Onboard engineers can carry out VSAT installation and repairs with shore-based assistance using augmented reality and remote guidance
Augmented reality (AR) technology can help seafarers and engineers install and repair VSAT hardware on ships. AR applications can be accessed using mobile devices to engage in remote monitoring, diagnostics and onboard engineer guidance.
It enables shore-based experts to assist onboard personnel deploying antennas and VSAT hardware, such as below-deck equipment.
AR-based remote support should speed-up installations and assist if repairs are needed, says IEC Telecom Norway managing director Alf Stian Mauritz. He explains to Maritime Digitalisation & Communications that AR remote guidance can also assist VSAT live testing.
“We provide a solution for AR remote guidance as part of our standard supply, so that we can remotely support our customers and engineers,” Mr Mauritz says. IEC Telecom works with XM Reality to provide AR remote support on ships. “AR is a supporting hand to those on board. We supply installers and our resellers with AR guidance for installations, live testing and repairs.”
XM Reality’s remote guidance is a scalable subscription service hosted on Amazon Web Services. It can be accessed using a mobile device for user-to-user or user-to-service centre communications.
In problem-solving, remote guidance can help identify an issue. Support engineers can help those on board to diagnose problems or validate them from a shore base if images are sent from the ship. The person appointed to assist the ship-based engineer can then provide guidance using voice, hands, screen pointers, documents or whatever it takes to solve the issue.
“We can watch and identify what needs to be done using AR remote guidance”
Once a repair or installation is completed, AR remote guidance can inspect the equipment. “We can watch and identify what needs to be done using AR remote guidance,” says Mr Mauritz. “If we cannot repair it, then we can prepare spares for when the ship reaches a harbour.”
Onshore engineers can record equipment installation and repairs using the mobile AR application. This video can be downloaded by engineers on to a ship's server. “It can be used for assisting future installations or repairs and for training through playback,” says Mr Mauritz. “It can be stored and watched to demonstrate how to do a repair... next time.”
AR remote guidance can be used to assist engineers repairing other ship equipment and machinery. “It is not yet widely used, but more use is coming and AR is implemented as part of our support,” Mr Mauritz adds.
Remotely monitoring VSAT systems is important for identifying and diagnosing problems, as for other onboard systems.
“We can analyse everything we need through the connection, for predicting equipment failure and to be ready with spare equipment when required,” Mr Mauritz says.
“If it is a software issue, we can use remote diagnostics”
“If it is a software issue, we can use remote diagnostics.” If it is a hardware problem, AR remote guidance is used to help seafarers to fix the problem themselves instead of using field engineers.
Mr Maurits thinks crew could also use it. “AR can be used to support onboard machinery repairs and for medical purposes,” he says.
IEC Telecom supplies VSAT in all bands and most services, including Ka-band, Ku-band and for L-band services on all types of vessels.
Snapshot CV: Alf Stian Mauritz
Alf Stian Mauritz formed Tradee Telecom in 2005 which was acquired by IEC Telecom Group in 2012. He is managing director of IEC Telecom Norway, which supplies vessels in northern European countries. He holds a degree in international business from the Norwegian Business School, Nanyang University in Singapore and USM in Malaysia.