IFS has announced a proof of concept to deliver augmented reality solutions to A&D service engineers using Microsoft HoloLens. This is the latest technology integrated by IFS Labs into its ERP solution. The integration will allow service engineers to view IFS data superimposed upon an asset they are working on using a HoloLens screen using Microsoft HoloLens.
Will this decrease maintenance times
Yes! Engineers working using this system should be able to shave minutes of time off maintenance tasks. The tasks would previously require manuals or other information to be checked before the work was completed. The engineer can now see data relevant to the asset they are working on. This includes service history, performance analysis and temperature levels that should allow them to make rapid decisions based on the information.
The next logical step for this technology is to integrate it with the IoT data that IFS collects. In the future augmented Intelligence could propose when to replace components. This might mean that over time workers will become less skilled as their knowledge and experience is delivered by increasingly expert systems. That is difficult to determine. However, it should not only cut down maintenance time but reduce the risk of error and future failures as components are replaced before they fail.
The system is also interactive. The HoloLens camera can document the asset maintenance process, storing the information for future reference and training. For example if rarer maintenance work is recorded when carried out it can be used later for training purposes. This could be either as a demonstration to new workers or as a learning experience.
Future enhancements could also record whether the engineer carried out the task using the correct movements. Although one suspects that this is some way in the future. For now IFS only claim that the camera records. However, engineers are able to interact with HoloLens, enabling them to access items such as “work guidelines” for each task.
Next generation service management solutions
IFS believes that this is the next evolutionary step for field service management. IFS Labs director Bas de Vos commented: “We are very excited to present this proof of concept that we believe has the potential to revolutionise the way we think of field service management. By leveraging the Microsoft HoloLens, we can help service personnel navigate complex environments and access critical asset information to realise major benefits such as increased productivity and first-time fix rates. Field service management is a highly prioritised area for IFS where we have been categorised as leaders by analysts. We will keep pioneering this field with innovative solutions that provide tangible business benefits.”
IFS Labs leverages deep partnership with Microsoft.
The HoloLens work by IFS is an example of the deep partnership with Microsoft. Brandon Bray, Principal Program Manager, Microsoft HoloLens said: “We see great potential for using the mixed reality capabilities of Microsoft HoloLens with enterprise software like IFS Applications to empower field service technicians with innovative tools that boost productivity. Microsoft values the collaboration with IFS that helps expand both of our markets and creates new offerings and added value for our customers.”
Another is the work that IFS has done with the Azure IoT platform. The IFS IoT Business Connector was also developed by IFS Labs. It was integrated into its service management solution earlier this year. The initial proof of concept for that solution was the urban transport operator, Sporveien, in Olso, Norway. Their trains capture large amounts of data to deliver predictive maintenance and lower running costs. IFS did not announce where the proof of concept would be delivered but the inference from the release is in the A&D (Aerospace and Defence) sector. Turnaround times for the maintenance of aircraft is critically important and by reducing those maintenance times could save an airline or maintainer considerable sums of money.
What does it mean?
With the announcement IFS is not delivering a generally available solution. However, that the system is ready to deploy in a pilot environment will interest many firms. What will be interesting to see is whether they integrate the other solutions such as autonomous assistants to the HoloLens solution which could see another significant improvement for the A&D maintenance sector.
There was no indication of when the solution is available to the wider user base. For some the HoloLens is still a bit too expensive and futuristic. Several industries and competitors will keep a close eye of the progress made by IFS. They will want to identify whether the Swedish company has a found a significant competitive advantage in the marketplace. Others will see how quickly they can replicate the technology.