Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence applied to Industry 4.0: "It is an added value, both on a personal level and for the company"



Within the scope of SINATRA, a set of solutions based on Augmented Reality (AR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) and directed to Industry 4.0 is being developed. SINATRA - or Smart Industrial maiNtenance through AugmenTed ReAlity - is a project developed in partnership by FhP-AICOS, Empresa de Águas do Município do Porto, EM (CMPEA), PLASTAZE - Plásticos de Azeméis S.A. and led by Glartek.

Recently, two studies have been carried out at the premises of partner Plastaze using Glarvision, a software application for process digitalization that includes AR. In the first study, the participants tested GlarVision with smartphones and also a Computer Vision module to automatically read manometer values while in the second study, the participants tested GlarVision with AR glasses (Hololens 2). Both studies aimed to assess how the use of these technologies is compared to current practice in preventive maintenance made by operators. Each study was implemented for two weeks and included 12 participants.

Participants that had no experience in performing the maintenance plan reported that AR were of great help to guide them into the tasks. Positive feedback was also obtained when using the smart glasses (Study 2) with the participants referring to having a more pleasant experience, especially when reported a lack of experience with smartphones. Regarding the computer vision module, all participants shared that the system was as easy to use as taking a picture, thanks to the feature that automatically scans the values from the manometers. It was also highlighted that the solution allows an overview of all the machines, and which require maintenance.

As part of the study, the participants gave their feedback on the experience. "It was positive, it helped to remember the execution of the maintenance of the machines", "I liked it, it was new, everything was different", and "It is an added value, both on a personal level and for the company", were some of the comments from participants. 

Combining the know-how and competences in the areas of Human-Centred Design, Intelligent Systems and Connected Things, FhP-AICOS was responsible for the optimization of Human-Machine interaction with AR as well as the development of the computer vision module.

The development of a hybrid AR solution which takes advantage of Augmented Reality and promotes the interface through a smartphone or tablet to inform and optimize processes is one of the initially proposed outcomes. The second objective was to develop a set of computer vision modules to be integrated in the mobile application to facilitate the recognition of equipment, allow the automatic reading of digital and analog manometers and, finally, to ensure that the acquired images to validate the field evidence have quality. 

Focused on the benefits and potential AR and AI technologies, the SINATRA project emerged in early 2021 with the aim of providing new insights and developing a support solution for the Industry 4.0. This project will allow the consortium to combine the knowledge between the different technical and scientific valences to develop an innovative, robust and versatile solution, able to streamline and facilitate industrial preventive and corrective processes.


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