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Microsoft’s new HoloLens
A few years ago, Meco Plating Group, a subsidiary of BE Semiconductor Industries (Besi), started using Microsoft’s HoloLens 1, a powerful Mixed Reality IoT tool. Together with InSpark, Besi developed a special HoloLens app for the visualization of maintenance data on their machines. The result: significant time and cost savings, because standard machine maintenance and servicing now takes place remotely.
Now the new HoloLens 2, with a much wider range of features and technical possibilities, has entered the market. HoloLens 2 recognizes many new gestures, has depth detection (with a new sensor) and uses eye tracking. In addition, user recognition and real-time biometrics protection have been strongly improved. With HoloLens 2 Besi will therefore be able to offer its customers significantly more: intensive remote customer support, prototyping (R&D) and extensive on-site diagnostics.
Besi’s Remote Assist app
“Remote Assist” is a Microsoft 3D mixed reality solution, with which you can provide all the necessary expertise and service remotely. Anyplace, anytime. Technicians, maintenance inspectors or service employees can dial in via the HoloLens (but also with a cell phone or laptop) and be virtually present at the customer location.
Besi and InSpark – again in close cooperation – developed a new app to provide this virtual support from any location. If a customer has an issue with a certain business process or machine, that problem can now be easily tracked and analyzed remotely. Besi engineers can, next to making video calls, also make 3D annotations, share photos and videos, and – if necessary – have other experts call in. All this, while looking directly through the eyes of the customer at (and even in) the machine.
“If the user is wearing the HoloLens, the person dialing in to the HoloLens can see exactly what the wearer of the HoloLens also sees. In addition, he can take notes or point things out in the image that the user sees. This way, faults can be easily remedied, even from a remote location.”
Kees Verhagen, Software Control Developer at Meco Equipment Engineers
Advantages of Remote Assist
Currently the Besi management is focusing on reducing the number of business trips of (maintenance) employees. With the new HoloLens Remote Assist app a physical visit to the location in question is no longer necessary. In addition to a significant cost reduction, this also results in environmental benefits as well as an increase in productivity.
“We operate all over the world, so for us the added value of the HoloLens is huge. Because of the increased flexibility you can now easily support a colleague on the other side of the world – in a different time zone. But in the end we want to grow toward a situation in which the customer can also use the system himself.”
Ruben Tibben (Vice President Besi Plating)
Kees Verhagen adds:
“With our new HoloLens 2 app we can visualize important process data on top of the real world. The customer puts on the HoloLens, starts the app, walks past a machine and immediately sees all the important data, such as the temperature of a process bot. If necessary, he can also make immediate adjustments. The added value of the HoloLens 2 app lies not only in the display of process data; also the various process functions and malfunctions can be color-coded within the image. This way the customer can instantly see where the problem is.”
Besi has significantly reduced its ecological footprint. Ruben says enthusiastically: “In this world, the overall footprint of your business activity is extremely important. Less traveling, less flying, more at a distance, more in the cloud. With Remote Assist we have now been able to reduce our footprint even further. This is an absolutely essential tool, especially in the current corona crisis period, a time in which we can hardly travel at all.”
Development through cooperation
The development of such a new, company-specific app is, of course, an intensive operation. Ruben Tibben says:
“In the beginning we were still searching: how do we turn an idea into something tangible? And is our idea really the right one? This is exactly where InSpark’s strength lies. InSpark not only provides the expertise and the necessary infrastructure, but also offers intensive guidance throughout the entire process, right up to the end result. That, combined with our own knowledge of our machines and software, makes this application development a true success. And I am truly proud of that. We are the first within Besi to have achieved this. Really a very nice result!”