Friday, November 10, 2017

Communication support service!

Yokogawa is rolling out the SensPlus™Buddy communication support service. With this solution, personnel in the field will enjoy access to support information directly from their mobile devices.

Photo with handwritten instruction
SensPlus Buddy can be accessed using a standard web browser on any general-purpose mobile device or personal computer, and does not require the installation of software. With this web-based service, users can easily make video calls and make use of augmented reality (AR) technology to transmit easy-to-visualise image and text data. SensPlus Buddy will improve maintenance efficiency and the quality of field work.

Development Background
As plants come to rely on ever more sophisticated and complex systems that enable the integrated management of multiple production facilities, production efficiency improves. At the same time, it is becoming increasingly difficult to identify the causes of failures and malfunctions in plant facilities, making maintenance a complex task. Furthermore, as an increasing number of skilled engineers reach mandatory retirement age, there is an urgent need to hire and train maintenance personnel.

Industrial IoT (IIoT) is seen as one means of making up shortages of plant maintenance staff and assisting with the training of personnel. With IIoT, a system can be built that enables relatively inexperienced engineers to perform maintenance with the same efficiency and quality as more knowledgeable and experienced engineers. However, many manufacturers have hesitated to introduce such systems because of concerns about network security and the difficulty and cost of adding new infrastructure. To address this issue, Yokogawa has developed the SensPlus Buddy communication support service. With this service, users can visually transmit maintenance information to personnel in the field.

Product Features
The SensPlus Buddy communication support service can be accessed wherever it is possible to use an Internet-connected mobile device. Its features are as follows:

1. Easy to introduce/Easy to use
SensPlus Buddy is a cloud-based service. As such, it does not require the installation of special hardware or software, and only a standard Internet connection is needed. It can run on any general-purpose mobile device or personal computer that has a web browser installed. For maximum security, access is strictly controlled by a user authentication system, and communication is only allowed between users in specified groups.

SensPlus Buddy supports video calls, the sharing of image files, such as a screenshot taken during a video call, or when viewing a manual, and the overlay of instructions on images, and these functions can be easily accessed and used on any kind of mobile device.

2. Real-time sharing of data 
Engineering experts and support staff can make video calls to share images and other data in real time with personnel in the field. Thanks to the service’s support of AR technology, support staff can write easy-to-understand instructions on photos that have been taken on site and send them back to personnel in the field.

3. Obtaining information required in the field
When a maintenance worker in the field needs to see information about a control system, or information from a document such as an operation manual, support staff in the central control room can send images of subjects such as a control system console screen or photos of specific pages in a document. Both sender and receiver can inscribe messages on the images.


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Yokogawa believes that AR technology can help solve the problem of human error. By combining this technology with mobile technology, which has been rapidly advancing in recent years, and by using this in manufacturing plants, Yokogawa aims to reduce human error and improve the safety and efficiency of field work. Yokogawa labels this approach ‘Industrial AR’, and is working with customers to develop and refine this technology. The SensPlus Buddy communication support service is Yokogawa’s first use of the AR technology. With the aim of introducing advanced solutions to the manufacturing sector, Yokogawa will continue its efforts to develop AR technology.

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