Fraunhofer IPA is looking for partners to test and further develop “InsideOut” together.

IT tool makes machine data visible

Media service October 2017 /

Digitization means that machines and systems are generating more and more data. However, many members of staff have difficulty interpreting it. With “InsideOut” Fraunhofer IPA has developed an IT tool that visualizes real machine data in a context specific way. This enables workers to call up required information such as temperature or fill level in near real-time. Fraunhofer IPA is now looking for test subjects as it enters the testing phase.

© Fraunhofer IPA, Rainer Bez
The “InsideOut” application developed by Fraunhofer IPA visualizes machine control data, making it easy for users to understand complex information.

Today, ever more machines have IT interfaces. As a result, large volumes of data are being generated from production. This data presents a variety of opportunities for companies, for instance recognizing errors early or increasing the efficiency of the entire system. Nevertheless, companies rarely use production data. Jonas Gutjahr, scientist at Fraunhofer IPA explains critically: “Most companies don’t even finish reading their data, or if they do, it usually ends up in an Excel spreadsheet or on a server in the basement.” The reason he gives for this is that expert knowledge is needed to understand the complex protocol from the machine control system. Gutjahr adds: “For instance, someone who is not a control technician might not even recognize which machine component the data refers to.”

Tool links machine data with CAD model

With InsideOut, Fraunhofer IPA experts have developed a tool that visualizes machine data in a context-specific way. For this, a high-performance connector developed by Fraunhofer IPA taps into machine control data and makes it directly available to the application or via cloud computing. Next, InsideOut links the control data to a CAD model. The viewer sees an animated machine model that moves almost in real-time. In contrast to normal live-streams, the user is able to interact with the application and call up additional information. Gutjahr explains: “With a 3D printer, for instance, you can click on the heated bed to display the temperature. The same goes for the fill level or the extruder coordinates.” This means that employees with little knowledge of control technology can interpret complex machine data. Relevant information such as instructions, text or images can be added for all machine components. The virtual machine model can be visualized on any end device, such as a touch monitor or a smartphone. Currently, researchers are working on connecting it to Microsoft’s mixed reality headset, HoloLens. Gutjahr adds: “The wearer would then be able to click on the real machine and the relevant data would be displayed in their field of vision.”

Filter information according to requirements

InsideOut offers users numerous opportunities. For example, employees do not need to stand directly next to a machine to check the progress of a process. Gutjahr points out: »You can see whether the printer has overheated or the process is running properly from wherever you are.” It is also possible to filter information and to display it when required. Gutjahr adds: “Maintenance staff are shown error messages, CEOs see productivity ratios and mechanical engineers can access operating instructions.” He goes on to talk about the reduced need for queries and the fact that, in future, it could be possible to fit an alarm to warn the user when certain thresholds are exceeded or not met.

Looking for application partners  

Fraunhofer IPA scientists have created a demo version for InsideOut, which is currently being expanded to different machines. In addition to Fraunhofer IPA’s proprietary 3D printer, this includes a punching machine by IEF-Werner and the “Dynamic Rope Hoist” crane system from Schmalz, which transports packets onto a conveyor belt using a vacuum lifter. Currently, the experts are looking for additional partners interested in testing and further developing the application at their own company. Interested parties can experience the tool live at the application center Industry 4.0 or the Future Work Lab at ARENA 2036.

© Fraunhofer IPA, Rainer Bez
“InsideOut” links machine control data to a CAD model of the machine. The user receives a live image with which they can interact.

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