With Augmented Reality Headsets, Swagelok Field Service Technicians Assist from Miles Away
by Katie Reid, on Thu, Sep 10, 2020 @ 15:09 PM
Wearing a hands-free computer, a single field services technician can bring a world of expertise onsite
Above: Edmonton Valve & Fitting's certified field service technician, Tom Webster at a customer's facility. Historically, evaluation and advisory services started with field engineering teams visiting in person. Now one field service technician with advanced technology can bring her team onsite virtually. We started implementing AR-enhanced visits in 2019 then accelerated roll out in light of Covid-19.
With customers in oil & gas, petrochemical, R&D, and power applications, Edmonton Valve associates are no strangers to situations that make group onsite visits challenging. Even if a customer’s facility isn’t ultra remote, access may be restricted for other reasons.
That’s why we stepped up our investment in virtual visits last year, well before COVID-19. With the right technology, one field service technician can visit you while supported by a remote, digitally connected team.
COVID has made in-person visits more of a challenge for more of our customers. But with advanced headsets on, we can continue to work as a team to solve fluid system challenges. In fact, we may be delivering the advice customers need faster and more cost-effectively with AR-enhanced visits.
Global network with specific areas of expertise
“We have certified field service technicians based all over the world, and we have built a community to support one another while tapping into each other’s specific areas of expertise to solve customers’ problems,” explains Stacey Phillips, Swagelok’s field engineering manager for the Americas. “We started looking into virtual connectivity technology last year to help us work together more seamlessly, realizing it would not only help us share knowledge and experiences, but maintain consistency and quality in the services we provide to customers. We invested in the AR headset technology, and when COVID-19 hit, we had a great option available to provide value to customers from a distance.”
If Stacey’s name sounds familiar, it may be because she joined Edmonton Valve in 2007. For years she led our custom solutions cell. She has particularly deep expertise in custom solutions and analytical instrumentation systems and assemblies for companies in oil & gas, chemical & refining, and general industry.
Inside Swagelok's first official AR-assisted onsite
Earlier this summer, Stacey led Swagelok’s first official semi-virtual onsite service visit by the Swagelok field services team. The virtual onsite took place at a natural gas processing facility in Alberta. Usually, several other technicians would accompany her to provide additional perspective on the fluid systems and analytical equipment she would be evaluating. This time she visited alone, wearing an augmented reality (AR) collaboration headset.
As she conducted a thorough evaluation of analytical instruments and areas of concern throughout the facility, Stacey fed colleagues from around the world live video of everything she saw, discussed sampling system design parameters with her team, zoomed her camera in on various fluid system components using voice controls, and exchanged chat messages with colleagues via arm-mounted visual display.
While they weren't all onsite, the rest of the team was able to work together to help the customer resolve issues affecting their operations.
(Even if your facility is completely closed to visitors, we can make it work. We are determined to meet each work site's specific requirements and can be flexible in making that happen.)
Since the AR services engagement in Alberta, other field service technicians have used augmented reality headsets for evaluation and advisory service calls in other parts of the world. These other evaluations are also showing promise for getting customers quick recommendations to improve their fluid systems—sometimes even the same day.
Learn more about Swagelok field engineering
Our field service technicians evaluate fluid or sampling systems in person or remotely, advise on installation practices, and recommend system enhancements. All our findings are delivered in a detailed report, usually with photos, cost/savings calculations, suggested top priority action items, and best practices guidance.