The Future of Work and Safety with AI and wearables

From virtual reality contact lenses to augmented reality training, enable a step-change in efficiency and safety in the energy and process industries

In the time it takes to read this blog, the rate of innovation continues. Technology once a mere figment of the imagination, is available and spur the development of new innovative applications, as my video presentation from global energy conference CERAWeek* shows. From virtual reality contact lenses to augmented reality training and artificial intelligence for industrial operators, technology and applications are available that enables a step change in operational efficiency and safety in the energy and process industries.

By leveraging these technical innovations, we can reduce human mistakes, onboard new talent faster, and get better overall at managing industrial operations safely and efficiently.  The availability of ruggedized, certified mobile devices has enabled mobile apps to be developed, that supports field workers to perform their tasks in a safe, efficient and practical way.  Augmented or Mixed Reality glasses (AR/MR) such as the Hololens provide an excellent training tool, using interactable 3D models of the real facility, along with the procedure and process models so that operations and maintenance teams can be trained and certified in the execution of procedures in a safe environment.

Field operators can also use a tablet or smart phone to work connected, guided step by step, with access to real time information and perform work synchronized with the control system.  The objective of eliminating the things that can go wrong is further supported by the built in camera. Scanning a QR code ensure work is performed in the right context, and a photo proof to verify that work was performed correctly. As an example, the number of incidents and accidents caused by operators acting on the wrong valve, in the wrong sequence or left in the wrong position, shows a huge opportunity for improvements.   Voice commands and voice synthesize together with a Virtual Assistant using AI can additionally enhance the ease of work, knowledge and safety of the operator by providing notifications and information related to the area and task at hand.

Describing these use cases with words is nothing like experiencing augmented reality yourself, and as I mentioned, technologies continually improve in our iterative and agile world. I encourage you to connect with us to see ABB Ability™ Augmented Field Procedures live, or visit to read more.

*The CERAWeek 2020 live conference was cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns, but content has been made available digitally.

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About the author

Matilda Steiner-Arvidsson

Matilda is the global product manager for the Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) portfolio and is responsible for growing and scaling our offering to the energy industries. She has more than 20 years of experience with leadership roles in engineering, management consulting and industrial software business, most recently as Product Line Manager within ABB Control Technologies. Matilda began her career with ABB working within the power generation business, involved in steam power plant projects internationally. She also spent 6 years as a management consultant in the areas of value management, performance management and outsourcing. She earned a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Lund Institute of Technology, Sweden.
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