In the utility space, augmented reality is providing valuable insights that come into action while field technicians are all set with on-demand knowledge recommendations.
FREMONT, CA: Augmented Reality (AR) is a technology that raises digital information and media, such as 3D models and videos, upon the real world via a tablet, PC, smartphone, or connected glasses. Prime movers in the utility industry are exploring with the most advanced wearable technologies that will integrate the real world with the digital and bring utility operations into the modern era. The utility industry is confronting challenges, including a rapidly retiring workforce and decades-old infrastructure. AR benefits investor-owned, municipal, and cooperative utilities in enhancing business processes. It can speed power recovery and help address the hurdle of aging, retiring utility workforce by expediting the preservation of institutional knowledge. According to the industry specialists, the energy and the utility sector are anticipated to spend more than $15 billion annually by 2020 on AR technology.
AR and VR technologies are facilitating an outcome-based integration of competency and real-time risk assessment. This results in a multi-billion dollar division within the wide spectrum of automation solutions the utility and energy sector is increasingly harnessing up for. In the prolonged run, these emerging technologies like VR, AR, AI, robotics, and digital transformation will draw in acceleration in revenue growth, enhance risk management, and increase organizations’ agility. The utility industry confronts some significant workforce difficulties ahead as the baby boomers retire. AR can be utilized in training employees and helping new workers. 2D diagrams of complicated components can be supplemented with 3D models. Employees can interact and rotate with the 3D models to obtain a better perception of the equipment. This facilitates faster information retention and in-depth training. Employees tend to develop their proficiency faster than with conventional training approaches. Another opportunity is to expedite equipment maintenance. With AR, technicians in the field have instant access to expert knowledge.
Technicians are extending a 3D model on an original piece of equipment. They are also viewing the internal elements of equipment and exploring its interior workings. System upgrades and repairs are more durable than ever before. Also, the AR is providing data, showing the asset type, maintenance history, its product number, and so forth to streamline ordering replacements. The field technician can instantly order the suitable parts and assemble the crew with the specialized skills to expedite repairs and power restoration much quicker than a manual response can. There are advancements on different AR devices from holographic displays, heads-up displays (HUD), smart glasses to handheld or smartphone-based. There are also systems being outlined that integrate GIS technology with AR to display infrastructures such as lines, pipes, cables, and other assets in-field and in real-time. These devices are so efficient that a tap or eye-flick or audio command can call up the guidance manual.
AR also comes into action while a field technician is in position but lacks the knowledge, expertise, or access to data needed. An AR equipped glasses or mobile device allows a subject matter expert to guide the field technician on what measures to take. The technology also advances operational safety, enabling for better visualization of complex components and underground assets, alleviating accidents. The Internet of Things (IoT) is even playing its role by putting together different networks, devices, and databases to offer data-driven insights. Asset management, distribution management systems, outage management systems, geographic information systems, and other existing utility applications will enhance with new data sources by combining the current and modern utility systems. These, in turn, will strengthen the AR overlays and virtual subject matter specialist as well.
AR and its variants, VR assisted reality, and mixed reality is set to take off prominently and offers to bring in increased value to the energy sector. The enterprise is ready for disruption from AR, which guarantees to make workflows more productive and safer, and workers more fruitful. With systems and devices now having reached an affordable cost point, these solutions that enable knowledge sharing and make workplace potency tools are great possibilities for investment on the technological aspect. Successful implementation of AR needs utilities to establish a conventional governance structure by a committee that enables the technology to develop and thrive at an organizational scale. The technology is in its nascent platform, and most of the businesses lack in-house AR/VR expertise. Companies must conduct specialized education in building internal aptitudes. Businesses can also outsource or collaborate with specialized teams and enterprises to leverage talent and technology. A centralized unit can influence the overall planning and execution, enhancing governance, and making the most beneficial use of resources.
Augmented and virtual reality devices are amongst the most cutting-edge technologies in today’s consumer-centric landscape. Electric utilities have never been known as prime adopters of such technology, but that does not mean they must always be late to every party. Innovative hardware enhancements and growing software applications integrated with reducing costs have opened the door for utilities to be pioneers in the deployment of industrial digital reality technology. Modern key applications will drive utility interest in digital reality deployment in terms of training and marketing among others.