Remote Expert Support with Wireless Mobile Voice and Video

20131003-085912.jpgEmerson’s Neil Peterson shares how wireless technologies are improving remote expert support. His abstract:

The wireless Mobile Voice and Video solution is geared to provide Field Technicians immediate real time remote support from subject matter Experts anywhere, anytime, to avoid lost production time, conduct process machine maintenance or remote training while reducing the time and money involved with Expert travel. This session will demonstrate the capabilities of the solution and provide examples of savings realized in having immediate access to an Expert by a Field Technician using secure wireless Mobile Voice and Video communications.

Neil began by defining the issues process manufacturers face. 40% of the workforce is retiring in many industries. Engineers are becoming more generalized as there are fewer numbers and therefore there are less deep subject matter experts. Plants are being built where the experts aren’t. Studies indicate that it takes 7 years to become fully competent in an automation role.

A solution that has emerged is a mobile worker with a portable PC with a high definition camera which looks out from the worker to the process–sharing what he sees with the remote expert. Neil indicated the secret sauce is a mesh network to stream the video and audio for high bandwidth communications between the mobile worker and the remote expert.

The solution is called immersive mobile telepresence–a fully integrated high-definition (HD) end-to-end solution. It supports one-to-one or many-to-many interactive audio and video communications. These communications are fully encrypted via 128 AES technology.

The application is viewable through web browsers and can integrate with the control system at the glass. Right now the application is rated for ATEX Zone 2 hazardous areas, but does not yet have Class 1, Division 2 certification.

A question was asked if it supports worker-to-worker communications, and Neil shared that it did. It’s part of the many-to-many communications between mobile workers and remote experts. A question was asked about battery life. The solution has two batteries, each battery has 2 hours of continuous life. In a non-hazardous area, the batteries can be hot-swapped to continue communications.

The mesh network to support the HD communications through 802.11 a/b/g/n (wi-fi) and 3G/4G cellular and the backend network can includes wi-fi mesh, microwave, fiber, and satellite.

The remote expert through their HD view can interact, even by drawing on the screen to point to the item that needs work, such as a screw.

Some use cases include complex machinery that requires troubleshooting and first responder view into plant accidents or emergencies,

He described a FPSO application where a wifi network was run throughout the ship. The mobile worker have a wireless video camera which could stream video and audio back to a central expert on the vessel. Another application was training where the instructor wears the mobile worker solution and streams what they are teaching to the remote students.

Neil indicated that this solution is in its third version and has been in use solving some of these issues described above. At the iOps center in Austin, Texas the team can remotely demonstrate some of these capabilities to help process manufacturers evaluate the solution. It all boils down to connecting remote experts with local operations and maintenance personnel to improve operations at a lower cost than can be done today through physical travel.

2 comments

Leave a Reply