At Aalberts integrated piping systems, we always keep our eyes open for technological opportunities that help us deliver vital innovations. As we are expanding our business from the Netherlands to the United States, we begin using augmented reality glasses to train colleagues and better solve operational issues.
Think of augmented reality and many of us think of science fiction films. But for Aalberts integrated piping systems, it’s more science reality than science fiction. “We develop a lot of technology 2.0, in the Netherlands, and recently expanded in the United States (US) ,” says Robert Stouwdam, business unit director within Aalberts integrated piping systems. “We are installing new equipment at the US operations and we need to instruct people on how to use it. Following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, we’ve been faced with the dilemma of how to train colleagues when travel is so limited. So we decided to research and introduce the Microsoft HoloLens, which are mixed reality smartglasses.”
Training colleagues on the other side of the world is just one of many applications that the team envisages for the new technology. “The HoloLens is plug-and-play, so it can also be used to help technicians in the factory or in the field who need assistance. Once they have the glasses on they can connect with a colleague who can see what the technician sees,” Robert says. “The colleague can then give them expert guidance on how to solve the problem. And because the technicians in the field are being guided by more knowledgeable colleagues, we’ll have a higher right-first-time rate, which increases quality levels. We also plan to roll it out to suppliers, which will let suppliers work on improvements remotely. And the technology has many other advantages. Because we can connect remotely it saves on travel, which reduces emissions, contributes to our sustainability goals, and cuts costs. This is a truly exciting development which I believe will make us even more competitive.”