Porterbrook owns almost a third of the national passenger rail fleet and has been at the heart of Britain’s railway for over 25 years. Three quarters of Porterbrook’s 140 staff are highly specialised engineers or project managers.
COVID-19 restrictions have meant that Porterbrook has had to fundamentally change the way in which asset audits and inspections take place.
Unit inspections and audits play a vital part in Porterbrook’s core maintenance programmes and are crucial to safety. To continue to deliver extensive maintenance, modification and refurbishment services, accredited by RISAS (Railway Industry Safety Approval Scheme), required Porterbrook to develop a remote asset inspection process that is both innovative and industry leading.
This approach employed new technology to provide ‘virtual’ hands and eyes on the ground to minimise person-to-person proximity in-line with government guidelines. Porterbrook’s partner Qubic part of the Wavenet Group, supplied RealWear HMT-1 – a hands-free remote collaboration tool.
The HMT-1 enables inspectors in the field to get real time assistance from specialist engineers back at base via two-way video call. Remote engineers can see and hear from those undertaking an asset inspection as if they were physically present. The high-resolution microdisplay ﬁts just below the inspectors’ line of sight and views like a 7” tablet. They can control the video and camera using just voice commands freeing both hands for the inspection procedure.
The HMT-1 comes as standard with My Camera, a hands-free application for taking photographs and videos. The inspectors can call-up audio or video files from the HMT-1, that are played using a media player. They can view documents, photos and video files locally stored or stored on an installed MicroSD card.
When conducting inspections, the use of both hands can be essential for safety and effectiveness. The system also integrates with Microsoft Teams enabling the wearer to collaborate with more than one person.
“Microsoft Teams on RealWear has the potential to reduce downtime, as well as dependence on handheld devices in dangerous work environments.” Emma Williams - Corporate Vice President, Modern Workplace Transformations Microsoft
Porterbrook has been able to take advantage of the following benefits the system has to offer:
Time Savings: The solution has freed up considerable time, with engineers being able to directly communicate with head office and provide a real time view of all engineering and audit work undertaken.
Remote Working: With the pandemic taking hold, social distancing and travel restrictions have presented a significant challenge to the work Porterbook undertake. Realwear has provided them with the ability to work seamlessly as a team with engineers in the field and office.
Futureproofing: With cutting edge technologies, Porterbrook have full peace of mind that their business can continue to provide vital services no matter the challenges that lay ahead.
Professional Support: Dedicated Wavenet support are on hand to offer professional help whenever required.
“A highlight was being able to broadcast live to a board meeting from a London depot. We provided the board members with a real time update of the progress being made on a project. The live streaming was much appreciated by board attendees who, because of the Covid restrictions, were unable to visit the depot in person.” Kamil Hashmi - Project Engineer, Porterbrook