To improve fuel economy, all automotive OEMs have converted many of the car’s parts to lighter materials which often involves aluminum or magnesium. To make these parts in the high volumes needed for car manufacturing, automated casting machines are deployed. A key manufacturer of these machines - which are used by OEMs globally - is Italpresse Gauss located in Italy. It designs and produces a range of casting machine models with closing forces from 200 up to 4,500 tons. These machines cast a variety of parts including precision engine blocks, transmission housings, steering wheels, and much more.
Maintenance of Technically Advanced Equipment
With the lean manufacturing approach used by the automotive and other industries, interruptions in production become particularly onerous quickly. Quality problems are not tolerated, and unplanned downtime can lead to a shut-down of an assembly line with the associated lost revenues and productivity. The casting machines are complex with intricate mechanics, electronics, computer controls, and internal methods that involve advanced science. When a repair is needed, waiting for the OEM's field service technician to be scheduled and travel is rarely acceptable. How can an on-site, general-purpose maintenance technician repair and optimize this type of advanced equipment? The short answer is not well.
To help solve this maintenance dilemma, Italpresse Gauss created “AMe” which is a means for the on-site technician to consult with one of their experts in real-time using Augmented and Virtual Reality. The on-site technician points a rugged tablet at the machine which has a RFID, QR code, or another identifier. The software brings in the appropriate intelligence, and the 3D digital twin model with the custom configuration. The application layers real-time data from the machine on the video feed. It then guides the technician through diagnostics, problem isolation, and repair. If help is needed, the technician can bring-in a remote expert at Italpresse Gauss who sees the same screen and data. The remote person sees the changes made by the on-site person as they occur to then provide additional guidance through the repair steps. Instructions can be layered on the video by the remote technician that both see.
Deployed AR Technologies
The technology deployed uses the AR/VR Industrial Software Platform from AVEVA. The Italpresse Gauss machines have an operator interface using Wonderware Intouch HMI. The augmented reality system reads data from Intouch, displays it in the proper location on the video feed, and then publishes it to the screen for the remote technician(s).
This application of augmented reality allows maintenance technicians to address service requests faster and with greater efficiency, helping to reduce downtime and increase machine productivity. AMe enables much faster mean-time-to-repair (MTTR), higher first-time-fix-rate (FTFR), and improves the related uptime – all of which are key metrics for maintenance.
The field operating data collected by Italpresse Gauss over the course of providing this enhanced maintenance service can be used by design engineering to gain a deeper understanding of performance and improve future products.