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Virtual industrial services


Virtual industrial services

Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, many industrial plant operators are currently limiting access to their facilities. But many of these plants produce essential products for everyday use. In order to ensure that these industrial plants can operate with reduced on-site personnel, Bilfinger is offering two solutions for "virtual" industrial services: The secure access to systems for controlling and monitoring production from any computer with an Internet connection, and the connection of experts at other locations for on-site maintenance tasks using augmented reality (AR) glasses.

For example, Bilfinger Maintenance GmbH uses AR glasses when special knowledge is required for certain maintenance or repair tasks. Instead of sending an expert to a remote location, he can connect to a colleague already on site via software. Despite a distance of hundreds of kilometers, the expert can see the plant in real time through the colleague´s AR glasses and simultaneously discuss it with him by phone. If necessary, he can use a screen to display additional information on maintenance or repair in his colleague´s field of vision. This can include technical data or manufacturer information. The colleague on site has his hands free and can carry out the repair or maintenance.

"AR glasses enable us to save time, reduce travel costs and reduce health risks in the current situation," says Jörg Stieglitz, Rollout Manager Digital Solutions at Bilfinger Maintenance GmbH. "We provide the appropriate hardware and software depending on the individual needs of colleagues or customers.
The harsh environmental conditions in the process industry put particularly high demands on the AR glasses and the software used. Safe use must be ensured in accordance with applicable standards – in the hazardous areas of a plant, for example. And even with loud background noise, the employee on site still has to be able to operate the AR glasses by voice control.

Bilfinger GreyLogix GmbH also offers another solution for plant operation with reduced on-site personnel. Systems engineer Marvin Dunn sets up direct, encrypted access for industrial customers to their systems to control and monitor production plants. Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection, customers can log into the plant systems as though they were on site themselves. "Basically, it´s like a virtual extension of the cable connecting the computer to the plant IT systems," explains Marvin Dunn. "The computer can access the systems as if it were actually connected to them with a physical cable.

The Bilfinger GreyLogix team sets up access for customers and carries out the necessary security updates on an ongoing basis. "Our experience in industrial services is a real advantage here: We often have many years of knowledge about our customers´ plants, systems and requirements," says Marvin Dunn.

Jörg Stieglitz and Marvin Dunn agree: "The use of technologies such as AR glasses or remote access to plant control systems is the future - but at Bilfinger, the future has already arrived. The technologies are mature and projects that have already been executed successfully demonstrate their benefits. The significant increase in demand due to the current situation can thus become the first step for our customers on the path toward the virtual industrial plant."


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