24 Jul 2024

AUTOMATION FOR MANUFACTURING

AR app shows machine data on a phone or tablet

At the SM&E Week show in the UK, Sick demonstrated the Sara app displaying data and diagnostics from sensors and encoders

Sick has unveiled an augmented reality (AR) app that merges machine, sensor and diagnostic information with images of a real environment to show machine data and errors where they are occurring. The Sara (Sick Augmented Reality Assistant) app takes data from any source, maps it into an AR engine and displays it on a tablet or smartphone, without needing costly devices such as headsets or fixed HMIs. It overlays the information on a view of the machine, showing operating data or where maintenance is needed.

The app displays the data and errors at the location where they occur, helping to accelerate commissioning, diagnostics, condition monitoring and maintenance. It allows shopfloor staff to diagnose faults and monitor the performance of their machines.

Sick believes that the app could help to tackle skills shortages by allowing both new and experienced workers to carry out tasks such as machine monitoring and basic maintenance.

The app can gather data from devices such as PLCs, gateways or sensors (either from Sick or from third parties). They communicate with the app via MQTT. A Sick server processes and formats the data and displays it on a mobile device (iOS or Android) overlaid on a view of the machine captured via the device’s camera.

Among other things, the app can show: diagnostic information (in text or numeric values); labelled lines and arrows; 3D point clouds; cubic volumes; cones; and hyperlinks to documents or sites.

The app can display data such as: motor temperatures; PLC loads; vibration analyses; and liquid levels and flow rates. It can also show traffic light (good/bad) indicators.

Sick has worked with Universal Robots to collect data from its cobots for use in the Sara app.

The sensor-maker launched the app at the recent Smart Factory Expo 2024 exhibition in the UK, including a demonstration which showed data from various sensing devices (load detection, line guidance, height measurement, safety laser scanners and barcode readers) being used to enhance the safety and performance of AGVs. Another demo showcased the vertical integration of smart encoders and sensors.

“Sara is a unique application, blending data visualisation with the real environment and delivering it via the technology you have in your pocket,” says Sick UK’s data solutions consultant, Charlie Walker. “Using Sara, teams can reduce the risk of outages, increase machine availability and boost productivity by ensuring equipment is performing optimally.

He adds that the app “can be used to bring employees up to speed quickly with equipment, to regularly monitor machines and to enhance safety. Codes can be scanned and linked to relevant documentation to provide access to critical information where and when it is needed.”

A Sara licence costs upwards of around £1,000 in the UK. Sick has created various licences (including LiDar and robotics variants, in addition to a base licence) that unlock functions to allow users to customise the app for their uses. There are plans to develop more specialist licences in the future.

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