Spiral Technology’s head-worn augmented reality (AR) systems could help ship owners reduce costs while easing the burdens placed upon workers tasked with maintaining and repairing complex maritime equipment.
Maritime operations regularly require technicians, engineers and other personnel to undertake complex operations while working alone in confined, difficult and often dangerous environments. In such situations, it is often far from easy or even possible for the operator to consult a manual or boot up a laptop to see exactly what they need to do as and when events unfold. Such a demanding scenario, though, is precisely where Spiral Technology’s software for head-worn AR devices steps to the fore, giving such workers immediate and hands-free access to a wealth of technical information and remote support.
“Spiral provides a whole new approach to maritime maintenance and repairs. It will fundamentally change the way operators interact with information,” says CEO Konstantyn Shyshkin. “Augmented reality will provide access to technical data via head-mounted computers overlaying virtual screens on top of physical objects.”
“We expect that it will be applied first to advanced tasks with multiple decision-making options. For example, engine inspections and disassembly and the assessment of components subject to complex damage – jobs that require constant access to numerous manuals,” he continues, adding that AR-assisted maintenance and repairs “is now becoming of great value to ship owners” given the increasing technical complexity of vessels.
But AR’s potential to be of assistance to the sector is certainly not limited to these applications alone. “Even more value can be derived in the area of autonomous shipping. Autonomous vessels will require emergency team boarding in [the event] of technical equipment failure. AR-enabled virtual assistants will supercharge this special crew in performing time-critical jobs,” Shyshkin states.
Across the board, the key benefits offered by this technology are to be found “in the cost savings driven by the optimised maintenance and repair workflows”, he notes. “An engineer on board will have all necessary manuals and instructions available to him through the AR glasses while the on-shore expert team will be able to provide remote assistance on the most critical issues. The system will also allow online access to the spare parts register on board or shore warehouse, optimising the maintenance supply chain.”
Meanwhile, vessel operation represents another possible area in which AR could help a company reduce its costs. “The technology will reduce human factors and therefore reduce insurance costs to ship owners due to increased reliability,” Shyshkin reasons.
“Augmented reality is developing rapidly and maritime companies need to keep up,” he says. “Digitalisation is on the agenda of every major organisation and AR can become a catalyst of the other innovations enabling adjacent technologies, such as artificial intelligence (for image recognition used in quality assurance) and blockchain (for spare parts tracking).”
“Spiral’s unique advantage is in the area of operation confirmation and maintenance quality assurance,” he says. “While the competitors are focusing on AR training and remote assistance with wearable tablets, Spiral’s platform ensures on the spot data capture and [the tracking of] operation quality,” he says.
Currently “in early discovery stages with a number of specialist marine companies in Europe and Asia”, Spiral Technology is “also working on proof-of-concept projects with several global airlines and manufacturing companies”. As well as being chosen from more than 2,500 maritime startups around the world to take part in the Rotterdam programme of the 2020 PortXL accelerator, the company is also part of the third cohort of the Air Force Accelerator Powered by TechStars 2020 in Boston.
Spiral Technology was founded in 2018 by CTO Andrii Ieroshevych, a software architect from the Ukrainian maritime capital of Odessa. Commanding 15-years’ experience of designing user interfaces for enterprise software, he was moved to set up the company after trying AR glasses for the first time and seeing “a tremendous opportunity to help technicians across industries deal with complicated industrial information”.
More information about the company, which develops its software in Ukraine while maintaining engineering experts in the UAE and Singapore, can be found at the Spiral Technology website