Intelligent systems to assist production and service staff.
Seven Austrian industrial and commercial enterprises and research institutions are stepping up to the challenge of conducting a joint research project. They are developing intelligent assistance systems for industrial applications with augmented reality and optical head mounted displays as key technologies.
ßThe new assistance systems, simply Assist 4.0 for short, will revolutionize the assignment of staff in production and service. A central software system combined with modern terminals such as tablets, smartphones or optical head mounted displays support the service staff by providing the required information and visualized data perfectly adapted to the situation, to handle service tasks in a highly effective and efficient manner.
Innovative technologies made in Austria
Under the KNAPP lead, the project is carried out in cooperation with AVL List, evolaris next level, Infineon Technologies Austria, Paris Lodron University of Salzburg, Research Studios Austria Forschungsgesellschaft and XiTrust Secure Technologies. In the course of the Assist 4.0 research project, a total of six different applications will be designed, implemented and evaluated, based on the specific demands and requirements of the industrial partners. In the project run time of about 2.5 years, a complete prototype is scheduled for the end of 2015. The project has a budget of about 3 million euros and is sponsored by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency with 1.8 million euros. “All of the industrial partners had already considered new service solutions with the integration of modern terminals. The idea for a joint research project was born in the Styrian Service Cluster, a group founded to share knowledge and experience. KNAPP and AVL are founding members of this service platform”, says Kajetan Bergles, Service Development Manager at KNAPP and spokesperson for the Styrian Service Cluster.
Assistance systems in the industry 4.0 are mobile and personalized
In an intelligent production, humans and machines communicate with each other naturally, similar to a social network. As production processes become increasingly interconnected, intelligent systems help members of staff by providing context-dependent information in order to work efficiently in the future. Using modern information and communication technologies gives a real-time picture of production, ensures decentralized process control and targeted forecasts. Industrial assistance systems not only need to be mobile, location-based and personalized, they also need to be able to adapt to changing situations quickly. To facilitate daily operation, these assistance systems identify objects and individuals in the production process both in a specific time and space-related context (for example, using indoor GPS, RFID systems, ultra-infrared or optical image and object recognition). With this option, the system provides staff with information perfectly suited for the situation to ensure they can carry out their work efficiently.
Key technologies: augmented reality and optical head mounted displays
The system offers a wide variety of options for user interaction and different interfaces. Systems with augmented reality technology, for example, can help guide technicians through the steps in maintenance and repairs with the help of visual instructions. A two-hands-free approach ensures effective operation in production using data glasses or optical head mounted displays. The instructions are available as multi-media contents or back office technicians can provide expert assistance in real-time. Mobile technologies will also become increasingly important in training, such as in training-on-the-jobsituations, and for achieving advanced qualifications. With the required data and information available in suitable quality and data prepared in an appropriate manner, staff in training can navigate easily using language, gestures or touch interfaces.
“Assist 4.0 focuses on a flexible, context-dependent solution. At times, even a smartphone can suffice to help production staff make the necessary choices or carry out troubleshooting. In the future, users may perform planned maintenance activities using a tablet. If a technician requires specific information and needs both hands to carry out the task, an optical head mounted display equipped with augmented reality is certainly the ideal output medium”, Peter Brandl Assist 4.0 Project Manager at evolaris explains.
Focus on user-friendly systems
“In this project, our main focus is on the individual user. For us, it is extremely important to develop user-friendly applications that are widely accepted and offer maximum support in everyday tasks. Head mounted displays with augmented reality have a wide field of application and we are truly on solid ground with this technology. Several years ago, we already launched a software solution with a compatible optical head mounted display for manual picking operations”, says Peter Stelzer, Head of the Business Center Vision at KNAPP and Head Project Manager for Assist 4.0. “Using this technology, staff can move freely through the warehouse without restrictions. The system provides the ideal level of information at the right place at the right time. With our research project Assist 4.0, we are working on developing a preventive and at the same time proactive maintenance and service assistance system”, Stelzer adds.