Emerson has released Mobile Worker: Voice and Video, a communications technology designed to help process manufacturers save time and money on plant maintenance and trouble-shooting by bringing the problem to the experts rather than bringing the experts to the problem.
In the face of reduced plant work forces, more experienced personnel nearing retirement age, and increasing travel costs, Emerson partnered with AudiSoft to deliver a hands-free, high-definition voice and video solution that plant personnel can wear into remote field locations anywhere in the world.
From the problem area, the field engineer can securely visually and verbally communicate live via a Wi-Fi access point, cellular, or satellite wireless connection with remote experts who, from their laptop or PC, can see and diagnose the problem, then instruct the field engineer through the problem’s resolution.
"We have a lot of customers with processes and field devices in remote locations—from diamond mines near the Arctic Circle, to platforms hundreds of miles offshore. If we can help them resolve their problems without flying expert consultants to the location, we can save them critical time and potentially millions of dollars in downtime," said Emerson’s Bob Karschnia, vice president of wireless. "We continue to find new wireless applications to help our customers manage their processes in challenging industrial environments. This is another valuable application they can add to their toolbox."
The Mobile Worker kit includes a video camera and noise-cancelling microphone that attach to a hardhat, a small touch-screen interface that straps to the chest, and an additional video camera that can be hand-held to zoom into areas too small for the headset camera to access. From any area where a wireless signal can be reached, HD, VGA or QVGA video (depending on available signal strength and bandwidth) can reach either a PC loaded with the Frontline Expert software, or a dedicated server or host subscriber via a web browser. Secure, encrypted communication allows real-time conferencing over the plant network or the Internet to solve remote problems much faster and more cost-effectively than transporting an expert to the site.
The Mobile Worker kit is rated for ATEX Zone 2 use, with Class 1 Division 2 certification available in the near future.