Augmented reality becomes service reality

Augmented reality is now rapidly becoming part of VIKING’s product approvals and service.

Providing customers with the best possible service involves constant vigilance but also the flexibility to look beyond preferring solutions because ‘we’ve always done it this way’. During recent internal discussions to identify how digital technology could benefit its clients, VIKING identified augmented reality (AR) as a progressive and cost-efficient way to deliver enhanced expert oversight and engineering precision in its product approvals and service activities.

"This technology carries the potential to streamline our operations across the board, improving the efficiency and overall quality of our processes - both internal and external - and reducing our reliance on inperson collaboration.”

Alexander Gundersen, Sales Director Offshore Boats & MES

Having researched and assessed the various AR solutions on the market, VIKING opted for Microsoft’s offering, “HoloLens”. Described by Microsoft itself as a “mixed reality” tool, HoloLens takes the form of a head-mounted device that can superimpose information and images over reality or even simulate the user’s surroundings entirely. It also allows wearers to share what they see with others via a web application. VIKING ordered two units and began experimenting. Not long later, the coronavirus pandemic struck.

From on-site service to remote

System testing and service can be performed on-site and monitored, supervised, and validated from one or more remote locations.

augmented reality service remote

We were in the trial phase, getting to grips with the product to see which processes we could apply it to and how it might benefit us and our customers,” says VIKING business process specialist Christian Kromann. 

“But then came the Covid-19 crisis – along with the resulting travel restrictions and social-distancing regulations.” It was at this point, says Kromann, that his colleague Alexander Gundersen proposed a use case for HoloLens that would enable VIKING to continue providing a crucial service despite the challenges facing the company and its customers.

“Our experience with HoloLens so far has encouraged us to explore other avenues for the technology.”

Christian Kromann, Business Process Specialist


Gundersen, VIKING Sales Director Offshore Boats & MES, suggested deploying HoloLens in factory acceptance testing, a procedure that would ordinarily benefit from the client’s presence on site. By using the device in FATs, VIKING would sustain its ability to offer high-quality service for customers facing travel bans. “When clients were unable to visit our premises previously, we would send them photographs and videos of the FAT process,” explains Kromann.

“This was a practical solution, but it didn’t give the customer a real world view of proceedings.”

In contrast, HoloLens promises a “shared point of reference” that would enable everyone involved in the procedure to feel as if they were physically present. Initial demonstrations proved successful, and the product was soon deployed in genuine, “digital” FATs. “We used HoloLens to perform digital acceptance testing for our offshore customers in Singapore, Denmark, the United States, and Canada,” says Alexander Gundersen. “They had never seen FATs conducted in this way before, and their feedback was extremely positive.”

So impressed were VIKING’s clients, in fact, that some of those previously insisting on being physically present for FATs expressed a preference for the virtual method – irrespective of travel and working regulations.

“The user has all the information they need right before their eyes, and since their field of vision is shared digitally, people who would normally be unable to attend the FAT due to the cost of travel can now participate and offer helpful input,” explains Gundersen. “The standard of the service is therefore enhanced while the costs and environmental impact associated with flying are removed from the equation. We can even record the entire process for educational and quality-assurance purposes.”

FAT future

Despite VIKING’s novel approach to factory acceptance testing already proving popular, Gundersen feels that there is plenty more to come from the company’s application of HoloLens. “We are still in the early stages of deployment. As we continue to use the platform for FATs, the process will become faster, more accurate, and generally more refined,” he says.“It helps that our customers in the offshore segment, which itself is a frontrunner in maritime digitalization, are so open to the possibilities of this new product.” 

Kromann agrees, highlighting additional procedures and services that HoloLens could support. “Our experience with HoloLens so far has encouraged us to explore other avenues for the technology,” he says. “For example, we are currently trialing a use case in which production staff can use the device to assist in PPE manufacturing. If questions arise during the manufacturing process, they can quickly contact the specialists at headquarters, share their field of vision with them and receive live, step-by-step guidance.”

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