Remote troubleshooting by an expert? Performing maintenance work with instructions given by AR glasses? Training employees in a safe environment using simulations? That’s all possible – thanks to 5G and the mixed reality solutions of innovative startups such as OverIT.

The production hall is a hive of activity, machines are running and production is in full swing. Suddenly, a critical system fails. An electrical control panel that steers operations of a tube bending machine indicates an error status. The control panel has an IoT sensor-based diagnostics system that detects outages of important components. The next step is to select the correct procedure for troubleshooting. What now?

This disruption does not fluster the responsible field service technician. They grab one of the company’s augmented reality (AR) glasses, put them on and open the relevant knowledge database, which contains not only manuals and the most important checklists, but also data sheets, photos, videos and 3D models. Thanks to the 5G network, within seconds the documents are uploaded to the glasses from the cloud-based web app and are now available to the technician offline. A scenario that could take several hours with conventional data lines.

What follows feels like a scene from Star Trek: The service technician starts the maintenance process by voice command. Using a checklist displayed on the glasses, they can search for the source of the problem step by step, again just using voice commands such as «navigate back» or «select item one» – keeping their hands free to use tools and replacement parts at all times. Thanks to the digitally displayed manual, they find the problem in no time. Pump 2 has failed.

Real-time instructions from experts

The glasses now instruct them to start the pump manually. Since this does not work and the available instructions do not describe this particular problem, the service technician decides to consult an expert to be on the safe side. They don’t even have to pick up a phone or wait for the expert to arrive. The technician simply talks to the expert via a video call using the smart collaboration tool integrated into the AR glasses. This gives the expert the same view of the system as the service technician, helping them guide the technician through the steps required to resolve the issue in real time. Both the service technician and the expert have the option of sharing content such as 3D designs, photos and videos. The expert can also precisely mark components. In this way they guide the service technician directly to the source of the problem in a way that minimizes errors and ensures the safety of employees.

Cutting costs while training employees at the same time

The situation described above, which might sound like a scene from a science fiction movie to some, is already a reality for some industrial companies – thanks to innovative startups such as OverIT, whose Space 1 software solution is used for this very purpose. It allows industrial companies to handle their maintenance processes in a much more efficient manner. There is no need to wait and see when an expert might be available, and these experts don’t have to travel either, which in turn reduces the downtime of the machines. Unplanned downtimes represent the largest cost factor in manufacturing. Minimizing downtime is one of the biggest achievements of Industry 4.0. Additional work processes, such as installation, assembly, inspection and quality checks, can also be organized more efficiently with AR.

The use of AR also helps solve some of the problems that arise from an increasing shortage of skilled workers. This is because employees do not necessarily have to be specialists in a certain field to overcome challenges – after all, experts are also on hand to support them remotely. The AR glasses also offer another advantage: Employees can learn from real-life situations and record all steps in the process as well, if relevant. The collected data is analyzed using artificial intelligence and later made available to other employees so that they can learn from their colleagues’ experiences. In addition, AR glasses help businesses simulate a range of situations. This allows employees to practice scenarios in a safe environment and prepare for an emergency.

Experience the benefits for yourself

In order to give other industrial companies the opportunity to witness the benefits of maintenance supported by AR glasses, OverIT has set up a test environment in the 5G Joint Innovation Center (JIC) run by Sunrise UPC and Huawei. Here, all interested parties can gain their own experience with the solution, receiving an in-depth introduction by an advisor on site as well, if requested.

The JIC infrastructure provides the best possible visitor experience. To name an example: A stable 5G network ensures that collaboration with experts takes place without delays, pictures are transmitted in high resolution thanks to the high bandwidths and the participants are guided smoothly through all processes thanks to low latencies.

The bundle for success

5G is also a crucial factor outside of test environments, in the industrial enterprises that choose to use AR collaboration solutions. Why is it crucial? For all the reasons mentioned above, but also because service technicians could quickly be beyond their depth in unexpected emergencies with just the manuals that are available offline. In these cases, they can still access a range of other manuals. But these need to be accessed online from anywhere and within seconds – we are talking about an emergency situation, after all. Whenever complex problems arise, it is possible to connect with multiple service technicians and experts at the same time. This multi-user scenario is made possible by a powerful 5G mobile network with download speeds of up to 2 Gbit/s.

5G AR Field Service Kit

To reap the full benefits of both a stable mobile network and the advantages of AR technology, businesses are well advised to rely on well-connected partners such as Sunrise UPC and OverIT, who are working hand in hand to offer customers the best possible experience. They offer an attractive 5G AR Field Service Kit to achieve this goal. The bundle consists of cutting-edge AR glasses, a 5G hotspot incl. SIM card for high-performance data transmission and a software license for SPACE 1 from OverIT.

Do you want to find out more about simplifying your daily business with AR-based collaboration solutions? Then contact one of our advisors or book a non-binding appointment at the 5G Joint Innovation Center.

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