What is Remote Maintenance and how can your industry use it?

The basic definition of remote maintenance means that computer systems can be supervised and controlled from a remote location. This is done by placing software on local systems, that can be accessed from other locations.

Often these systems work through an internet connection, although the software can also conduct local analysis, determine both critical and non-critical situations, and send feedback for preventive measures.

AR remote maintenance adds an audiovisual method of system analysis and employee assistance during maintenance tasks. On this page, we will explain how augmented reality can enhance decentralized services for a wide range of organizations.

Local operations

The core of remote maintenance is the organization that is in need of maintenance, not the service provider that works remotely. This usually applies to processes that are conducted using computerized hardware and software, with some sort of connectivity.

It could be a computer terminal that operates the lights in an entire building, a PC used for administrative purposes, or a machine on a factory floor with a central processing unit. Virtually every machine is equipped with some sort of software, and often these devices are connected. In order to make sure the machines and devices keep operating, several fail-safe measures have to be taken.

For instance spyware and virus scanners, factory reset options, or up-to-date backup images so data will not be lost. Many of these operations are done automatically with locally installed software, some tasks are performed manually by trained employees. For advanced assistance and operations, remote maintenance can be used in various ways.

Network management

Some maintenance can be conducted locally, however more advanced tasks require more expertise or custom solutions. This requires network interoperability, both locally and decentralized systems and service providers.

Internally there will be an intranet solution in place, external services will operate through an internet connection. These services are typically called ‘cloud services’, which applies to all digital services that are passed through various internet channels.

It should be obvious that security plays an important factor in maintaining a safe and functional environment, every system that is connected to another device will be vulnerable.

This also applies to local networks, for instance, USB drives that are used on company computers. For remote maintenance, network management is imperative to provide a safe and reliable method of controlling computerized systems, in which the right balance between smart software and knowledgeable experts should be present.

Augmented reality

The basic explanation of augmented reality is an overlay of digital information on top of the actual environment. Let’s take a warehouse employee as an example. An order picker wears a pair of AR glasses that displays the correct row in the warehouse.

While riding an EPT the wearable device clearly shows arrows that guide the employee through the warehouse to the correct position. Upon reaching the destination the built-in camera is used to scan the product bar-code, the worker can use both hands for the order picking because all AR actions are conducted either by voice or image recognition.

AR glasses function like virtual assistants using both audible and visual cues for the user. Some of these features are available offline, while others require an active internet connection.

For instance AR remote maintenance, where augmented reality devices are used to analyze and control the infrastructure. In this case both the human aspect as the online connectivity play an important part in the equation.

AR remote maintenance

The word ‘remote’ can be interpreted in various ways. It typically means ‘not on the actual location’, this means expertise is brought in from another place. This could be a local expert who works from an office, or a specialist working from outside the actual facilities.

This knowledgeable person can be an employee of the company or a third-party service provider. There are several ways AR remote maintenance can be used for industrial purposes, here are a couple of examples:

1. A maintenance worker is set out to fix an elevator. During the trip to the location, the worker looks up information about this specific model and the revision history on an AR headset, like the Realwear HMT-1. Once on the scene, the technician examines the elevator and runs into some issues.

The wiring is not connected according to the standard procedure. The worker contacts the main office and asks for information about how to proceed. The colleague can look up information and guide the on-site technician through the process.

2. A system in a high-risk area of factory malfunctions. One operator is able to reach the location, but due to safety issues, it’s not possible for an expert to reach this location. The operator makes an audiovisual connection with the expert and shows the situation at hand.

This is possible because the AR device is equipped with a microphone and a camera. This microphone works two ways, so the operator and the expert can communicate one-on-one. The expert guides the operator through the process so the malfunction can be resolved.

It’s not important where the expert is located. This could be in the same building or in another country. As long as an audiovisual connection can be established the ad hoc team can execute the task at hand.

AR remote maintenance offers a new perspective on decentralized management of hardware, software and the workforce, with considerable benefits for the industrial sector.

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