Maintenance is an essential part of any operation. While figuring out when to do maintenance is the purview of smart systems such as Predictive Maintenance, the performance of that maintenance is the responsibility of your engineers. It is here that inconsistencies can appear, be that engineer experience, training, or availability, and begin to have a real effect on your operational performance. So, how can you support your maintenance teams in completing vital work?
Augmented reality. With such a tool available, you can further bring your engineers into your digital transformation journey and empower them while gaining stability in the performance of maintenance. So, what, in greater detail, does this mean for your engineers and for your operation?
Firstly, confidence and peace of mind. AR platforms enable the capture of specific evidence which ensures work has been completed to the right standards. Taken to its logical conclusion this can also mean interfacing an IIoT platform with network-enabled tools which automatically upload their readings, along with head-mounted display (HMD) recordings, for an entirely accurate picture of the work undertaken.
This evidence collection combined with detailed procedural instructions means a step can never be missed, nor any shortcuts taken. That is not to say that best practice can never evolve, which leads us to our next benefit of integrating AR within your growing digital platform – expert knowledge capture.
Your experienced engineers know best, and AR allows you to retain their knowledge for the future. The result is shorter maintenance periods and better standards when your young engineers are fully immersed in an operational environment that is more suited to the learning methods of digital natives. AR is also highly effective at translating information and techniques often difficult to pick up from 2D manuals and lengthy technical documents. In fact, should these documents be required, they can be accessed from within the AR environment and displayed hands-free.
As operations move with the times, AR not only becomes increasingly relevant but necessary to navigate the growing complexity of modern machinery. Engineers of all skill levels are granted the necessary information and instructions to repair new or legacy machinery, to the benefit of fix rates. ‘Right first time’ means your operation gets back online rapidly, improving your OEE within a working environment that’s beneficial to your engineers.
Equally, the final benefit we’ll touch on in this article is related to worker safety and agility in a COVID world. Remote working becomes effective with the right tools, allowing for a second pair of eyes and hands offsite. Fewer engineers are required to complete maintenance thanks to detailed AR instructions and experienced engineers can leverage their expertise remotely across multiple jobs and sites in rapid succession.
AR is longer a futuristic ‘nice-to-have’, instead the technology is becoming a real force which is gaining momentum and producing tangible results within the manufacturing industry. Providing technicians with standardised digital procedures, instructional videos or immersive experiences in the real work environment is ensuring critical tasks are carried out consistently, safely, and effectively.