In the world of strategic energy management (SEM), many practitioners have found ways to leverage new technology to continue helping participants remotely. At Cascade Energy, we have been experimenting with “wearable tech” and developing some tips and tricks along the way.
Early in the pandemic, it became clear if we wanted to continue our SEM work while adhering to the relevant COVID-19 safety protocols, we would have to figure out a way to do our treasure hunts virtually. The treasure hunt, typically one of the first steps in an SEM engagement, is a guided site tour of the participating facility to learn about their industrial processes, where we basically ask “why” a few hundred times a day, seeking opportunities for energy savings (the treasure, if you will). Running these tours effectively without being on site, though, proved challenging.
For industrial sites, so many of the energy saving opportunities are found by physically following the process or product flow, noting equipment and technologies being used, workflow and process bottlenecks, employee workarounds, and control settings. Without the ability to walk through a facility, it’s harder to find those opportunities that the plant staff simply “don’t see” anymore, because they’ve been looking at them for years.
We decided to purchase and pilot a realwear-brand HMT-1 – a WiFi-connected Head-Mounted Tablet that clips to a hardhat or is worn using a head harness and allows the wearer to take Cascade engineers on a virtual tour of their facility.
The device transmits video and voice from the wearer, so the remote team essentially sees what the wearer sees. The unit also has a small video display located just in front of the wearer’s face, which creates a screen size similar to a 7” tablet. Using voice rather than touch, the wearer can interact with the tablet display (e.g. calling up files, turning pages of scanned drawings or manuals, interacting with websites, etc.) while they walk around.
Based on our initial experience, the best things about the HMT compared to a phone or tablet are:
During a virtual-tour of a wastewater facility using HMT-1 device, the operator stopped to show a sludge hopper and explain related potential water savings.
Here the operator has moved in closer to show the water connection.
The view from the realwear HMT-1 video device as our guide “followed the pipe.
It has proven to be an effective method for coaches, tech leads, and subject matter experts to interact with field staff on virtual treasure hunts. Additionally, since the feed can be recorded, snips of video can be used for training, sharing with more site staff, and obtaining additional help from experts who weren’t available at the time of the walkthrough.
We are happy to share what we’re learning as the world moves toward virtual and augmented reality more and more every day, pandemic or not! Send us a message.