IS & Ex


Mobile workers 4.0

September 2023 IS & Ex

Intrinsically safe smart devices enable lone mobile workers to work seamlessly throughout the plant with the help of digital support. The significant increase in production efficiency and reliability is noticeable. Equipped with smart mobile devices, lone mobile workers are quick and flexible in their response to a variety of requirements, and always have access to vital information and documents. Conversely, lone workers use data harvesting to transfer real-time information about the plant status back to the system. If they have questions or more complex assignments at hand, they can call experts for remote support. This speeds up installation and servicing, while reducing the likelihood of a fault. In emergency situations, mobile workers can quickly call for assistance using their mobile devices.

However, hazardous areas have long since been a blackspot in terms of digitalisation and communication within an industrial plant. An explosive atmosphere can occur at any time − caused by flammable liquids, gases or dust. Strict safety requirements apply to the tools and devices used in these areas, to prevent the creation of sparks. Only mobile devices that are certified for use in hazardous areas may be used. In addition, network coverage in production is not always seamless, especially in large-scale plants or in the offshore sector. These circumstances have traditionally reduced the effectiveness of mobile devices in hazardous areas, and limited the choice of suitable devices. With the latest generation of intrinsically safe smart devices, Pepperl+Fuchs ECOM Instruments are bringing digital transformation to hazardous areas.

The intrinsically safe Visor-Ex 01 Smart Glasses from ECOM Instruments comprise a lightweight head unit specifically designed for industrial applications. They can be easily attached to any safety helmet and combined with any headset. As a state-of-the-art expansion to the proven Smart-Ex family of intrinsically safe smartphones, the Smart Glasses offer lone workers maximum flexibility in their work. They can seamlessly switch between hands-free mode or working on the smartphone screen, which acts as a powerful computing and wireless unit. It is quick and simple, without complicated conversions or complex installations. As a peripheral device to the smartphone, the Smart Glasses can be used directly with the applications installed on the smartphone. There is no need to install special applications or to adapt IT systems or the software used.

With Visor-Ex 01, mobile workers receive key information into their field of view via an OLED display, and have both hands free for complex tasks. A microphone array on the Smart Glasses is available for phone calls and voice commands. Three built-in cameras scan barcodes and stream videos, reflecting the lone worker’s natural field of view during transmissions. Remote support experts therefore view the task as if they were on site with the ‘see what I see’ video streams. Mobile workers provide the required documentation using their smartphone, and add photos or videos where necessary.

The Smart-Ex 03, the latest smartphone in the Pepperl+Fuchs portfolio, incorporates the entire digitalisation expertise of Pepperl+Fuchs and the in-house expertise centres of ECOM Instruments and Aava Mobile. The successor to the proven Smart-Ex 02 supports the latest communication standards 5G and Wi-Fi 6. Pepperl+Fuchs is addressing the trend toward 5G-based private networks in campus and indoor communication. In addition, push-to-talk devices with 5G or LTE support are increasingly replacing the classic radio in this area.

The Smart-Ex 03 satisfies the Android Enterprise Recommended hardware specifications and the most stringent requirements on devices in industrial use, and with regard to cybersecurity. With Google ARCore, the intrinsically safe device supports current augmented reality applications and is suitable as an ideal computing unit for Visor-Ex 01. The latest Android 13 operating system ensures high performance and security.

State-of-the-art safety architecture provides even greater safety during use in hazardous areas. The innovative device health monitoring features mean that the hardware monitors itself.

By adding the Smart Glasses to the smartphone functionality, a modular, smart ecosystem is created that is the right tool for every situation in the mobile worker’s everyday work, anywhere on the plant. As a complete digital solution, the intrinsically safe smart devices support lone workers in retrieving and digitally capturing data. The devices ensure uninterrupted communication throughout the entire area. This seamless communication not only increases the safety of the lone worker, but also accelerates response times in the event of faults or defects. This way, planned and unplanned downtimes can be significantly reduced.

The possibility of remote support via augmented reality reduces the risk of faults and improves the quality of work flows. Real-time analysis of data instantly indicates whether the servicing procedure was successful. These capabilities, combined with predictive servicing to determine the condition of the components in operation, improve workflow planning and speed up fault repair.


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