'Smart glasses' are potential hands-free maintenance tool

Feb. 14, 2017

Can "smart glasses" worn by maintenance personnel provide a hands-free mode of gathering information for troubleshooting plastics processing machinery? That futuristic scenario is a distinct possibility, as Sacmi Imola S.C., Imola, Italy, demonstrated at the K show.

The M100 smart glasses from Vuzix are Android-based and feature a monocular display, on-board processor and wireless connectivity.

The company, which manufactures stretch blow molding machines, injection molding machines for PET preforms, and systems for making beverage closures and containers, is currently testing smart glasses supplied by Vuzix Corp., West Henrietta, N.Y. In 2016, Sacmi personnel in Italy, Germany and Japan tested the M100 smart glasses, and the company is extending those tests to its customers this year, according to Alberto Bianchi, training manager for closures and containers at Sacmi in Imola. He said the tests are focused on the company's plastic-closure manufacturing lines and video inspection systems.

Bianchi said that the M100 model was chosen for testing because of its features, stability and cost-benefit ratio. Vuzix describes the M100 as an Android-based wearable computer with a monocular display, on-board processor and wireless connectivity. It is equipped with a high-definition camera and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity. Its pre-installed apps can be used to take still pictures, record and play video, and link to a smart phone. The cost of the Vuzix smart glasses is $1,000, according to the Vuzix website.

The smart glasses are being tested as a remote device that, via an app, allows interaction with Sacmi's smart factory software module, known as H.E.R.E., which stands for Human Expertise Reactive Engineering. Bianchi noted that the app is key to linking the remote hardware, which could also include smartphones or tablets, to the H.E.R.E. package. Preventive maintenance software included in H.E.R.E. provides information on how maintenance tasks should be performed. H.E.R.E. also links the user to the Sacmi eLearning program.

The comprehensive maintenance services include:

• A call center that provides 24/7 access;

• Preventive maintenance packages that provide guidance on routine maintenance and repair work;

• Access to engineering teams for technical support;

• Remote assistance to provide a detailed view of the machine;

• And a database of solutions to common problems.

Italian machinery maker Sacmi Imola S.C. is currently testing smart glasses supplied by Vuzix Corp. and will extend testing to its customers this year.

Bianchi explained that the remote app performs two basic tasks: It enables the user to see training courses that are loaded to the device; and it connects the user to Sacmi internet-based video communication when there is a need for live assistance.

For example, a field technician can use the smart glasses to view a video of maintenance procedures. The technician can start and stop the video and perform the tasks that he or she has viewed. If the technician still has questions, he or she can communicate with technical support at the company. (Bianchi notes that a smart phone would provide access to the same information.)

"The smart glasses are a tool," Bianchi said. "Smart glasses are useful for professionals in need of video communication in a remote environment, while operating hands-free."

The smart glasses that are now being tested are promising when it comes to extending remote access and hands-free operations to more users, Bianchi said.

He noted, however, that Sacmi does not have any formal partnerships with any suppliers of hardware that allow remote access and prefers its software to be independent from any hardware solution.

John DeGaspari, senior correspondent

[email protected]


Sacmi USA Ltd., 515-276-2052, www.sacmiusa.com

Vuzix Corp., 585-359-7562, www.vuzix.com