Tomra’s augmented reality system provides remote assistance amid covid-19
Sorting and inspection equipment firm Tomra Food has responded to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in developing a new augmented reality tool for providing remote assistance across its systems, including those dedicated to the confectionery market.
According to the Belgian-based company, its latest technology solution aims to solve a broader range of problems of varying degrees of complexity remotely, amid covid restrictions that have impacted on the ability for maintenance teams to access customers around the world.
As the company noted, the result is more uptime and better machine performance for customers, who in many global markets are facing renewed pressure as national continue to remain cautious with conditions remaining challenging.
“Fast response time is critical for our customers, who deal mostly in perishable goods,” explains Andreas Reddemann, VP and Head of Global Service at TOMRA Food, Aftermarket & Service. “Machine downtime for them may result in a deterioration in the quality of their product. During the harvesting season, they receive a constant flow of material and have to process high volumes, so uptime is vital.
“That’s why, at TOMRA Food, we have an ongoing focus on responding as fast as possible and in a way that is practical for them. When you have such a diverse geographic spread of customers as we have, it is not always possible to have the right Field Service Engineer immediately on site. TOMRA Visual Assist addresses this gap between being advised of an issue and being able to be there to support physically.”
As the company explained, its system is considered easy to use with no additional equipment or training required, other than a mobile phone with a camera. When the customer requests support through a message, email, or phone call, the firm’s field service engineer sends an invitation to initiate the session.
When the app opens, it seamlessly links through to a call with the company’s expert best suited to help them with the specific challenge they are facing. When connected, they communicate through voice and video. The Field Service Engineer can direct the customer to point the camera of their mobile phone to show what they need to see.
With the company’s visual assist system, they can also share with the customer documents and annotate images to explain and clarify directions. The company’s choice of technology also enables the use of advanced tools such as Smart Glasses, which provide an Augmented Reality remote intervention that leaves the customer technician or Field Service Engineer on-site with their hands free to operate with maximum safety.
“Our Visual Assist enables a greater level of clarity in the communication and information transfer between the person on-site and the expert providing guidance remotely. It acts as the local eyes of the remote expert,” says Andreas Reddeman.
“With this tool, the customer’s technician gets the support they need to resolve the issue immediately, bringing the machine back in operation. If a repair requires replacing a part, TOMRA’s expert can easily identify it and ensure the right spare is sent, increasing the first-time fix rate.”