At the digital Hanover Fair 2021, ifm will be presenting the digital operator assistance system “ifm mate” for support of manual workstations in production environments. Based on a 2D/3D camera system for hand recognition, the system eliminates the need for cumbersome wrist accessories common to other systems.
The ifm mate assistance system supports workers with manual processes in production or at packaging workstations. Equipped with an optical 2D/3D camera, it identifies the operator’s hands and detects, for example, whether the operator has reached inside a box. The recognition of the hand, which is based on powerful deep learning technology, is the key component of the system. Whether workers are right- or left-handed is just as irrelevant for recognition as the position of the hand. The assistance system consists of a computer with a touch screen, the software and a photoelectric sensor that captures both a 2D video image and a 3D image. Thanks to the hand recognition in the 2D camera image, ifm mate does not require any further accessories such as VR goggles or wrist trackers. This greatly increases operator comfort compared to other guidance systems, resulting in very high acceptance levels among workers.
Workflows can flexibly be customised in the software. For example, it is possible to predefine a step sequence or let operators perform the steps in any order. Among other things, this has a positive effect on workflow ergonomics. The system then checks whether the workflow is executed correctly and displays any deviations on the screen. A combined optical and acoustic signalling device is provided as an option to indicate errors directly in the operator’s field of vision. Setting up ifm mate is simple and intuitive – no IT or specialist support is needed.
A typical application is, for example, a manual packaging workstation, where a sensor is to be placed into a cardboard box together with a cable and an instruction manual. Assuring the quality of such manual work steps has been a challenge to date compared to digitised processes. With the new operator assistance system, quality assurance is achieved very easily. Costly complaints can be prevented efficiently. ifm mate also offers advantages in terms of staff deployment: The system can support production employees with video instructions. This allows for flexible deployment of personnel at different workstations.
At Hannover Messe, ifm mate will be released in its basic configuration including a PC, software and a camera system. In the future, additional modules will follow, e.g. to support connection to an ERP system or integration into production plants or machines.
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