This article first appeared in the Summer 2017 issue of The Record.
At Hannover Messe 2017 this April, ICONICS worked with Microsoft and Comau to demonstrate how a Microsoft HoloLens self-contained holographic computer could be used to visualise and control a Comau Racer 3 robot via ICONICS’ Holographic Machine Interface (HMI). Part of Comau’s DiWo (Digital Workplace) project, the demonstration highlighted how Microsoft HoloLens and ICONICS software could remotely monitor factory machines using augmented reality, natural gestures and the industrial internet of things (IIoT).
ICONICS and Microsoft are furthering the concept of the ‘digital twin’. A digital twin allows data from sensor-connected equipment to be accessed anywhere (often over the IoT) to create a real-time virtualised model for monitoring and control. In the case of the Hannover Messe demo, the application was collaborative robotics. However, the concept can be adapted to any connected manufacturing assets, including hardware, processes and products.
If an organisation is to trust a digital twin involved in its business-critical processes, it must ensure it has connectivity, security, resiliency, and advanced graphic visualisation and control. ICONICS IoTWorX software provides extensive connectivity and communications integration, supporting both highly used IoT transport protocols (AMQP, HTTPS, REST/JSON, MQTT) and multiple industrial, energy and building protocols (OPC Unified Architecture, OPC Classic, Modbus, BACnet, and SNMP). IoTWorX is one of the most secure end-to-end IoT software solutions on the market, thanks to its integration with Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing platform.
Resiliency can be achieved by moving the heavy lifting of data storage and analytics from on-premise machines to the cloud, and handling communication through IoTWorX. This also helps to avoid the impact of hardware obsolescence. Finally, the ability to make the invisible visible and use the acquired data to visualise and control a process – such as manipulating a robot that is involved in a manufacturing activity thousands of miles away – is accomplished through ICONICS GENESIS64 and MobileHMI suites. These can be used on PCs, mobile devices, and now, the Microsoft HoloLens.
Manufacturing organisations across the world are increasingly using the digital twin concept. When applied in conjunction with analytics tools, such as the ICONICS AnalytiX suite, the digital twin can also help to reduce production, energy and maintenance costs. ICONICS and Microsoft are dedicated to not only pushing the related technology forward, but also to ensuring that it’s useful for years to come.
Melissa Topp is senior director of Global Marketing at ICONICS