The manufacturing industry has a heavy reliance on manual and paperbased processes, homegrown applications, and legacy systems that are, for the most part, obsolete by even the most forgiving standards. However, it’s all about to change. The industry is going mobile, and with good reason. With mobile applications using augmented reality and beyond, there are many possibilities to increase productivity and employee efficiency. But what exactly are those tangible benefits? 1. Saved Downtime. One of the biggest pain points in a manufacturing plant is unplanned downtime. Maintenance staff can waste a lot of critical time leaving the plant floor to find resources in order to troubleshoot and correct the issue. Mobile solutions allow employees to have all of the relevant resources available right at the equipment, allowing them to quickly locate and analyze the problem. Trying to identify the part of the machine that requires attention will no longer be an issue. There are now solutions, which can identify and direct workers to the specific part that requires attention. Production downtime costs are often measured in hundreds or thousands of dollars per minute. These costs are multiplied when workers are unfamiliar with the equipment and must constantly refer back to documents in order to identify where a specific part. The time to react to a production downtime event can be significantly reduced by implementing a mobile solution. 2. Improved Communications. With mobile solutions deployed on the plant floor, communication time is greatly improved. There are apps available to easily capture necessary information and send it to the appropriate destinations. Not only can this improve communication time, but also result in more accurate communications. Fewer mistakes are made when the technology is doing the work. Mobile solutions using augmented reality can provide visual communication tools to provide users and remote resources with a common, real time view of the equipment or process. It can also provide the ability to immediately show the problem to a remote technician using an augmented video, alleviating the need for the technician to travel onsite. 3. Smoother Operations. For example, using mobile applications that utilize augmented reality creates a smooth process for maintenance on plant floor machines. With new advancements in mobile solutions, employees will now be able to change the way they report safety and production issues. The technology will allow users to “show” these kinds of issues to the maintenance resources rather than trying to explain them in a written report. Mobile apps will include features for creating augmented realityenhanced recordings of plant floor issues, which could include live video or a snapshot, overlaid with relevant process data, audio, and onscreen notes. These advances will take much less time than manually filling out a form, and will be more efficient in terms of communicating a problem to the maintenance or engineering staff who will then have to correct the issue. Mobile solutions are being developed for just about every industry. Manufacturing and warehousing is an industry, which deals with a large amount of data and technical machinery, so manufacturing IT clients can benefit greatly from deploying mobile solutions throughout their plant. Improving the operations on the plant floor will ultimately save massive amounts of time and money.
Bob Meads has a diverse technology-based background which began when he joined the Navy in 1984. As an Electronics Technician serving aboard submarines and various surface vessels, Bob worked on inertial navigation systems, RADAR, HF communication systems and cryptographic equipment. Bob’s Navy career was highlighted with several performance awards, culminating in being named Surface Forces Atlantic Fleet Sailor of The Year for 1990. After the Navy, Bob became a production engineer at NEC Technologies in McDonough, GA, a manufacturer of computer monitors and external CD-ROM drives. Bob served as group leader for 12 electronic technicians and became involved in defining manufacturing processes and production testing for the MultiSync series computer monitors and external CD-ROM drives.
Bob left NEC in 1994 to pursue a newfound interest in developing software, receiving a BS in Computer Science and Electronic Technology from Georgia Southwestern State University in Americus, GA. He then took a position at Siemens Energy and Automation in Alpharetta, GA working with new Windows-based Human Machine Interface (HMI) development software called WinCC. When the position moved to New Jersey, Bob started his first company, iQuest, in 1998, as an HMI and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) Consultant and automation integrator. Today, Bob still runs iQuest, and has started a new company, iQagent, Inc., a mobile software company whose goal is to provide applications and software for the plant floor. Their flagship product, iQagent, is a “practical Augmented Reality“ product that helps companies reduce costs by providing instant access to resources based on equipment it recognizes in manufacturing and process environments.