Following Industry 4.0 trends, Poland’s mining equipment and technology major FAMUR says it is systematically developing training tools using virtual reality, remote diagnostics and field service smart glasses technology to operate equipment for various industry sectors. As part of this activity, it developed and implemented a concept to create an innovative SIGMA (Service in Grid Monitoring Area) room.
It is an idea based on the use of modern technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR), Webex, smart glasses and smart mining. The SIGMA room allows users to collaborate online with customers, provides real-time analysis of machine parameters, and enables users to connect with an operator equipped with field service smart glasses from anywhere in the world. For several months, the SIGMA hall has been hosting training sessions, conferences and meetings with both Polish and foreign customers.
The Service in Grid Monitoring Area (SIGMA) room has been in operation in the Katowice headquarters of the FAMUR Group since September 2021. “It has been used for training sessions on the operation of machines and equipment manufactured by the company as well as for internal and external meetings. Top-quality equipment enables field service optimisation through efficient diagnostics and technical support for customers in various industries.”
“Today’s technology opens up many possibilities. The solutions used in the SIGMA room enable us to meet with service departments and customers from all over the world. We are one of the first companies in Poland offering products for industry to use smart grid tools in customer relations. This allows us not only to conduct quick on-line diagnostics, but also to support customers and service staff in solving problems,” explains Grzegorz Marcinkowski, Central Service Department Director at FAMUR SA. “By using virtual reality devices, we can conduct training safely and effectively. Using VR goggles in the SIGMA room, trainees can see 3D models of our equipment and learn how to maintain, operate and repair it,” he adds.
The SIGMA room is equipped with Webex Room Kit Pro, the latest system from the American IT company Cisco. Webex specialises in smart training and teleconference rooms. The software enables not only video and audio sharing, but also conducting secure web meetings on the cloud. It does not require the installation of additional plug-ins and software, the users can join meetings via a computer, browser or smartphone. The infrastructure of the SIGMA room also includes a set of 5K Ultra HD cameras with an 86-degree field of view and the system for framing and tracking the speakers. “Additionally, we have Full HD PTZ cameras with 20x zoom. Ceiling-mounted microphones and speakers are governed by an advanced audio processor that allows participants to conduct meetings and communicate from anywhere in the room. Training materials as well as service processes can be presented on 4K monitors.”
One of the key features of the SIGMA room is the ability to communicate with the Vuzix M400 smart glasses (for field service), allowing service technicians and customers equipped with these glasses to receive remote support while working on the machine – for troubleshooting or during routine operations. The glasses feature a built-in OLED display, a high-end 4K camera with image stabilisation and autofocus for faster scanning and wider viewing angles, triple microphone noise cancellation, and high volume speakers for use in spaces with high noise levels.
“In case there is a need for supporting the service staff working on the machine, the service technician can use the glasses to connect with engineers in our company who, by viewing the situation from his perspective, can provide full technical support in real time. By seeing the machine through the eyes of the user, an expert is able to determine what service work is required. In the near future, we will develop the potential offered by the technologies used in the SIGMA room even further,” says Marcinkowski.
Eight qualified specialists from various areas of activity of the FAMUR Group are currently working with the system and conducting training sessions. “The SIGMA room extends the offer for our customers, and remote handling of the processes allows to significantly increase the efficiency of operations by, for example, shortening the time of servicing. With the technology implemented in the SIGMA room, we can connect with foreign service centres, which provide support to customers in field service or equipment repair. This is an important optimisation, as we used to have situations in which just getting from this country to the machine’s working location took several days. The functionality of the new room increases the quality of customer service and enables us to provide quick assistance to our partners,” concludes Marcinkowski.