Large scale machinery manufacturer for the food and beverage industry, HG Molenaar, has transformed their daily operations with the help of Iristick smart glasses.

Operating all across the globe, Molenaar is known for its high-quality food processing equipment, serving the biggest clients in the food and beverage industry. As a renowned market leader in heavy machinery manufacturing, they strive to offer the best customer service after equipment delivery and installation. Molenaar touched upon the possibilities of enterprise augmented reality already before the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Yet, the imposed travel restrictions made the organization adopt the technology with full force.

Lead service engineer Marius Menezies is based in the busy hub of Johannesburg, South Africa, and directs a team of local technicians. The heavy machines are assembled, tested and manufactured, before being shipped to their clients worldwide. Marius provides direct support when technical issues arise during and after the installation process on the client’s site. As these machines need to be configured carefully, it’s common practice for Molenaar’s technicians to visit their client’s site. In addition, in case of machine breakdowns or repairs, skilled technicians travel on-site to their clients to have this fixed as soon as possible; since not working or obsolete machines cost the company thousands of dollars by the minute.

Fixing food processing machinery issues from a distance

With multiple customers located all over the world, it’s impossible for HG Molenaar’s engineers and technicians to constantly be on the road, and on top of that, the Covid-19 pandemic’s travel restrictions forced HG Molenaar to structurally think in a different direction. By using smart glasses technology, remote assistance sessions would allow issues to be fixed from a distance, without the need to travel. Here, the local technicians wear the glasses, and thanks to the built-in cameras and microphone, Marius and his team can then give feedback from a distance in real-time, fixing issues in twice as little time compared to the traditional way. Besides this, they also use the glasses for training purposes, resulting in faster onboarding of new employees.

The ideal hands-free solution for fixing heavy food processing machinery

The ‘plug-and-play’ interface ensures the glasses are extremely easy to use. Together with our remote assistance software partner Wizzeye, technicians simply log in and start recording their remote assistance session. Connecting each other over wi-fi, the remote technician gives detailed instructions to the local crew. In fact, the central camera and powerful zoom lens ensure remote collaboration over video gets a new, more powerful dimension. The remote technician sees exactly what the local technician sees on-site and can even make annotations and send them over via the small display screen in the glasses. He can additionally zoom into the smallest details and use the laser pointer to pinpoint exactly which actions need to be taken. “What I really like about the glasses is that you can simply use your own private smartphone. It’s so easy to use. After logging in and connecting with the other party, you simply tuck your phone away in a dedicated pouch and hook this onto your belt. This way, you have both of your hands available to do your job. So convenient”, Marius states.

HG Molenaar's expert technicians providing instant feedback from a distance via video collaboration
HG Molenaar's expert technicians provide instant feedback from a distance via video collaboration

Better operational efficiency and fewer machine breakdowns

The ease of use of the glasses advances both Marius and his team as well as the local technicians. Both encounter more productivity in terms of better operational efficiency and fewer machine breakdowns. By using smart glasses, the remote expert can use the time he would normally spend on traveling on other duties. Especially in Marius’ case, this is a big advantage as he sometimes gets calls in the middle of the night from the night shift. In this case, the glasses offer the perfect solution to resolve an issue the fastest way possible.

Besides productivity gains, using smart glasses also allows the company to offer better training and new employee onboarding. With branches spread around all across the country, it oftentimes occurs that the Johannesburg location needs assistance from the main headquarters in Cape Town and vice versa. Here, one technician wears the glasses while the other provides instant feedback and like this, they train each other from a distance. Here again, the smart glasses offer a viable solution to connect technicians from a distance and to quickly share tribal knowledge.

Smart glasses: A long term cost-saving solution

For Molenaar, using smart glasses has been a win-win for both their own technicians and their clients. Not only do their own employees save a huge amount of time on traveling, but also travel expenses are pushed back to a minimum. “The price of a pair of smart glasses compared over the long term with plane tickets and other travel costs is remarkable”, Marius adds. “It's a much better cost-savings alternative.”

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Published on Jan 31, 2022