Use of smart glasses in maintenance, inspection and monitoring operations. 15th Technical conferences about maintenance in the Power Industry, Oviedo, Spain, October 2017

27/02/2018

    In the wake of the internet boom and recent IT developments such as cloud computing, the expanded range of mobile devices on the market – tablets, smartphones and, more recently, wearables – has facilitated the development and implementation of Applus+ Norcontrol’s mobility strategy (Mobility Norcontrol).

    “Mobility Norcontrol” is a new concept that involves working with and providing services based on mobile and wearable technologies. It is characterised by:
     
    • Complete operational mobility and connectivity
    • Collection of field data using mobile and wearable devices
    • User-friendly interfaces
    • Instant data transferral to our systems and databases
    • Error-free data transcription
    • Single upload of client, system, team and other data
    • Data unity and integrity
    • Systems developed with our technicians and clients in mind
    • Selective information sharing with the client
    • New ways of providing services using mobile technologies
     
    Virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and smart glasses
     
    Virtual reality and augmented reality are increasingly being applied in an industrial context. In particular, the use of AR through smart glasses offers an interesting way of providing hands-free access to contextual information regarding the system under investigation – information that has been optimised for workers in that plant.
     
    Sectors including healthcare, logistics, engineering and construction are already putting these devices to use in countless ways.
     
    This technology offers improvements in certain key areas:
     
    • Communication and collaboration: smart glasses, whether involving AR or VR applications, can enhance and enrich personal interactions, changing how a company and its staff share information and take action
    • Training and simulation: AR or VR components can be added to enhance training courses and this technology can also be used, where required, to create simulation environments
    • Contextual information for plant personnel: using mobile AR devices, workers can access specific information relating to the tasks they are undertaking or the contexts in which they are working
    • Remote supervision and support for plant staff: through these glasses, experts at a distance can see what field technicians are seeing and provide them with step-by-step instructions as they carry out maintenance work
     
    Potential benefits of smart glasses:
     
    • Lower operational costs
    • Greater operational efficiency
    • Enhanced productivity
    • Improved health and safety
    • Reduction in routine tasks or those with no added value
    • Remote in-service inspections
    • Increased on-the-job learning
     
    Pilot project on the use of smart glasses for inspection and maintenance tasks
     
    The Division launched a pilot project to test the viability and applicability of this technology in a range of contexts. This project set out to assess multiple factors including connectivity, autonomy, data usage, camera resolution, etc.
     
    In addition to providing a technical evaluation, the project assessed the technology’s fitness for purpose from an organisational and management perspective.
     
    Initial findings suggest that, despite the technology’s early stage of development, the future is bright for smart glasses. This is from both a hardware and a software perspective as well as in terms of their interoperability and connectivity with other applications and with the back-end databases of the companies to which the information they generate is destined.