The new mobile frontier of service and maintenance


In the last months, Italpresse Gauss, leader in the sector of die casting and gravity die casting, today member of Norican Group, together with Wonderware, part of Schneider Electric and for some years strategic partner of Italpresse Gauss, has developed «a-me interactive assistant», the new mobile frontier of maintenance and service.

Since its origin, HMe, supervision, monitoring and control system of die casting machines, had been developed also in the «mobile» version for the installation on tablet. The portability function on mobile device, however, has resulted in its maximum potentiality thanks to the development of the application for Windows called «A-Me» and to the use of the most innovative technologies of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. A-Me is in fact a system of interactive tele-service and guided maintenance support, able to guide operators step by step during maintenance or failure investigation operations, as well as to indicate quickly the troubleshooting procedures, i.e. of failure solving. The concepts on which AMe has been developed mirror the same of HMe:
– same graphic interface, very simple and intuitive;
– limited number of menu buttons;
– information presentation with «top down» approach (synthesis presentation from which you enter in intuitive and correlated manner the underlying detail, as in current surfing and consultation procedures on the Web).

Interactive service and guided maintenance
Users, after framing with the tablet the part of the machine for which they are asking for service, through a video call, will be supported step by step by the Italpresse-Gauss operator in the troubleshooting activity. The operator connects the tablet device with the supervision part of HMe and downloads the register of the necessary maintenance interventions. Once downloaded the register, the machine is completely reproduced on the tablet in 3D format, so that the operator can easily identify the maintenance operations to be executed and gain access to the relative PDF documentation in interactive and guided modality. Besides, the application integrates augmented reality technologies to guide operators in the most critical maintenances. Framing the component on which the maintenance procedure must be performed, the users can see virtual objects superimposed to the real image; such items guide the user in simple and unequivocal manner along all the steps of the maintenance procedure, superimposing tools to be used and highlighting intervention points, showing how to manage the various elements that are involved in the maintenance procedure. Through a video pushbutton, it is also possible to switch at any time from the augmented reality visualization to the virtual reality one, to allow the operator to lay down the tablet while he is physically executing the activity, going on, however, visualizing the procedure step.
A-Me allows:
– an exploration of the virtual machine shape, with additional information in real time coming from HMe, and consequent easy access to the documentation of components;
– an interconnection with HMe maintenance register and facilitated guide for the operator, to complete the maintenance operations required also thanks to Augmented and Virtual Reality;
– an interconnection with the list of HMe alarms, facilitated guide for the operator up to the component that generates the alarm and interactive connection with the relative documentation dedicated to the problem solving;
– a remote interactive video assistance.
The virtual 3D shape of the machine is available for an interactive experience that allows discovering where the components are and shows the most important work and maintenance information in real time. The required maintenances are detected by the connection via WiFi of HMe and highlighted on the component. Maintenance operations are guided by step-by-step Augmented Reality procedures that superimpose instructions to real images.
Alarms are detected via WiFi by HMe system and highlighted on the component in Virtual Reality. An emergency video call is always available on the menu: Italpresse-Gauss service technicians can guide the operator, sharing the machine vision in real time. The A-Me application, now provided for tablet, is fully compatible with migration on Hololens, the glasses for mixed reality by Microsoft. In the next future, when glasses with Hololens technology suiting an industrial environment will be available, the applications will be at disposal also on this support, thus permitting operators to have their hands free while they are receiving all support information.

The hme system: everything under control in aware and rational manner
At the beginning it was HMe, an innovative tool for the supervision, monitoring and control of die casting machines based on solutions by Wonderware, brand of Schneider Electric and strategic partner of Italpresse-Gauss, integrated on all machines since 2015. In terms of hardware, the HMe system is installed on an industrial PC with Windows 7 operating system, with PLC Siemens S7 and the structure with remote inputs/outputs for a streamlined and more easily maintained plant engineering. Safety aspects are managed by Pilz Pnoz Multi, connected to the PLC via Profibus. The system software has allowed increased focusing on useful information, a rational reorganization of items in pages, the choice of their positioning and purposely scarcely striking colours, to point out better the information of interest, besides a surfing that goes from the summary to the detail in simple and rational way, to attain information in a glance. To keep under control the operational status of the machine and of its peripherals, the data exchange occurs on Sql database and the access to information is simpler and more intuitive, because they are distributed in rational way inside the pages, starting from the various colours that make them immediately visible. Not fortuitously, it is in fact defined «Situational Awareness», i.e. the «awareness of what is happening», so determinant in automated and complex plants: the possibility for the operator of understanding immediately the system status through the efficient application design.
Hme in short:
– simple and intuitive interface;
– visualization of injection curves with millisecond detail and historicizing on the same chart of other magnitudes detected by the plant for an immediate understanding of the operation situations;
– data collection and their integrated use to provide immediate information of synthesis and further detail about the plant, also to generate detailed reports;
– full integration of the peripherals of the work isle with integration of data and of operator interface.