Saargummi Neo chooses Moverio
High-tech communication with Moverio AR glasses
CQLT SaarGummi Technologies, headquartered in Luxembourg, is an expert in sealing systems. It chose Epson's Moverio smart glasses to roll out a remote support programme to its global offices.
The company is a leading supplier to the automotive and construction industries and employs about 6,500 people in 21 locations worldwide.
CQLT Saargummi includes SG NEO, a fledgling R&D department that deals with the development of new solutions and the implementation of pilot projects. One of the company's focuses is the development of solutions using the latest technology and methods from Industry 4.0, 3D printing and Augmented Reality (AR).
"In the development of the 'Saargummi Remote Support Glasses', our primary aim was to establish an quick and easy way to communicate with colleagues around the world," explains Volker Schumacher, Innovation Scout and Global Program Key Account at SG NEO. With this solution, which is based on the Moverio BT-300 augmented reality glasses, Schumacher and his team have created a standalone communications solution which will be delivered to each of the 21 branches worldwide. The application runs on a web app created by external developer IKS-Computer and allows fast, fault-tolerant communication between locations.
Use of the "Remote Support Glasses" requires employees on site to put on the AR Glasses and, with the aid of the web app, to open reliable, flexible communications with head office. The image recorded by the camera on the AR Glasses is transmitted to the host computer in the headquarters. In addition, bi-directional audio communication is possible. This is used in a variety of scenarios.
Schumacher says: "Quite often, our customers in the automotive sector, for example, would like to learn about parts of the production process. In this case, an employee in, say, Mexico, can put on the glasses and, guided by us in Saarland, walk through the plant. They can see the details and the plant can be presented interactively."
Another application is for in-house services, in the event of a failure in part of the plant, for example. Here too, the Saargummi AR solution means initial investigations can easily be made.
Finally, it is used for direct interaction between the Group's supply companies.
"We receive some components ourselves from external companies. These companies send their products directly to the respective production facilities to save time," says Schumacher.
"If any difficulties or enquiries arise, we can equip the remote solution to quickly resolve any issues."
Fault-tolerant, reliable operation and the highest possible acceptance on the part of the workforce played a vital role in the development of the solution.
Schumacher explains: "The simplicity of our solutions encourages our employees to use them, as a high-end solution that is unused because it's too complicated or too uncomfortable helps no one."
Schumacher adds: "Picture someone walking through a production plant with a smartphone camera – everyone feels watched or obstructed, and in our experience, it just does not work."
The comfortable fit of the Moverio smart glasses was an important element in the acceptance of the BT-300 solution. The lightweight frame and the ability of glasses-wearers to use them also contributed to user acceptance.
Moverio also fulfilled safety requirements, as the semi-transparent lenses enable it to be used, even when employees are moving through a production plant. It's a requirement of all production facilities around the world that, when moving through a factory, employees can perceive their environment directly and not just through a monitor.
One further plus is the simple and intuitive nature of the solution, as an equal level of education across all employees on site cannot be assumed. And tedious and costly training should be avoided. The handy touchpad of the BT-300 and the intuitive operation of its software easily meets this requirement, as its very similar to a smartphone to operate.
On a general level, the Saargummi Remote Support Glasses are particularly suitable for quickly bringing together professionals from different sectors without incurring travel costs. This saves time and money, and also helps the company to meet its CSR goals.
Johannes Backes, Managing Director of IKS-Computer GmbH, the developer of the software for the AR solution, adds: "We wanted to work together with Saargummi to develop the simplest possible tool to use the glasses in the desired way. The Android-based BT-300 is very well suited to this, and there were no problems implementing our software."
One of Saargummi's requirements for the solution was that the camera should have a minimum resolution of 720p – a higher resolution is desirable, but not necessarily effective, as the existing Wireless LAN connection limits the data rate in some locations. This meant a working compromise had to be found. The Moverio smart glasses made this possible with easy access to the camera functionality.
"We can take and transmit a picture with our software exactly when we want to via the Epson interface standard – which means no unnecessary overheads," says Backes.
Some specifications for the next version of the Saargummi Remote Support Solution are already being planned.
"Next, we would like to expand the solution so that we can display different media in the employees' field of view," says Schumacher.
"It's helpful to be able to show manuals, pictures or even short clips to the employees' in their field of view. We'll be able to do this the BT-300 smart glasses. We're very satisfied with the solution."