Remote Assistance solutions
Augmented Reality Industry 4.0 Innovation Manufacturing Engineering Strategy Technology

Remote assistance: what benefits and what solutions?

Remote assistance is no longer just a good option, but a valid opportunity as well.

In fact, globalization and new digital technologies have been transforming our approach to work for many years now:

  • if suppliers and customers were previously located within a radius of kilometers, with globalization the need to move to different countries and continents becomes increasingly frequent;
  • therefore, it is necessary to communicate in different languages;
  • due to the high competitiveness in each sector, reaction times to changes and / or any anomalies become fundamental;
  • being competitive means reducing costs and at the same time improving the offer.

For these reasons, it is important to take advantage of all the opportunities that new technologies offer to transform challenges into new opportunities.

Remote assistance is undoubtedly a real opportunity, and today more than ever at low cost.

There are several areas in which remote assistance offers many advantages in the industrial field. At least 5 are shown below:

  • Installation and start of new plants;
  • Assistance and maintenance of existing plants;
  • On-the-job training and reskilling of personnel;
  • Roll-out, i.e. extension of continuous improvement activities on different production sites;
  • Assistance to the operator in case of process anomalies.

Remote Assistance: how?

There are basically 2 complementary ways:
  • Through the creation of work instructions in digital format;
  • Through the use of smart devices to receive assistance in real time.
Below we will briefly see what these two solutions consist of and what advantages they entail.

Digital Work Instructions

These are instructions that can be created and used using portable and / or wearable devices. Sometimes also called “paperless”, digital work instructions offer several advantages, including:
  • use of multimedia files to improve the effectiveness of the instructions (video, photos, audio);
  • use of portable digital media (smartphone, tablet, smart glass);
  • multilingual support, i.e. immediate translation of instructions;
  • data recording and archiving, when required;
  • univocal traceability of the implemented changes;
  • time tracking for each operation;
  • possibility of feedback through comments by the user to improve the instructions;
  • usually supplied in the Cloud, therefore without the need for installation and maintenance costs at the company server.
Cloud solutions have existed on the market for years (SaaS) or the so-called traditional “on-premise” solutions, that is, they can be installed on your company server. Cloud solutions offer further advantages over the latter:
  • They are often cheaper;
  • They offer a more versatile service model;
  • It does not require a corporate server, therefore:
    • greater reliability and safety;
    • lower investment and management costs.

Wearable devices

The second way is to use portable and wearable devices to receive real-time assistance from a remote operator. These devices basically include smartphones and tablets on the one hand, and smart glasses on the other.

The benefits associated with the use of the first type are the following:

  • Cost-effectiveness, i.e. the solution can be implemented on any smart device;
  • Usability, as by means of AR it is possible to visually indicate the information on the monitor by means of pointers;
  • Video recording, which can be used for information storage and subsequent implementation of work instructions;
  • Positioning by GPS, if required;
  • QR code scanning;
  • Push notifications;
  • Screen sharing;
  • Text and voice translation.

In addition, with the use of a Smart Glass:

  • users have hands free during assistance;
  • the assistant constantly receives the point of view of the operator in the field;

Obviously, the latter solution involves a greater investment, depending on the models of smart glasses used.

As stated before, also in this case there are many different solutions on the market, technically similar, but often different by business model and therefore by type of service offered.

What is the best solution?

The choice of one solution over the other is never trivial. In fact, the solutions available on the market are such that it is necessary to identify the most suitable one based on the specific needs of use and the available budget. Furthermore, to objectively choose the most appropriate solution, it is necessary to make use of typical tools of product development, such as the prioritization matrix: assigning a specific weight to each requirement and a value associated with each solution on the basis of a table of requirements, we will identify the most correct solution to our need.

Where to start?

The first thing to define are the project requirements. In fact, very often we are the first not to be clear about what we want.

Only then can the most appropriate solution be sought in the market:

  • doing research on the web
  • attending trade fairs
  • by contacting experienced professionals

If you want to learn more about new 4.0 technologies and how to apply them, we recommend our course “The key technologies if Industry 4.0” you can find on our catalogue.

Stay tuned!

Nicola Accialini

Hi there! I am Nicola, founder and admin of SkillS4i. Aerospace Engineer, technology enthusiast and industrial expert. I live in Spain and I like travelling, cycling, hiking and reading.

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