Case IH and Microsoft team up for the future of remote maintenance

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Case IH announced its collaboration with Microsoft for an advanced project leveraging mixed reality in an Industry 4.0 perspective at Agritechnica. The project aims bring its best maintenance experts instantly in any of its customer or dealer workshops all over the EMEA region.

The partnership’s goal is offering the best customer service, by reducing downtime and improving efficiency. Case IH is testing Microsoft HoloLens in Austria to streamline maintenance operations.

Using Microsoft holographic interactions, it’s possible to empower customers enabling hands-free operations and smarter conversations, to deliver accurate and qualified diagnostics while improving productivity.

It goes beyond the concept of Augmented Reality and introduces Mixed Reality, displaying holograms in the user’s field of vision with a mapping of the environment that allows the user to place holograms in the real world and move them as desired or needed while respecting the physics of the environment around the headset.

Case IH say the HoloLens has a clear advantage in two major fields: remote assistance and training.

In the first case, as part of the pilot, maintenance teams can access Case IH experts hands-free whilst working on the machine, for efficient and fast intervention, with supporting information sent within seconds. Thus, the technician can repair a machine while communicating with an expert located in a workshop, for example, who can consult all of the technical datasheets and applicable methods and send them to the technician, who can view them on his “glasses”. The technician can also talk directly with the expert in real-time via Skype.

The benefits are meaningful for all of the people involved (the manufacturer, dealers, etc.): increased efficiency and time-saving. The main goal of the device is to minimize the machine’s downtime and making the service more efficient, by improving productivity and business continuity.

In the second case, training becomes just easier: a person wearing the headset can be remotely connected to multiple people and give a live class without needing to travel. A clear advantage in terms of time savings, speed and efficiency, as well.

“With the HoloLens project, Case IH and Microsoft are working closely to develop the technologies of the future and to set up a new model for remote maintenance. The testing phase, which is expected to last one year, is already delivering remarkable outcomes in terms of efficiency and effectiveness. We expect to go on in our Digital Transformation path, by developing further application scenarios of this and other new technologies”, claims Peter Friis, Commercial Marketing Director EMEA Case IH.
The HoloLens headset contains a full computer equipped with an adapted Windows 10 version. Three processors are used: the first is the main CPU (Central Processing Unit), the second is a GPU (Graphics Processing Unit), and the third, called an HPU (Holographic Processing Unit), manages the spatial positioning of holograms, recognising the world around the HoloLens headset. Infrared cameras support the device in further understanding the environment and in low-light conditions while spatial sound speakers deliver a 360° sound experience contextual to the real-world positioning of the holograms. Voice command are also available through Microsoft’s digital assistant, Cortana. It weighs around 579 grams and offers a field of vision of around 30° by 17.5°.

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