Robot maintenance solution utilises AI and the cloud

23 September 2018

Mitsubishi Electric has developed a cloud-based solution for pro-active maintenance of robots based on the AI platform within IBM Watson. This is said to enable the smart analysis of operational data to predict future maintenance requirements.

The theory is that sometimes service schedule requirements for robots are inadvertently missed. By using a predictive maintenance method however, users can receive operational and maintenance data from their robots.

Employing predictive maintenance techniques enables production problems to be highlighted long before they result in unplanned downtime or impact on yield. Maintenance personnel can take corrective action before failure or before degraded machine performance results in sub-standard products being manufactured.

Predictive maintenance can also potentially help avoid some fixed-schedule maintenance tasks saving time and expenditure.

The Mitsubishi Electric solution offers predictive maintenance for robots utilising an AI platform within IBM Watson to assess actual maintenance requirements and then suggest actions to take in an efficient and timely manner. The platform uses predictive maintenance models, digital simulation and extrapolation of trends to provide maintenance information based on actual usage and wear characteristics.
The new system also demonstrates how the speed and efficiency of maintenance activities taking place can be enhanced using voice commands. An augmented reality platform is used to create a visual overlay which provides live information in real-time interactive screen graphics. Siri, for example, can then be used to issue simple commands based on the knowledge gleaned from the screen. Increased visibility of live status information is expected to provide opportunities for significant reductions in downtime.

Using this, system maintenance activities can also be optimised through the use of smart glasses, where the operator receives guidance on what tasks need to be performed. The glasses can show CAD drawings of the various robot parts, superimposed over the robot itself. The glasses can also show the maintenance manual and individual instructions.

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