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Packaging maintenance info now on a portable screenPackaging maintenance info now on a portable screen

Pan Demetrakakes

July 31, 2018

3 Min Read
Packaging maintenance info now on a portable screen
Portable packaging machinery or line controls give operators and managers access from anywhere in the facility.

Most human-machine interface (HMI) software is designed for operational management, with maintenance as an afterthought. The screens can only deliver a limited amount of information to maintenance personnel, who must look elsewhere for installation and operational instructions, manuals, diagrams and other standard information.

Schneider Electric has rolled out EcoStruxure Augmented Operator Advisor, a software package that allows end users to load maintenance information of their choosing and make it accessible to plant personnel in an augmented reality format. EcoStruxure works through image recognition: Maintenance personnel aim a tablet at a piece of equipment, triggering access points to preloaded information. It also can deliver data on machine history and current status through integration with equipment controls. Bühler AG, a manufacturer of food processing and packaging equipment, is an early adopter of EcoStruxure.

Simone Gianotti, EcoStruxure industry business development manager at Schneider Electric, spoke with Packaging Digest about EcoStruxure’s capabilities.

Is EcoStruxure meant to replace or complement standard terminal screens? What can it do better than standard terminals?

Gianotti: EcoStruxure Augmented Operator Advisor complements standard HMI terminal screens. It does so by being portable, so the facility manager or operators are empowered to access the insights from the machine anywhere in the plant.

In terms of pure functionality, your typical HMI is designed for operation, used for maintenance only after you’ve trained your maintenance personnel how to navigate each individual screen to diagnose current status or error messages. EcoStruxure Augmented Operator Advisor is a maintenance tool first, developed to simplify these maintenance activities through user-friendly interface tailored around maintenance needs.

Can EcoStruxure take data from and work with controls sourced from suppliers other than Schneider?

Gianotti: Yes. A key feature of the system is that it is hardware-agnostic. There is only one requirement; to have real-time variables exchanged between the machine and the tablet, you must use a Windows-based industrial PC.

How do you envision EcoStruxure being used most often by end users, especially in the packaging industry—for maintenance/troubleshooting, or as part of regular process monitoring?

Gianotti: I expect a roughly 70%/30% split respectively. But in general, we should see that it will be used more for maintenance and troubleshooting.

Is Bühler the first food equipment customer for EcoStruxure? Is it actually running in any plants for food or other consumable goods?

Gianotti: There are other consumer packaged goods (CPG) customers using EcoStruxure Augmented Operator Advisor throughout the globe, mostly in a pilot phase in collaboration with our product application expert teams to customize the application to their specific needs.

In the U.S., we currently have two packaging customers in this pilot phase, and one more in the queue. The goal is to present their first EcoStruxure Augmented Operator Advisor-enabled machines during the upcoming trade-show season in the fall.


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