Hands-free remote collaboration for wind power maintenance
The way we communicate is evolving rapidly. As the COVID pandemic forced businesses the world over to adopt remote collaboration as a primary comms platform, SimplyVideo and connected device partner RealWear put their heads together to determine how to solve this problem for frontline workers, no matter where they work
With breakthroughs in low-bandwidth environments and wearable technologies, the companies have already demonstrated the value in real world settings.
The most recent example is at Ørsted’s Rehearsal of Concept (ROC) drills on their offshore Hornsea 2 project. The solution allowed Ørsted to take a first-person point of view of those who were physically in the room and remotely present it to their team members. The result allowed 150 people to participate from all over the world, except without the carbon footprint, and without risking infection.
Revolutionising ROC drills
The combination of solutions from the two companies was utilised to facilitate the drills, which are routinely carried out to plan large scale construction and commissioning projects offshore.
Typically, ROC drills involve upwards of 100 participants meeting together to review detailed diagrams spread out across a large floorspace, with models being physically moved around as the team explores the programme and brings the planning processes together. With the pandemic restricting travel and requiring social distancing measures, the traditional method was no longer possible. In short, SimplyVideo and RealWear were brought in to offer the same level of experience and interaction, but virtually.
The rapid rise of hands-free remote collaboration for wind power technicians
The increasing importance of video collaboration over the past year cannot be overstated. With the world working in disparate settings, platforms such as Microsoft Teams have allowed everyone to keep in touch and continue everyday activities with a degree of relative normalcy. However, for most businesses, that doesn’t go much further than seeing a series of heads and shoulders on a screen each day.
Nevertheless, even limited video calling is undoubtedly a vast positive in terms of both productivity and the environment. Remote connectivity removes the necessity for travel and saves time and money. It’s also become abundantly clear that this solution is far more than a mere replacement for in-person interaction. It’s a means for broader, more accommodating remote participation.
This global movement towards more engaging conferencing through remote technology is something in which both SimplyVideo and RealWear are hugely invested. RealWear is the pioneer of assisted reality (AR), industrial-grade connected devices. On the software side, SimplyVideo, is an optimised low-bandwidth solution that integrates with Microsoft Teams and focuses on a wider level of device integration for video calls.
This is ideal for offshore environments as remote attendees can see through the eyes of an on-site worker, despite the maritime bandwidth being nowhere near the standard found in cities.
Next ten years in wind energy
Vestas has noted that in the next ten years, over 30% of their workforce is expected to retire. Those experienced retirees have a wealth of knowledge that will desperately need to be passed on to the next generation in order for operations to continue.
In high risk, low bandwidth environments, this knowledge ‘hand-off’ needs to be carried out safely and quickly. To put it simply, holding a mobile phone in one hand and pointing it at equipment is dangerous and unsuitable when running diagnostics on complex machinery in an environment like a windfarm.
A typical scenario in this industry might see a worker trying to read a laminate schedule while suspended 300 metres in the air on a wind turbine, wearing gloves while working with resin and cloth to try and make a repair. It’s a lot easier if they have both hands free.
RealWear and SimplyVideo
The RealWear hands-free wearable computer has been built with industries such as wind energy in mind. It uses AR technology so that users can maintain situational awareness at all times in potentially dangerous scenarios. As a head-mounted, voice-activated solution, the device is completely hands free, so workers aren’t risking safety by using one hand to hold a mobile phone while troubleshooting a piece of heavy equipment with high-speed parts. The unit is also water resistant and drop-tested, which is required when working in these types of harsh environments.
When that worker reaches a point where they can no longer proceed productively, what if they can adopt a remote mentorship solution to converse with an expert using their existing video communications platform? That’s where SimplyVideo comes in.
Platforms such as Microsoft Teams have been incredible assets to post-COVID adjustment. SimplyVideo was designed around device connectivity, facilitating the integration of wearables as well as other equipment such as drones and underwater cameras into Microsoft Teams calls, or through a web browser. It’s also been developed in order to provide a stable connection where bandwidth is at a minimum – It’s absolutely ideal for this sector.
Providing a solution
Together, SimplyVideo and RealWear provide a solution that revolutionises offshore communication, bringing immersive video interaction to an environment that’s been limited to just radio for decades. It’s for this reason that they caught Ørsted’s eye.
Scalable remote participation is a game changer in the industry. Working together, RealWear and SimplyVideo deliver safer, more efficient practices in wind energy. The best thing? This is just the beginning.