How COVID-19 accelerated digital transformation for a centuries-old industry
At the onset of the pandemic, the primary challenge facing surveyors was how to transition the critical, in-person work to remote with shipmanagers who were not prepared. Operations could not stop as hundreds of ships needed to be surveyed daily to assess damages, safety and ensure environmental protection. To add an additional layer of difficulty, the restrictions and regulations varied significantly across countries as they all responded differently to the rise in COVID-19 cases.
To ensure they could remain operational, Bureau Veritas turned to digital classification supported through innovative services including SightCall, an AR-enabled visual assistance platform. “Using SightCall, we call the master of the ship or the superintendent of the company to initiate a session without sending a surveyor onboard,” says Joly of the platform that they chose for this transformation. Once the call is initiated, the client uses real time video communication to show the surveyor the item that needs to be inspected. They can verify documentation onboard, look at the hull or check a leak through their mobile device. The platform works in an offline mode so that the client can take photos and videos below deck then share that media in a live stream with a surveyor when back above deck. The surveyor can make annotations, take high resolution images and still perform the inspection using the media the client provides.
As the pandemic continues on and some industries are starting on the path to recovery, Bureau Veritas says that remote surveys will continue to be a part of their busines as AR-enabled visual assistance has proven to have several benefits. According to Joly, “It’s better for the planet, less costly for the client and safer for the surveyor. We can generate evidence faster. We have better occupancy of the surveyor and they can perform more surveys, because they are spending less time traveling.” Reducing its carbon footprint has long been a goal of Bureau Veritas and many others in maritime. Remote operations make this goal even closer. Many in supply chain feel the pressures of a need for a more sustainable future and found that digital transformation helps answer that call.
When asked about continuing to push the industry beyond its centuries-old practices, Joly believes there’s opportunity for continued innovation. “Through remote operation and SightCall we can generate more data, like pictures and videos, to build new models in AI and enable additional value and services. We are excited about the possibilities of new services and new deliverables in the future with real-time communication tools. We will still need surveyors on ships but we now have an additional and crucial capability to take us into the future.”
Source: By Katie Smart, Senior Director at SightCall