Industry 4.0 is generating massive amounts of data that are increasingly difficult to handle. But production workers won’t even notice once they glance at a multitouch table that immediately identifies any disruptions to production, with a look at all the manufacturing machines and the entire factory building.
The ongoing Fourth Industrial Revolution in factory buildings relies on large numbers of sensors that monitor production. These sensors make manufacturing plants, equipment and production processes intelligent. For all of this to work, however, it is not enough to merely generate and evaluate sensor data. It must also be possible for plant workers to understand the data quickly before responding appropriately.
It has traditionally been necessary to evaluate each individual set of production-planning and production-management data, system by system. However, with the Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics Research IGD Plant@Hand3D system all key sets of production data can be evaluated in a single application.
“Our system allows users to intuitively access production data,” said Dr Mario Aehnelt from Fraunhofer IGD. The pivotal feature of the system is a 3D model of the production plant on an interactive multitouch table. Production workers use the screen to manage all types of data. Hand and finger gestures allow them to zoom in on a specific machine, or look at an overview of production data from a specific plant.
The system allows production managers to always have a comprehensive overview of production and efficiently plan and manage plant operations. It also allows managers to assign tasks to workers more systematically. Furthermore, it immediately detects any lack of materials or interruptions in production processes.
Individual production workers can also benefit as they can use screens in production areas or tablet computers at their workstations to view all the information they need as well as enter or collect production data. Production staff can also integrate their smart watches into the information chain.
Now on exhibition in Germany, the multitouch table can portray a production plant in 3D and draw attention to a malfunctioning machine. Visitors can interactively redirect the flow of production and access every piece of production data — or select a product and check its manufacturing status. They can also let the system display which manufacturing steps are still required and which machine will execute the next step.
Image caption: Plant@Hand3D is a standalone solution for all key production data to help managers see the big picture.