Augmented Reality for Operators

Augmented reality—a day in the life of operations is the intriguing title of a 2018 Emerson Exchange conference presentation. Emerson’s Aaron Crews, Mary Grace Francisco, and Mark Nixon joined University of Texas Center for Energy & Environmental Resources‘ Robert Montgomery.

Mark open the presentation introducing the panelists and noting how augmented reality (AR) is being actively incorporated into the overall control system and asset management experience. Emerson and the University of Texas’ Separations Research Program has worked closely together on developing and testing new technologies in process engineering research. Wireless instrumentation and control is but one example.

AR can enhance mobility, image recognition, location awareness and more.

Robert shared some background on the UT Separations Research Program (SRP). Research areas include distillation, divided wall distillation, CO2 adsorption/stripping, liquid-liquid extraction, oil extraction from algae, verification of separation processes, process scale-up and troubleshooting.

The SRP has had a DeltaV system in place for more than a decade. The system contains more than 600 and features new system advancements as they are developed, such as electronic marshalling and wireless device.

Grace came up showing a customer journey. The customer journey is a design tool to help focus what’s important for users to prioritize these needs in the technology developed. Getting user feedback early in the design process. It gets past supposing to finding out. Grace gave a shout out to some of the customers participating in the user feedback.

Some use cases for AR include visualization of live data, asset information retrieval, maintenance & procedure task lists, 3D assembly viewing, remote technical assistance, personnel tracking, geofencing/alerting users of hazardous areas and more.

She shared a use case of an outside field operator. Understanding pain points is the key to developing solutions to solve them. Some of these include finding assets and wasting time walking back forth between equipment and control room when troubleshooting.

She showed a video troubleshooting a problem with a valve. AR helmet is used to find the valve when the operator is unsure where it is located. Issuing voice commands about the valve to found starts the process of AR navigating the operator to the valve. Calling for remote assistance, the operator and technician back in the control room were able to solve the problem with the air supply to the valve.

Aaron came up to describe some of the business results achievable including faster engagement of personnel in finding and solving problems, real-time collaboration, deep learning to help identify equipment, hands free access to information through voice commands, and higher mobility to information and expertise.

Visit the Plantweb digital ecosystem section on for more on a range of technologies than can help drive performance improvements.