“The deals can be closed in distance. It is much more difficult, however, if we are not able to send our own man to the customer’s site with the provided equipment.”

This sentence was picked out of an interview with the CEO of a Finnish automation firm. The CEO describes the challenges they are facing due to the COVID-19 restrictions in their foreign trade relations. Some of these problems are easy to tackle with the help of Visuon VR and 360 visualizations.

Familiarization is critical for revenue value

The Chamber of Commerce asked Finnish companies about market disturbances caused by COVID-19 that hamper their exports, as well as trade barriers and restrictions. 86% of respondents were most affected by problems concerning workers’ mobility which were due to prevailing travel restrictions. Why would this pose a problem if deals can also be concluded from a distance?

The introduction of a new automation solution at its actual operating environment is a very critical phase. If customer familiarization is not carried out properly, the value of the new automation product will not reach its full capacity for the customer. Obviously, this causes loss of revenue for the producer too. In modern automation business, the supplier’s compensation is not typically tied solely to the delivery of a physical automation product. Instead, the compensation is usually, at least at some level, bound to the parameters achieved by the automatized process carried out by the new automation product.

I have participated in the research of introducing automation solutions at pulp mills. The findings of our studies show that users are familiarized to a new automation with greater success in authentic mill environments rather than in formal training settings. However, with the current COVID-19 restrictions in place, it is difficult to have the provider’s own personnel travel abroad and visit a client’s mill. On the other hand, merely having someone talking and giving instructions in a virtual online environment is not sufficient for learning.

Visuon in the introduction of new technology

Even in a world that isn’t bound by travel restrictions, Visuon solutions deliver cost savings and better customer familiarization. With immersive VR and 360 visualizations, installation projects and user training can be accelerated significantly.

For example, visualizations can be used to illustrate how a new automation product appears on control room screens. Visuon also makes it easy to add elements of gamification to familiarization material. For example, as an operator, how do you react if a specific parameter starts to rise above the recommended values and what will happen if you don’t react?

When producing familiarization material for customers at least the following learning essentials are good to be taken into account:

  1. What does the new technology provide to the client’s process? How is that different from the client’s old technology? (declarative information)
  2. How is the device used? How are problem situations dealt with? (procedural information)
  3. Why does the device work in the way it does (operation model)? (explanatory information)
  4. What opportunities will the new technology open up in terms of the user’s own work and the employer’s company? (expansive information)

Kirsi Elina Kallio
Learning and Development Specialist