Case Studies | Remote Technical Expertise
Connecting Remote Technical Expertise to Support Vessel Crew
Harvest Technology Group facilitated remote expert communication for a global offshore services customer who provides subsea engineering and specialised tooling for the energy sector. Since 2020, Harvest has been collaborating with this customer providing technology solutions to enable remote expertise by utilising ultra-low bandwidth video and audio streaming onboard vessels.
The customer specialises in the manufacture of subsea tooling and engineering solutions for its clients in the energy sector. When it comes to installing or inspecting equipment on a vessel for clients, the customer’s technicians are often required to be present in remote locations.
Vessel crew members located in Southeast Asia were unfamiliar with the complex tools provided by the customer and required communication with technicians based at the customer’s headquarters in Australia to leverage their expertise. However, with the lockdowns and travel restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the customer was prevented from sending its technical experts to the vessel for equipment inspection and commissioning.
Additionally, the vessel had limited satellite bandwidth, posing another challenge. In order to avoid disrupting the project schedule by diverting the vessel into port, the customer sought a technology solution that would enable real-time video and audio streaming using low bandwidth to allow crew to effectively communicate with technical experts in Australia and ensure continuity of operation of the vessel’s equipment.
Harvest provided a remote inspection solution that allowed the customer to give technical instructions from Australia to the crew onboard the vessel in Southeast Asia over restricted, poor quality bandwidth. The solution consisted of a wearable headset embedded with the Wearwolf™ encoding software application for the crew members to wear and two Nodestream™ mini decoders located in each of the technical experts’ home offices in Australia.
Onboard the vessel, a local crew member conducted the physical component of the inspection and testing wearing the Wearwolf™ headset. Instructions and technical assistance were provided by two of the customer’s technical experts located in Australia via their individual Nodestream™ mini decoders. The crew members and experts were able to communicate with each other in real-time, respond to visual cues, and assist with commissioning and operating equipment. This allowed for 24-hour support for day and night shift operations.
Wearwolf™ provided decision-making quality video over ultra-low bandwidth of less than 100 kbps. The team were able to adjust the bandwidth, frame rate and latency within the available bandwidth onboard the vessel to get the best quality output.
This solution enabled the customer to have two supervisors remotely commission and supervise equipment operation via the crew onboard.
As a result, the customer was able to successfully commission and operate its specialised tooling on the vessel, without the need for technical experts onboard, streaming audio and video over ultra-low bandwidth. Previously these experts were required to stay on the vessel for the duration of its charter, even if the vessel was required to complete other project tasks. Using technology, they were able to carry out the supervision of operations from their home offices in Australia. This meant the customer could maintain 24-hour operational continuity despite COVID-19 travel restrictions.
Another key benefit was the increase in operational efficiency by reducing the number of people needed on the vessel, which in turn reduced the cost of the operation for the customer as well as the cost of port visits to transfer personnel. The technicians were able to stay at home, out of harm’s way and remotely complete their scope of work. This also reduced the environmental impact of the customer’s operations by eliminating the need for extra travel.