Remote assistance lessons learned from maintenance teams across our customer base in regards to Covid-19

Disaster recovery plans in response to the Covid19 pandemic are omnipresent, yet no company included a governmental lock down of entire regions, severely impacting production plants and other facilities.

In the era of the pandemic, Iristick has been involved in several COVID19-solution teams. Worldwide, maintenance and support teams are searching for ways to remain productive during the pandemic. Smart glasses are part of the solution.

Smart glasses enable remote experts to support field technicians in real-time, through a combination of a natural viewpoint central camera, an optical zoom-camera and a communication system. Called “See-what-I-see”, the expert sees exactly what the field technician sees and does. Vice versa, the display on the smart glasses visualizes additional information such as pictures, annotations and videos sent from the expert to the field technician. During the call, the expert and the field technician can maintain complete handsfree two-way communication via built-in speakers and microphones.

These are the 5 best practices we have identified to restore operations dealing with COVID19 crisis measures and long-term effects. These best practices are specifically tuned for maintenance teams and facility management.

Reduce contamination risk: use on-site personnel to the full extent

One of our customers (a FMCG-retailer with more than 200 stores) is selecting “tech–savvy” local staff with regular in-store duties. Their work schedule is re-organized to have at least one such person assigned with minimal tech-training, who can be guided remotely by an expert to perform technical tasks (e.g. help to diagnose a problem). With this measure, our customer reduces the contamination risk in both directions by limiting the need for on-site presence of the expert. Before, such expert would travel from store to store with increased risk of contamination.

First diagnosis = remote diagnosis

A good practice is to diagnose a problem remotely prior to deciding whether or not to travel on-site. This can be done by connecting predictive sensors to equipment (principle of a “digital twin”), or by equipping local staff (maintenance or other) with remote assistance tools. Remote diagnosis and, where possible, repair, will reduce the need to send technicians on-site, saving time and cost and reducing contamination risk. Smart glasses are an essential technology for remote diagnosis and will become part of any “first aid kit” of maintenance and repair teams.

Split teams (and office locations)

One of the most intrusive measures is to split teams to avoid active contamination and split office/factory locations to avoid passive contamination. Many of our customers are implementing this guideline, although it has a huge impact on increased real-estate need and requires flexibility in the maintenance workforce. As an example, the manufacturer of our smart glasses splits every team in day and night shifts with in between decontamination of common workspaces. This way, they avoid that complete teams (e.g. the soldering team) are all contaminated at once, bringing the entire factory to a stop.

Identify “lockdown” personnel (quarantine risk)

Some staff members are so crucial (e.g. because it take months/years to train them), that any risk of contamination needs to be avoided. Both for the well-being of this person and also for continuity reasons of factories, warehouses or shops.

This “lockdown”-staff, needs to adopt even stricter social distancing guidelines and are equipped with remote assistance tools to support their less experienced team-members in the field.

Security of remote work solutions

From an IT-infrastructure point of view, one of the crucial considerations is how to secure the end-to-end communication. Multiple customers have/had a “no camera” policy, or an “on premise”-guideline in their factories and warehouses.
Overnight, they had to accommodate half of the workforce working remotely with access to the most sensitive company data from their personal computers. Remote assistance software vendors anticipated such requirements and have integrated end-to-end encryption in their platforms.
One of the key advantages of Iristick is that our smart glasses are phone-tethered by design, plug-in to existing approved devices on the network and typically do not require deviation from existing IT policies.

Another interesting perspective on how to ramp up factory operations during crisis can be consulted on a dedicated webinar of our partner PwC.

Read more about why remote assistance leveraged by smart glasses is here to stay, also after the Covid-19 pandemic.

Want to learn more about remote assistance? Request a demo

Published on Apr 24, 2020