Predictive maintenance: Latest tools

27 May 2018

At Drives & Controls 2018 Mitsubishi Electric presented a cloud-based predictive maintenance solution supported by the AI platform within IBM Watson and implemented with voice control and AR features. The company says this innovation shows how interconnected, intelligent systems can maximise responsiveness, productivity and plant control while reducing costs and downtime. 

Mitsubishi Electric’s approach to proactive maintenance is based on machine usage and wear characteristics. At the event, a working example was used to show how it can monitor the status of a robot with an AI analysis platform, supported by IBM Watson Analytics in the Cloud. This software combines predictive maintenance models, digital simulation, prediction and extrapolation of trends to give easy access to accurate advice on status and the right action to take.

Machine data analytics is useless if not associated with an appropriate communication system that informs the human operator about the condition of the robot. Therefore, an AR interface has been developed to ensure a useful conversation can be had between humans and robots. 

The operator can initiate contact and easily visualise the predictive maintenance analytics and monitor the robot while walking past using a tablet computer. Users can even receive maintenance information or run hands-free operations on the machine via voice commands. The robot can also report the status of a task verbally. 

Once the AR platform is enabled, smart glasses can be used to manage and conduct maintenance works. Through them, human operators can receive information, such as CAD drawings superimposed on the robot, and receive guidance on issues or tasks to perform, e.g. via maintenance manuals or specific instructions.