New App makes Process Data available on Smartphones

Softec has developed an app for surface finishers a that can display maintenance and plant information is directly where it is needed and there is no need to install physical monitors in a harsh production environment.

the Softec Augmented Reality (AR) app for finishing companies.
The software company Softec has developed an innovative app for surface finishers as part of the SmARtPlaS (Smart Augmented Reality Plating Services) research project. Picture: softec

In this way, users in industrial finishing production envirmonets can view important plant information, machine statuses and bath analyses virtually in passing. This means that digital elements are inserted into the real environment in real time. 

Visualisation through AR can be compared to head-up displays in cars: Depending on what is in the field of vision, the information displayed changes directly in the user’s field of vision. This natural form of display with AR is supported by common smartphones. On the display of the smartphone, the current camera image is expanded with data panels on which, for example, process data is superimposed.

No fixed monitors necessary

Not everywhere in production are monitors available via which information can be displayed. AR is a practical tool that provides information even where there are no screens. Instead of real monitors, AR uses the superimposed data panels for this purpose, i.e. virtual screens, so to speak.

The new app developed as part of the SmARtPlaS (Smart Augmented Reality Plating Services) research project funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research can display these data panels in production with the help of Augemnted Reality. For this purpose, anchor points can be set in this environment to which the data boards are “attached”. Corresponding data is supplied via the connection to the ERP system.

Production data on mobile phone display

In practice, this works as follows: When an employee stands in front of a plant with a mobile phone, he starts the app and it shows the camera image of the mobile phone with the relevant plant data directly above the plant. Before a pre-treatment, for example, the app can display a wide variety of information such as bath composition and temperature curves in exactly the right place. No special hardware is required for the AR app; it runs on a standard smartphone. It offers even more application possibilities: The training of new employees, indoor navigation or safety training with marking of escape routes and fire extinguishers.

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