Eye In The Sky Unites Digital Supply Chain With Cloud Experts

Rosina Geiger

One key part of today’s global supply chain is in low supply: the experts who keep it running. Rare and far-flung are the specialized technical experts who troubleshoot jet engines, interpret the sounds of an industrial printing press, and whisper to the uncooperative, industrial robot.

But even if you’re lucky enough to find your experts, there’s no guarantee you’ll get them to come to your factory floor. And if you do, you’ll pay for the privilege. For industries that lack internal expertise, the challenges – and the consultant invoices – can really add up.

Digital omnipresence

Enter Visual Mobility, Inc. (VMI). The San Diego-based startup uses what it calls “digital omnipresence” to bridge the gap between supply chains and supply chain experts. It’s completely transforming the way businesses run their manufacturing operations. Now, highly qualified technicians can analyze, maintain, and repair the complex capital equipment from anywhere while showing a full-time, on-site employee exactly what to do.

“By making expertise ubiquitous, VMI is removing one of the last major barriers to realizing a free-flowing digital supply chain,” says Joy Ghosh, COO & VP products. “Now businesses across all industries are free to seek out the very best business opportunities and break into new markets. It’s very attractive.”

Ghost in the machine

The VMI SEENiX remote assisted reality platform allows onsite technicians to capture real-time, situational intelligence. They can then quickly and efficiently perform necessary repairs and maintenance. Wearing smart, connected eyeglasses equipped with a high-definition camera, 180-degree images are transmitted via streaming video to the VMI multimedia dashboard. There, several qualified experts watch the live video at the same time. They then collaborate together with onsite technicians to troubleshoot and recommend fixes.

“It’s a compelling value proposition,” says Ghosh. Now, companies can leverage their intellectual capital and human expertise to solve dynamic problems remotely in the field.”

Real impact

VMI technology is having a direct, tangible impact across every imaginable industry and equipment scenario:

  • Capital equipment: Advanced machining solutions provider Ellison Technologies helps manufacturers install and maintain complex, standalone machines and multi-process equipment. The company even integrates manufacturing systems with robotic automation. In the past, Ellison technicians had to physically travel to customer sites. Now, experts have the option of collaborating remotely on the VMI SEENiX platform. By analyzing the detailed, real-time visual footage and ambient operating sounds, teams can quickly get to the root cause of a mechanical failure – and instantly show an onsite operator how to fix the problem.
  • Utilities: Utility companies in the United States and Europe purchase many of the materials that go into constructing the power grid. Utilities typically conduct a thorough pre-shipment inspection (PSI) before they pay for a shipment. Yet the cost of sending a technical inspector to China, for example, can be prohibitive. The VMI SEENiX platform allows remote experts to do inspections literally through the eyes of an onsite inspector. Wearing specialized IoT smart glasses, onsite inspectors can conduct random inspections while remote experts watch the entire process on a video monitor. As a result, goods can be vetted before they’re purchased and leave port.
  • Aerospace and defense: Aircraft maintenance is a mission-critical task for commercial and private operators alike. Millions of lives depend on the timely and accurate repair of jet engine and aircraft systems every day. Rapid maintenance turnaround times and a shortage of highly qualified technical experts, however, make this difficult. The VMI SEENiX platform solves this challenge by pairing on-the-ground technicians with remote technical experts. Using advanced, specialized IoT smart glasses, onsite inspection technicians can collaborate live with in-house or even external experts in real time through the SEENIX platform. Teams can then make rapid-response troubleshooting, analysis, repairs, and decisions on the spot.

Intelligence on tap

The strong, early successes of VMI SEENiX are also quickly capturing the attention of ERP software makers. They’re eager to put this new functionality into the hands of customers by integrating it into existing tools and applications. By embedding predictive maintenance and asset intelligence into a state-of-the-art cloud solution, businesses can quickly begin to enjoy the benefits of an asset intelligence network.

“The VMI platform gives ERP users the opportunity to transform their businesses into intelligent enterprises,” says Suneet Agera, product expert, SAP Startup Accelerator for Digital Supply Chain. “It’s giving a lot of ERP customers the momentum they need to evolve from their current transaction-based systems to next-generation cloud systems.”

VMI is part of the SAP Startup Accelerator for Digital Supply Chain.

Rosina Geiger

About Rosina Geiger

Rosina Geiger is the Director of Startup Engagement at SAP. She has worked at the Hasso Plattner Institute before joining SAP in 2016 to establish the SAP Startup Accelerator for Digital Supply Chain in Berlin and Palo Alto.