Advanced technology for quality control and training
A cognitive assistance system is a technical system that uses new data input and existing data to show solutions and thus support human users. The best-known example of such a system is probably the everyday satellite navigation systems found in most cars. A system such as “Smart Klaus” for industry goes well beyond this: “A light panel is located right at the top of the work bench, on the Table Overhang, while a camera system is installed in the center. The camera watches the work bench from above, and the software uses image recognition to check whether the various processes are being carried out correctly,” explains Magnus Blombach, project manager and sales engineer at Sopp.
For this purpose, each of the relevant processes needs to be defined. At the same time, the worksteps stored in the system serve as a digital guide, leading the employee through the work process step by step at a monitor. A wide range of media can be used to provide greater clarity, from text and images to self-made videos with commentaries. The intelligent system uses the parameters entered (for instance, contours, colors or fonts) to check whether the desired result has been achieved. If everything has gone well, the next stage in the packing process is started immediately but, if it hasn’t, the employee is prompted to make corrections. A set of scales on the right-hand side of the bench can be used for additional checks, as correctly packed goods will have a specific, predetermined weight.
Originally, “Smart Klaus” was to be deployed for quality control purposes on a flow line at Sopp, where it was to count individual products in packs – for advent calendars, for instance. “However, after several discussions with Optimum, we discovered that doing that on the fly isn’t all that straightforward yet. All the same, we were very impressed by “Smart Klaus”, so we also wanted to use it in a different way. The system is actually used in more complex applications – for soldering printed circuit boards or assembling switchboxes, for example – yet it’s exactly what we need, too,” says Blombach.
This brings us to the current area of application – if smaller quantities of a product need to be packed, because additional display stands in shops need to be filled, for instance, this takes place at a standalone work bench. The entire packing process is depicted at this work bench, unlike on the production line, where only one workstep is performed at each station. Thanks to the cognitive assistance system’s digital guide, such tasks can be performed at short notice even without prior training. If, however, actual training is scheduled, training personnel are no longer needed for this, thanks to the user-friendly audiovisual presentation.