Microsoft partner Velrada has supported resource multinational BHP with the deployment of mixed reality and remote working technologies for the use of a data collection tool, which saw its implementation in machinery cut down from months to weeks.
The deployment saw Microsoft’s HoloLens2 mixed reality glasses and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Remote Assist used to supply BHP’s employees with its Dash Maintainer Tools, a system that can collect data from machinery remotely via Azure-connected internet of things (IoT) sensors that is also available on smartphones and tablets.
The end solution allows for employees in BHP’s iron ore team to have access to instructional information and other work-related data on-site displayed via holograms.
The technology combo was used by BHP in Western Australia's Pilbara to implement a prototype of the Dash tool on a 300-tonne Komatsu haul truck, with the whole process – from testing to implementation – in four weeks. This is normally process that BHP’s digital products manager Alex Bertram said would have normally taken “a few months at least”.
During the implementation, experts were based in Perth while a mechanical fitter and an auto-electrician installed the IoT system on-site.
In addition to the quick turn-around, the end solution has the potential to cut travel time and costs, improve maintenance speed and new equipment deployment, according to Bertram.
The solution came following the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, with BHP introducing measures and controls to reduce the risk of transmission.
This saw a reduction in numbers of employees at mine sites for those necessary for safe operations, which slowed down Bertram’s work on Dash.
As a result, the first HoloLens2 device was sent to Bertram’s home to test. The first unofficial test for the technology combo was performed by his mother-in-law, who followed instructions through Remote Assist to dissect a LEGO model.
After this, a test was then performed on real machinery at BHP’s Innovation Centre Lab, based at its Perth repair centre.
Following the initial use of HoloLens2, there are more plans for its usage in Western Australia, as well as in BHP’s other Australian locations, as well as in the US and Chile.