Let’s imagine a situation where a machine breaks on a manufacture production line or at a work site. The problem turns out to be so challenging that the company’s own service cannot solve it and the machine manufacture expert’s presence is needed.
The company production slows down or stops until the problem is solved. This can even take a week if the expert is on other side of the world when the problem appears. The costs are going to be high for both parties.
Softability, along with its Swedish partner, is piloting VIESTI at the moment, which is a solution for the above said situations.
– VIESTI is a remote support solution which is meant to connect help needing people from the field work to the experts whose location is somewhere else, says Mikko Luukkonen from Softability Oy.
According to Luukkonen, the idea is to offer companies a fast way to solve problems either with the saved solutions in the ticketing system or with the help of an expert.
– Productivity grows when a broken machine can be fixed quickly. Also, consequently unnecessary mistakes don’t happen when workers don’t try to solve the problems by themselves while waiting for the expert to come.
Сollected data reveals machines’ performance in the system
VIESTI is based on sharing live video. The field worker is using the mobile application that connects him/her to the expert who is using the web application. The applications work together through a smart ticketing system. It collects data based on the connections and the data can be used for the later diagnostics.
– When a problem appears the field worker can first search with keywords if there is already an existing instruction, picture or video solution for the problem. If not, the field worker takes connection to an expert and they can try to solve the problem together. The system also supports smart glasses which frees the field workers’ hands for the service work, Luukkonen says.
“When a problem appears the field worker can first search with keywords if there is already an existing instruction, picture or video solution for the problem.”
After a while, the data collected to the system help both the manufacturer and its customer to understand how the machines work better.
– The end customers who use the machines see what kind of problems there are with the machines and how they can be fixed. The manufacturer instead sees, for example, if there are certain types of problems that repeat themselves and where the problems appear the most.
Augmented reality enables new features to VIESTI users already next year
Luukkonen says that VIESTI is developed especially for industrial needs. Besides service work it can also be used in installation and control work as well as in training.
For example car, energy and mining industries have been very interested in the pilot results. Also Softability´s most important partner at the moment is the major operator in the mining industry.
– VIESTI has been developed for almost 1,5 years and through our partner VIESTI have been tested in six different countries. We have invested in this a lot, Luukkonen says.
Development still continues rapidly because it takes time to include all the technology wanted in VIESTI. In Softability we hope that next year experts will be able to guide field workers by drawing instructions straight on top of live videos instead of the current screenshots.
– Augmented reality is mostly a road map thing. VIESTI´s development started with the idea that augmented reality would come along at an early stage. However it is technologically challenging to produce live video connection with the possibility to put annotations on top of the right screw, explains Luukkonen.
Another goal is to get artificial intelligence (AI) to recognize and track machines and their parts that need fixing.
– AI scans the machine or its part and draws work instructions on top of the picture.
At the moment the most progressive approach is to use 3D models. According to Luukkonen, it is the most mature form of augmented reality (AR) at the moment because optimized CAD model of the dependent machine is the only thing needed to be brought to the mobile device or smart glass screen.
This way VIESTI gives the best service to the companies which are moving to the IoT era.
– Manufacturers constantly connect more devices to the cloud to get more sensor data on their performance. With VIESTI this data can be utilized in visual form when the machine´s digital twin is updated based on the data produced by the existing machine. The image of the machine´s digital twin before and after the service can be for example brought to the smart glass screen.
Efficient team behind it all
Solution like VIESTI doesn´t come into existence by one pair of hands.
Luukkonen underlines that developing functional solution requires a team where every member´s skills are used right.
– The biggest challenge of collecting any kind of team is to find the right people to the right roles. If the team needs to work effectively its members have to get along.
Just the right combination of people ended up developing VIESTI – at least for now.
– We have strong senior architecture knowledge on mobile and web development and the head of the project is very process oriented and understands the importance of quality control. Little by little VIESTI has been developed in a controlled and agile manner and now it has started to go through a comprehensive testing process.
The article has been originally posted in Itewiki blog based on the interview of Mikko Luukkonen. The interview is written in Finnish.
Softability Group Oy, Mikko Luukkonen, Sales Manager, mikko.luukkonen(a)softability.fi