Researchers from the AMRC with Boeing and IBM have collaborated on a new system to put ‘smart mobility’ into maintenance, repairs and operations. Using a combination of augmented reality and robotics, the system brings critical information and remote expertise directly to field engineers.
The mobile maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) prototype is designed to help manufacturers and companies supplying and maintaining high-value machinery in sectors such as aerospace, oil & gas and shipping. It will help field engineers accurately locate equipment, provide them with critical information and receive real-time visual support from supervising experts based remotely.
Today, MRO tasks typically involve an engineer visiting a site, finding the right machine, and making sure they have an appropriate task sheet. If they run into difficulty, they might call for help from a remote supervisor or product expert.
The new system allows a supervisor to monitor an engineer’s progress towards the maintenance site, using GPS. Once on site, an engineer can use a smart phone and QR codes to locate and identify an asset and receive maintenance instructions.
If assistance is needed, a remote expert is able to view the on-site engineer’s workspace and support them with real-time video and audio links using a camera and a small projector mounted at the end of a remotely controlled robotic arm.
A fully working IBM MRO system has been installed at the AMRC Diamond Jubilee Knowledge Transfer Centre.
"The MRO prototype brings together two innovative IBM technologies, developed in our European research labs in Hursley and Haifa, into a single solution for our clients. It offers manufacturers the opportunity to lower their costs, provide just-in-time knowledge transfer and reduce the personal risk to engineers working in difficult environments."
Richard Lanyon-Hogg, Technical Director at IBM