Remote collaboration beats physical presence

> Increased productivity, easier access to help from specialists, a more smooth and efficient collaboration with customers, and better documentation. These are some of the benefits we have helped Semco Maritime achieve through remote collaboration.

What did we do?

Semco Maritime produces systems and solutions for customers in the offshore industry. Together, we have been testing an augmented reality (AR) solution and different head-mounted devices to significantly optimize their customer experience as well as their internal processes.

We tested both RealWear and HoloLens 2. Both are head-mounted devices that share the point of view of the person wearing the device with people in other locations.

Help is always at hand

If a piece of equipment unexpectedly shuts down on an offshore rig, help from the right technical expert can be days away. That downtime is costly in lost time and productivity for the owners of the rig, and on top of that come travel expenses for the technician.

In collaboration with Virsabi, Semco Maritime has tested a remote collaboration solution to help customers solve challenges faster. By connecting offshore service personnel and onshore experts, the job gets done faster, safer, and better. Wearing a HoloLens 2 or RealWear, the offshore employee shares his or her point of view with the expert. When the offshore technician wears the AR glasses HoloLens 2, the expert can draw and point on top of what the technician sees while they communicate to get the job done. All communication is done by participating in a Microsoft Teams call with the technician.

The benefits of remote collaboration between people offshore and onshore have proven many. Specialists can help more offshore colleagues because time spent traveling is eliminated. The quality is increased because offshore service personnel have easier access to expert advice and help. And of course, travel costs are at a minimum because experts can stay right where they are.

Remote assist as used on the Realwear wearable display

Can you replace physical presence with virtual participation?

In their factory in Singapore, Semco Maritime produces fire fighting systems. When a system is almost ready to be shipped to the customer, Semco Maritime performs Factory Acceptance Tests (FATs) with the customer to make sure everything works as intended.

Semco Maritime wanted to test what difference it would make for them to replace physical presence with virtual participation in FATs. Their hope was that virtual presence could work as well as physical presence. If that were the case, Semco Maritime’s own processes would be faster, and their customer would not have to fly as many people to Singapore to participate in the FATs.

After the tests, it turns out that virtual presence through AR not only lives up to Semco Maritime’s hopes. It also includes benefits that exceed what is possible to achieve with physical presence. Semco Maritime were positively surprised to discover benefits beyond what they expected going into the collaboration with Virsabi.

Keeping the customer in the loop

For Semco Maritime, remote collaboration proved a great tool for facilitating the process leading up to the FAT. A major benefit is that the technology works as a communication tool that supports and eases a strong collaboration between Semco Maritime and its customer. On top of that, Semco Maritime has been seeing productivity and collaboration benefits in using HoloLens 2 in their internal processes producing their products.

Semco Maritime found that the HoloLens 2 allowed the company to bring a customer from anywhere in the world to the factory in Singapore without having to physically fly them there. Continuous alignment through remote collaboration is priceless for the collaboration between Semco Maritime and the customer.

With remote collaboration, Semco Maritime and its customer can solve challenges immediately and with a high level of customer involvement. 

Jens Lauritsen who is chief product officer at Virsabi is excited to have helped Semco Maritime achieve a collaboration without the friction that often comes with collaborating across distances:

“The FAT is the last step to make sure everything is just perfect before the customer receives their product. It’s super important for both Semco Maritime and the customer that the customer isn’t the least bit surprised during the FAT. And with continuous remote collaboration, they won’t be,” says Jens Lauritsen.

Unlimited front-row seats

While testing remote collaboration during the FAT, we found that not only is remote collaboration up to par with physical presence. In some instances, it is an improvement.

To compare experiences, we had some participants physically present and some virtually present for the FAT. As we were walking around, one of the physical participants got a glimpse of a computer screen that shows what those participating through Microsoft Teams see. He was surprised to see how much more detail the virtual participants got to see in first-person point of view through the HoloLens.

Another benefit is the possibility of adding more participants with no added cost. As long as one person wears the HoloLens, Semco Maritime and the customer can have as many people join the FAT as they want – without flying them to the factory. And a specialist whose time is valuable can participate in the part of the FAT where his or her expertise is needed instead of having to spend excessive amounts of time on the test.

Finally, using the HoloLens in FATs makes documentation a lot easier. At the click of a button, the glasses record the entire test, making it easy for Semco Maritime and the customer to go back to see what was tested and discussed during the test.

“The ambition was to save on travel expenses – flights, hotels, time spent. We wanted to see if we could create an experience of participating virtually in a FAT that was as good as being there in person. It turns out, we can make it even better,” says Jens Lauritsen.

Choosing hardware

RealWear is a head-mounted device that is easy to learn how to use. It shows the point of view of the person wearing it, and it has a small screen on which those not physically present can present documents, video or images to the person wearing it while communicating verbally. RealWear is easy to get started with and requires very little investment.

The HoloLens 2 is a pair of AR glasses that lets a remote specialist draw in the field of vision of the person wearing them, while communicating with the person to perform a certain task correctly. Adding a digital layer to the local technician’s field of vision, the HoloLens 2 merges the wearer’s world with the knowledge and guidance of the remote specialist.

Choosing between the two devices depends on the context and your company’s challenges and needs in the situation.

Are you unsure how to get started with remote collaboration? We have both RealWear and HoloLens 2 in stock, and we are always open to have a chat about your business and its needs.

Want to know more?
Send us an email or call +45 3323 2203

Virsabi is a virtual reality studio.A technology house of developers and creatives, and one of the first Virtual Reality dedicated companies, offering business consultancy, advisory work and technical development for the utilization of Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality.

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