Augmented reality (AR) is no longer science fiction. Organizations are using AR tools to transform the way they perform operations and maintenance, ultimately delivering better performance and greater reliability. Emerson’s Anna Velena and Vineesh Kapoor shared their thoughts in a Control Engineering article on how plants are utilizing AR as part of their digital transformation—upskilling the workforce to close the skills gap.
As new workers begin to replace the experienced personnel who are rapidly retiring,
plant management can no longer rely on workers’ long-nurtured abilities to detect sights and sounds in the field.
Vineesh and Anna focus on a strategy to implement AR in a manner that delivers three key values—situational awareness, IIoT data integration, and live remote assistance.
New workers in a plant spend a great deal of time learning where critical field devices are located and identifying the right assets among many similar types when they arrive at a field location. AR technologies simplify this process for both new and experienced personnel with
navigation tools built into AR to help users locate assets. Through their mobile device, plant personnel can view assets in the field and see overlays that identify assets by name and provide an intuitive health status.
In a case study example shared by Anna and Vineesh, a chemical manufacturer uses Plantweb™ Optics Augmented Reality technology to help contracted instrumentation and engineering technicians quickly locate assets in their facility, avoiding the need to have local personnel spend time guiding them around the plants.
IIoT Data Integration
When AR technologies are integrated with OT data systems—such as an asset performance platform—they deliver the most value.
Using a mobile device, users can tap the asset to bring up its entire catalog of asset and process data, documentation, and history of previous maintenance.
Immediate access to data no matter where they are in the field helps prevent technicians from traveling back and forth to the staging area for more information, ultimately speeding maintenance.
Another case study shows an additional value to IIoT data integration with AR—knowledge capture. A natural gas organization uses Plantweb Optics Augmented Reality to
capture methods of experienced personnel in the AR system and tie them to the assets they impact.
That captured knowledge will help the plant ensure that operations run correctly and efficiently, long after the operators who have refined the system have left the plant.
Live Remote Assistance
Often, a field technician will need assistance with a complex issue, but expert personnel are rare and busy. AR helps remove the need for experts to travel to site, instead giving them the tools to remotely collaborate with field technicians to solve complex problems.
Using the Plantweb Optics Augmented Reality interface, a remote expert can see exactly what a field technician sees, and assist the technician using on-screen annotations overlaid on the problem asset.
Experts are available faster and have more tools to help fix problems in the field. Asset downtime is reduced, leading to fast return on investment for the AR system.
AR technology is changing the way new and incumbent workers view operations and maintenance—both literally and figuratively. Read the article by Anna and Vineesh for additional perspectives on the way AR transforms operations. You can also estimate the potential savings you can achieve with AR using the Plantweb Optics Augmented Reality ROI Calculator, and visit the Plantweb Optics page on Emerson.com to learn more about how AR can help close the skills gap for your personnel.