Yokogawa Introduces AR-based Communication Support Service to Improve Facility Maintenance

By Shin Kai

Company and Product News

Yokogawa Electric Corporation announced that it will be rolling out the SensPlus Buddy communication support service on November 10. With this solution, personnel in the field will enjoy access to support information from their mobile devices.

SensPlus Buddy can be accessed using a standard web browser on any general-purpose mobile device or personal computer, and does not require the installation of software. With this web-based service, users can easily make video calls and make use of augmented reality (AR) technology to transmit easy-to-visualize image and text data. SensPlus Buddy will help improve maintenance efficiency and the quality of field work.

Development Background

Industrial IoT (IIoT) is seen as one means for making up for shortages of plant maintenance staff and assisting with the training of personnel. With IIoT, a system can be built that enables relatively inexperienced engineers to perform maintenance with the same efficiency and quality as more knowledgeable and experienced engineers. However, many manufacturers have hesitated to introduce such systems because of concerns about network security and the difficulty and cost of adding new infrastructure. To address this issue, Yokogawa has developed the SensPlus Buddy communication support service. With this service, users can visually transmit maintenance information to personnel in the field.

Product Features

The SensPlus Buddy communication support service can be accessed wherever it is possible to use an Internet-connected mobile device. Its features are as follows:

Easy to introduce/easy to use

SensPlus Buddy is a cloud-based service. It does not require the installation of special hardware or software, and only a standard Internet connection is needed. It can run on any general-purpose mobile device or personal computer that has a web browser installed. For maximum security, access is strictly controlled by a user authentication system, and communication is only allowed between users in specified groups.

SensPlus Buddy supports video calls, the sharing of image files, such as a screenshot taken during a video call or when viewing a manual, and the overlay of instructions on images, and these functions can be easily accessed and used on any kind of mobile device.

Real-time sharing of data

Engineering experts and other support staff can make video calls to share images and other data in real time with workers in the field. Thanks to the service's support of AR technology, support staff can write easy-to-understand instructions on photos that have been taken on site and send them back to workers in the field.

Obtaining information required in the field

When a maintenance worker in the field needs to see information about a control system or information from a document such as an operation manual, support staff in the central control room can send images of subjects such as a control system console screen or photos of specific pages in a document. Both sender and receiver can inscribe messages on the images.

Potential applications includes communication between central control room and plant personnel, or between personnel at different plants, and communication between field personnel and third parties, such as help desks of plant equipment manufacturers.

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