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Augmented reality added to seals and bearings maintenance

Wärtsilä’s Seals & Bearings division is to upgrade the repair and maintenance options for its products with the launch of new augmented reality and ‘smart glasses’ technologies.

{mprestriction ids="1,2"}Augmented reality assistance can be accessed by field service engineers, members of a ship’s crew or shipyard personnel to provide immediate access to the combined knowledge of the Wärtsilä Seals & Bearings team when troubleshooting or performing service and repair of stern tube equipment.

The new systems could also prove beneficial in supporting tasks like inspections, alignment measurements, on-site machining, shaft straightening and newbuilding commissioning, the company says.

“Augmented reality can be used to solve complex problems that would otherwise require considerable time to resolve,” said Thomas Pauly, product manager, Seals & Bearings Future Technologies.

“Smart glasses – equipped with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, camera and microphone – enable real-time communication with a remotely located Wärtsilä expert who can see and hear exactly what happens on board, in dry dock or in a workshop, no matter how far the customer’s installation is.”

The user on site can send and receive visual images, listen to the specialist’s advice, and receive written instructions in front of their eyes on transparent displays. The Wärtsilä Expertise Centre can then guide the person on site through the actions required to solve the problem. 

“The expert, located far, far away from the vessel can demonstrate how to make the repairs using images, manuals and even video footage – all while the engineer on site can continue to work,” Mr Pauly added.

“It’s like having a Wärtsilä service engineer by your side 24/7, with the bonus that this ‘virtual’ service engineer has real-time access to the vast wealth of information and expertise that Wärtsilä has accumulated over the years.”

Currently, Wärtsilä says it is carrying out pilots with selected customers to establish smart procedures for using augmented reality in a broad range of seals and bearings tasks, and is also testing offline capabilities where videos and pictures can be saved on the glasses’ internal memory and sent to the Expertise Centre when a satellite connection or GSM signal is available.{/mprestriction}

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