Augmented reality, a smart packaging value-added service 

Published: 19/05/2022

Augmented Reality (AR) applications break in the industrial world thanks to tangible benefits for labour and businesses as well in terms of efficiency, thus confirming the centrality of the human factor in the digital transformation of manufacturing companies.

Cama Group decided to steer in this direction offering its range of value-added services. The company has been on the market for over forty years as manufacturer of high-tech integrated systems for secondary packaging.

Within Industry 4.0, the global project of the Group including all digital activities and innovating services for manufacturers, Cama offered a tool called Augmented Reality Assistant.

This augmented reality application offers the machine user, be it an operator, a maintenance technician, a trainer or a shift foreman, the opportunity to quickly and simultaneously access information on machine use, thus simplifying access to information to make use more efficient.

Augmented Reality Assistant Goes towards a Better Way of Working 

The scenery to come is a better way of working. “We aim at top efficiency while acting on the machine and offering tools to machine operators”, explains Massimo Monguzzi, R&D manager, Cama. 

“Information covers two major fields: maintenance and format change. In the latter field, offering precise directions on operations to be carried out enables us to immediately optimise timing while avoiding mistakes and obtaining production efficiency”. AR enables you immediately to get a visual display of machine information; you do not have to look for it in a traditional handbook.

Augmented Reality Assistant was born in 2020 as an expandable digital platform with the aim of enriching it with additional digital services over time. One of them covers spare parts: the application suggests a list of spare parts based upon the number of hours worked; it automatically generates an email with the serial number and all necessary details of the system to place a purchase order. 

The “Engine” of an Augmented Reality Assistant

Augmented Reality Assistant is a digital application based on Vuforia Studio, the augmented reality platform by Ptc that converts CAD and IoT existing data into an AR experience to offer strategic information to workers on the field.

“We decided to rely on a worldwide known platform offering qualified references, operating applications and development projects that enable us to offer our customers reliable services in the medium and long term; our clients are mainly structured multinationals in the food & beverage industry, as well as in the pet food and health care industry” adds Monguzzi. 

Vuforia is a cross platform solution that qualifies the Industrial IoT to augmented reality and is fitted for the production world. On the platform, the Cama R&D team has developed a customized software layer to meet the requirements of this industry, with the purpose of offering a value-added range of secondary packaging machines

Real Time Data with Awareness, Safety and Ownership

An additional service Cama engineers are developing is the management of data collected by the machine in real time. It is a wide and sensitive field involving such aspects as safety and ownership of data. “During the initial phase data will stay on board of the machine and remain the user’s property”, explains Monguzzi. 

“This step requires more advanced management and analysis tools in order to gain value from data acquired, without having to forward them to a cloud. So, we are adopting an edge computing solution on board of the machine, in cooperation with Bosch Rexroth and its CtrlX platform. In this way, one keeps the ownership of data and, in parallel the segregation between automation and the IT world is maintained, thus ensuring safety requirements”.

Becoming aware of data and of its potential is the first step. The second step covers visualising through interfaces. It may seem trivial but it is not, as data have to be aggregated as a function of production and its requirements, e.g. as regards shifts or products. The next step covers the development of algorithms by means of artificial intelligence and machine learning. 

“Today, our machines are not equipped with intelligent logics to analyse data, however, for sure this will be the subject in the next few years. Again, we’ll have to look for a qualified and acknowledged partner”.

Augmented Reality for Training

In view of evolving production systems, technologies like augmented reality and artificial intelligence aim at enhancing human resources.

In fact, training is another important field that will benefit from tools like augmented reality. “On some markets, like in the U.S. just to mention one, with a quick turnover of production staff, the availability of efficient training tools is a significant added value that can positively increase productivity”.

The Service Concept Takes Shape

“We make machines; we supply our customers with a secondary packaging project solution. It is a system that starts with a pack design project, the selection of the best suited machine and handling system; in a near future, services will be added,” he says. Cama has already been doing it for years with more traditional services; however, we are going to develop services with a higher value added, based on data, offering benefits both to machine users, in terms of optimised production, and to manufacturers who will get hints and suggestions to improve a machine right from the design phase.

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