Looking to drive product and sustainability improvements, a Japanese based customer invested in Ultraseal International’s porosity sealing technology. Then COVID struck, restricting international travel and preventing both the customer’s inspection visits to the UK, and Ultraseal’s engineering and installation presence in Japan.
To protect the investment and ensure the project continued on schedule, virtual technology was called into action. This exceeded expectation and has now become part of Ultraseal’s offer, bringing unprecedented benefits to customers’ worldwide. And it’s only just the beginning…
The customer is a privately owned and established Japanese company, offering machining to a wide range of sectors, not least automotive. Along with a strong focus on quality, they have an unswerving commitment to sustainability and the environment. These factors were behind their decision to invest in next generation sealing technology capable of delivering both commercial and sustainability benefits. Their solution of choice was Ultraseal’s Semi-Automatic C size (1 m cubed payload) impregnation system, combined with Ultraseal’s pioneering sealant recycling technology.
In normal times, the customer would visit Ultraseal’s UK site to undertake factory acceptance testing (FAT) before the equipment could be approved and shipped to Japan. However, the emergence of COVID prevented international travel, causing potential delays in the project – both for inspection, installation and even maintenance, as Ultraseal’s qualified engineers were also prohibited from entering Japan during the pandemic.
In looking for a solution to this challenge, Ultraseal embraced virtual technology in the shape of Microsoft’s HoloLens 2. As in many cases where need drives innovation, this resulted in powerful benefits and a whole new approach.
The key to solving the challenges presented by COVID was the ability to work remotely. To do so necessitated powerful technology, and this was provided by HoloLens 2. Developed by a partnership between Microsoft and MicroVision, HoloLens 2 is essentially a pair of mixed reality smart glasses which displays a layer of digital information on top of your real world by rendering high-definition holograms that stay where you put them and respond like physical objects when you interact with or gesture to them. It also has the ability to allow others to see through somebody else’s eyes, via a PC/ Device anywhere in the world, while they are wearing the HoloLens 2.
In practical terms, this meant an Ultraseal engineer could inspect the equipment in the UK factory, while also giving the same experience to a team of engineers in Japan. They were able to ‘walk around’ the equipment, check items for inclusion and view each module for functionality including running processes, creating faults and testing the system for reliability and performance.
While the time taken to accept and sign off high value equipment differs between projects, it typically involves two to three people across an entire working week. During the pandemic this was clearly multiplied, owing to the need for personnel to self-isolate after travel, with both inbound and outbound flights. By using HoloLens 2, acceptance testing was achieved within just 1 day, eliminating expensive costs and delays.
Explains Kashiwa San, Ultraseal Japan Branch Manager: “With low costs, accelerated timeframes and zero airmiles and carbon footprint, we were able to fully support the customers’ environmental commitment while also ensuring the project remained firmly on track. To date, the customer has only used HoloLens 2 for remote acceptance testing, but we’re also in discussions about using if for maintenance, giving immediate access to engineering support and opening up wider cost and productivity improvements, all of which will feed into their sustainability agenda.”