expertise. It is also possible to realize video streaming via QR codes on the respective machines, which reduces production downtimes. Videos are displayed in the employee’s field of view.

Logically, the next step is the meticulous documentation of the malfunctions and their causes. If any patterns can be found, we are one stop closer to the ideal “predictive maintenance”. Companies could definitely score with this automated documentation during customer audits.

The MinebeaMitsumi subsidiary PM DM is currently examining options for the European production site in Košice, Slovakia, in order to act even more flexible on the European market. In Slovakia, mainly drive systems for the automotive sector are produced in high volumes.

AR technologies for customer support

More and more frequently, AR concepts are also designed for end customers. Automobile manufacturers provide expanded vehicle views and technical features with AR technologies. Minebea Intec also comes up with an innovative service solution for customers. With “miRemote”, the company provides its customers with an agile and very versatile tool that offers direct access to services, regardless of their location. Minebea Intec is a leading provider of industrial weighing and inspection solutions and makes service solutions accessible from anywhere in the world now. “The miRemote service tool is based on Augmented Reality technology used by XMReality,” explains Michael Tappe, Global Service Manager at Minebea Intec, “The intuitive tool helps identify and avoid disruptions, while simultaneously increasing the technical availability of systems and devices. It therefore forms part of a consistent prevention strategy. Service technicians can provide support with process steps from their location and assist users by pointing or using visual movements.” Whether correcting operation techniques, analysing errors or quickly identifying the right spare part, all functions are intended to support users in their work and efficiently reduce any downtimes. “Ultimately, on production lines in food or chemical production for example, time is the most valuable commodity,” explains Michael Tappe. “We anticipate significant cost savings for our customers.”

From the Minebea Intec service centre, the technician sees exactly what the customer captures using their current smartphone or tablet camera in real time, and can therefore diagnose operating errors or error messages and provide targeted assistance. There is an array of innovative features to help them do this, including hand overlay, finger pointing and supplementary speech and text communication. The technician can also show documents and record videos for subsequent assessment. The intuitive user-friendly app is hosted by Minebea Intec’s partner company XMReality and can be downloaded to most mobile devices. The system is supported by all common operating systems such as Windows 10 64-bit, Android 5.1 or higher and iOS 9.0 or higher.