TÜV SÜD, a trusted partner of choice for safety, security and sustainability solutions has deployed RealWear assisted reality devices across its nuclear business. The international company with its headquarters in Germany is using the devices, running remote expert support software oculavis SHARE to remotely test, inspect and certify technical systems, facilities and objects of all kinds to minimise hazards and prevent damages.
The Nuclear Power and Decommissioning Business Line of TÜV SÜD, which has roughly 500 experts, has been providing support to the nuclear industry and innovating within the nuclear science field for more than 50 years. Under its remit, the division is tasked with inspecting the components for nuclear plants and its overall operations and decommissioning of nuclear facilities. The division continually inspects power plants and facilities throughout their entire life cycle.
When travel restrictions brought on by the pandemic impacted the firm’s ability to perform its traditional inspection process, it hoped to carry out inspections remotely. Its innovation management team researched a variety of smart glasses solutions before approaching oculavis, a German software vendor who works closely with RealWear on an integrated solution. TÜV SÜD selected a fleet of RealWear HMT-1 assisted reality devices due to its rugged, durable design. The selected software, oculavis SHARE, enables remote guidance for visually connecting experts and technicians and provides self-guided augmented reality workflows and step-by-step instructions to make technical knowledge directly accessible to the wearer, without the need to call an expert.
“The pandemic was a major accelerator for the adoption of wearables for our division, as we quickly realised the value that it brought to our entire operations,” commented Christoph Gatzen, Head of I&C and Electrical Division and of the Inspection Body according to DIN EN ISO/IEC 17020 at TÜV SÜD Energietechnik GmbH. “For TÜV SÜD, it’s important that we ensure our customers know we are up to date with the latest technology. We are a modern company that continually looks to invest in digital transformation for the benefit of our end customers.”
Because the nuclear industry is highly regulated for both personnel and environmental safety, it is only allowed to use specially qualified nuclear equipment for safety-related components. An inspection – conducted by TÜV SÜD – to assess the safety and quality of a newly built nuclear power plant prior to the deployment of RealWear would typically involve costly travel to various factories involved in the production process, as plants are stationed all over the world and the number of nuclear experts is limited. As a result, a formal inspection requires time-consuming travel.
“TÜV SÜD has always had a mission of protecting people from technology-related risks and now it is using technology to allow it to continue working in a safer, more sustainable way,” says Christoph Gatzen.
oculavis SHARE on RealWear’s assisted reality solution enabled TÜV SÜD to offer a remote inspection service. Distance no longer became a barrier as global experts could view what an onsite inspector, wearing RealWear’s HMT-1, was seeing from anywhere in the world. The HMT-1 also provides the ability for videos and pictures to be taken by the wearer and shared with an expert.
Since deploying the technology TÜV SÜD’s nuclear business has witnessed significant benefits. A recent project using remote collaboration saved seven intercontinental flights alone. The cost and environmental benefits for both TÜV SÜD and the end customer were significant, saving roughly 11 hours of travel time and approximately four thousand euros per flight. The technology has also offered safety benefits in that it can be operated hands-free, ensuring that the wearer is not distracted whilst carrying out an inspection.
“Now that TÜV SÜD is familiar with assisted reality, it sees a number of possible benefits for it and its customers,” said Jon Arnold, Vice President of EMEA, RealWear Inc. “In particular the ability to be directly connected with an expert and solve a problem, all via a simple phone call.”
“Remote inspections are a top application for RealWear and oculavis SHARE. After thorough market research, TÜV SÜD also decided in favour of oculavis, confirming our position as a market leader with our Enterprise Remote Assistance solution oculavis SHARE,” said Markus Große Böckmann, Founder & Managing Director, oculavis.
As part of its continued digital transformation plans, TÜV SÜD is looking to define further use cases for the solution. In addition to using the technology for remote inspections within its nuclear division, the company has deployed 100 devices to date across a number of its business lines including automotive, windmills, medical, real estate, oil & gas, rail and chemical services.