The Microsoft HoloLens achieved time and efficiency savings when service technicians trialed the mixed reality headset, says Sascha Froemming, head of innovation and sustainability management at Thyssenkrupp Elevator.
Why did you decide to trial the HoloLens system?
In simple terms, to improve the work of our onsite service technicians by using remote expert support. The more complex reason was to connect our predictive elevator maintenance system, MAX, that connects sensors in elevators to Microsoft’s Azure IoT platform, with the daily business.
How was the system used by your engineers during the trials?
Field tests were carried out during their daily business. HoloLens conveyed all information and statistics collected by MAX to service technicians, giving them a detailed view of an elevator and its history and visualisations of the parts of the elevator that needed to be replaced before failure. A key HoloLens feature is remote support, it gave our technicians hands-free access to technical and expert information when on site.
What were the main benefits of the system?
Some replacements that usually take around four hours were completed in just 30 minutes, and technicians were able to do their jobs more safely and efficiently. We expect the system will give customers the advantage of increased elevator efficiency, more elevator uptime and faster service interventions.
It looks like something from a science fiction film, did people struggle to get to grips with the interface?
No, in fact the opposite, people became familiar with the key functions of the device very quickly. The mixed reality of having normal surroundings overlaid with holographics offers numerous advantages compared to the traditional method of working using a laptop and a phone.
What are your plans to use HoloLens in future?
The device is set to empower more than 24,000 of our service technicians. In addition, we see it as a big support tool for training and education. Theoretical content can be mixed with practical experiences, it enables us to demonstrate all of our products in a detailed way, no matter where we are globally.
How could the system be improved?
As the technology evolves over time, a potential next step would be to minimise the hardware, making it even more comfortable to wear.
In the future, do you think all engineers will use HoloLens, or similar systems?
This is a milestone for the elevator service industry and a revolution for our business. Rapid urbanisation across the globe means that our cities are getting bigger and taller, making it essential to tap into the power of technology to reduce overcrowding and move people in the most efficient way possible. Integrating the Internet of Things with solutions like MAX and HoloLens is an important part of the solution.