Machine and Process Management

Augmented Operator Boosts Knowledge Automation

In my previous blog, we identified industrial automation trends in the Digital Transformation to Industry 4.0, which comprises three pillars: Asset Performance, Augmented Operator and Smart Control. This time, we will look at the second pillar – Augmented Operator.

Augmented Operator addresses the automation of knowledge and we need to look at this for two reasons – one is that as the current generation of skilled operators and engineers gradually retires, we need to automate their knowledge in order not to lose their industry know-how. The other reason is that it is commonly accepted that operators may take up half their time looking for information for their work.

Augmented operator

Reducing Headcount

Augmented Operator allows operators to become both more efficient and more effective, and some tasks performed by two operators may then be performed by one single operator because of this new digital technology. This is not a futuristic view of what might be, but of what is actually happening today.

One concrete example is where large complex machinery is involved. The operator panel or Human Machine Interface (HMI) for visualizing parameters of the machinery may be fixed at one end, in which case it may be necessary to have a second operator to inspect the machinery from the other end.

Providing a clone of the operator panel on a low-cost portable tablet may allow an operator to carry out an inspection that would otherwise have to be performed by a second operator.

Another concrete example is the calibration of assets in regulated markets, which usually requires two operators: one managing the calibration and another certifying it was done. A tablet can be used as a certifier when properly managed.

Taking one specific end user example in the oil and gas industry, a cloud engineering environment allows our engineers, clients and partners to collaborate across multiple global locations on projects from design through to pre-delivery to the client and factory acceptance test.

Mobility tools empower operator autonomy with the right information, at the right time, to the right user for better interaction with the industrial environment while enabling faster commissioning and troubleshooting.

Augmented reality overlays real-time data in industrial applications, while downtime prevention avoids costly production stoppages by allowing operators to see inside a machine without opening a cabinet door.

Having covered the first two transformation pillars in the last couple of blogs, in the next blog, we will look at the third pillar – Smart Control. This is the glue that holds together controlled elements from wired sensors and actuators through to Enterprise business-management software.

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