Intermac engaged in ubiquitous information-research for stone processing

Levantina’s eyewear at Cersaie 2014.

Augmented Reality can cut manufacturing costs for machinery / stone product 4.0: a package containing material, production and communication

Inconspicuously Augmented Reality has maneuvered itself into the natural stone branch: At the 2014 Cersaie Trade Fair, Spanish-based Levantina Company demonstrated Google Glass (see photo above), and at Marmomacc 2016 Intermac presented its research project in cooperation with Università Polytecnica delle Marche (Marche Polytechnic University) in Ancona, Italy.

Easy to see what this is all about: don a pair of these new-fangled glasses equipped with a miniature camera integrated in one temple, and a projection of an image or even a film on the inner surface of the glasses will show a combination of reality and the projection – hence: augmented reality.

The technical term for such eyewear is Head Mounted Display, HMD, available in a large variety of formats.

A similar effect can be achieved with smartphones: aim the camera on a QR-code and the data divulging additional information is sent directly to your phone.

But in contrast to the smartphone application, eyewear-assisted Augmented Reality comes with the decisive hands-free advantage!

Google Glass. photo: Loïc Le Meur / Wikimedia Commons

This, again, opens important new possibilities for Intermac, producers of machinery, e.g. if a stonemason needs to change a tool, the eye-ware can indicate the necessary steps which he can then carry out freehanded. No need for cumbersome manual searches.

Or in case of a malfunction, the stonemason can request remote repair assistance from the manufacturer’s service center.

Imagine if a company in, e.g. Stratford, New Zealand were to hook up to Intermac in Pesaru, Italy and solve the problem jointly.

This could reduce idle time and the cost of repairs. Those working the machinery would be relieved of unnecessary stress. The service center would be available around the clock.

Google Glass. photo: Tedeytan / Wikimedia Commons

However, and this is a collateral aspect of the new technology: in order to fully profit of Augmented Reality’s full potential, producers of machinery and stonemasons would have to submit to new communication.
Malfunctions can best be repaired before they occur. If, e.g., a manufacturer of machinery receives a number of calls indicating serious disruptions, he could pool the insight and nip the problem in the bud.

Service would then become a two-way road and stonemasons and manufacturers would move closer together to a cooperation.

A package containing material, production and communication

Communication with architects is also in a transitional phase – in the future, more communication will be required of stonemasons. Beside the usual products, e.g. slabs for façades, there is a growing market for cut-to-size-projects requiring individual and unique pieces. See below for a link to a project on which we reported earlier.

Natural stone is exactly the right material for such a project because individual pieces can be cut out with the aid of CNC-technology with a high degree of precision at an affordable price. Concrete on the other hand is not suitable for single-piece production as the casing would have to be produced individually as well.

But a great number of different pieces entails a great need for communication with architects and building engineers.

Here, too, Augmented Reality can help: The stone company no-longer sells only the stone but rather a package consisting of material, production and communication.


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(22.01.2017, USA: 01.22.2017)