Options for the fix
When it comes to fixing a problem, there are essentially two scenarios. The first is where the customer carries out the work. In this scenario, the spare part is automatically despatched, and the customer is informed how to do the fix.
Alternatively, the PM solution creates a case which is automatically filled by an ABB service engineer, who is provided with the part and goes to the site with an AR app and performs the task.
Using AR and its supporting applications and systems has two major benefits. The first is a reduction in the number of touch points that can potentially go wrong. This way of working also moves the plant from a situation where events are uncontrolled or unscheduled, to one where we have a plan based on the knowledge that certain components will need to be repaired or replaced at a particular time. The PM approach reduces the time needed to get a plant back into operation and improves safety by not putting the plant into an unknown condition.
AR also enables remote working. With the COVID pandemic, the ability for technicians or engineers to be supported by a remote live expert or fully digitized teaching tools, is a major advantage and contributes to getting systems back online as quickly as possible.
Surmounting the barriers to AR
As issues such as skills shortages, remote locations and staff absence affect the ability of companies to keep their systems up and running, AR is set to become increasingly common. Many countries have plants that are difficult to get to and even well-populated countries have their share of remote locations.
There will most likely be a combination of factors that will drive the adoption of AR - the way that different generations access information and use devices, shifts in behaviour and technology will all contribute. We have seen technology go from disconnected devices to connected, then move from monitoring to condition monitoring, then to predictive maintenance as people understand what the data is showing them.
The most recent development has been prescriptive. This is a fundamental part of the AR concept, with applications explaining what you need to do - ultimately, we may well see a move to autonomous maintenance, with the fix itself even being automatic, possibly even self-fixing devices. In some respects, SIL safety protocols are about looking at failure mechanisms within systems and having built in redundancy, so you can deal with unplanned errors.
Eventually, redundancy may well be virtualised, with software based virtual flow measurement that allows you to infer flow even when your flow installation stops working you, in a similar way to digital twinning.
Once we overcome the barriers to its adoption, making it easy to use and widely accepted by industry, AR is bound for a big future as part of the maintenance landscape of process plants – with its promise of faster, easier fixes, saving time, money and effort, it can’t fail to play a significant role in improving efficiency and safety.
Unleashing the true power of prediction
Developments in technology are offering greatly expanded potential for predictive maintenance to help transform the performance of production processes. By providing operators with advance warning about issues and problems before they occur, together with the information needed to fix them, the combination of predictive maintenance and tools such as Augmented Reality provide a winning formula for achieving improved efficiency with greatly reduced downtime.
For more information, including how to download our Remote Insights AR app, visit https://bit.ly/ABB_ARapp