Video technology allows global problem-solving with the click of a button
December 2012 - Imagine you’re the plant manager and you’ve just purchased a new line of equipment. The equipment has been delivered and the supplier needs to install it. There’s one major issue—your equipment supplier is in Europe and you’re in New York. This situation may be rare for some, but if a company has workers who live in different parts of the United States or different countries, it needs a reliable way to communicate when issues arise. Librestream, Winnipeg, Manitoba, has designed an operations-driven video collaboration system called Onsight to address these challenges.
“We focus on interactive collaboration for operations teams. We are not designed for just face-to-face meetings within an organization,” says Marieke Wijtkamp, vice president, marketing & client services at Librestream. “We’re all about bringing video collaboration to the scene of the problem.” Whether an issue arises in a remote location or right on the plant floor, Onsight allows employees to solve problems collaboratively and manage projects through the use of the Onsight rugged camera, the company’s PC and off-site mobile devices.
Moving to mobile
“The Onsight product was launched in 2006-2007, so we have thousands of our products installed around the world,” says Wijtkamp. “Our earliest customers were largely in aerospace and consumer packaged goods.” For companies with headquarters in the United States but suppliers and offices in other countries, this solution allows everyone to work together regardless of location. “Our customers often want to test the Onsight solutions in the most difficult spots that they have,” says Wijtkamp. “That could involve a supplier in Asia using an Onsight device and connecting with the company's U.S.-based support center personnel using Onsight on a PC.”
When the product first launched, it included Onsight software for the PC and the mobile, rugged Onsight camera. Librestream recently added iOS devices to it’s capability roster. “It was really just this summer that we expanded the solution to also include iOS devices. When you use an iPad, iPhone, the Onsight rugged camera or a PC, you can have a consistent experience,” says Wijtkamp. Between its clients’ shift to Apple products and the growing Apple market, Librestream recognized the importance and competitiveness of being Apple compatible. With the Onsight camera and off-site mobile devices, colleagues now “can share video, audio, record sessions and also playback previous recordings, share images and also do telestration.” Much like John Madden did when drawing a football play on the TV screen, the telestrating tool allows workers to draw on the screen, pinpointing equipment malfunctions and potential issues.
Security also is a necessity when transmitting sensitive information online. “Because our customers are enterprises, they care a lot about security. So the content of their streaming, whether that’s with a supplier or a colleague or a customer, has to be extremely secure,” says Wijtkamp. “It is their intellectual property, so everything we transmit must be secure end-to-end.” The Onsight software is equipped with AES-128 and FIPS 140-2 military grade wireless security. “We have a partnership with a company called Fortress Technologies to provide FIPS 140-2 wireless security,” says Wijtkamp. “We work with defense contractors and organizations that require support for this military grade wireless standard.” For those in the defense and health care industries, this military grade security is an asset.
Additionally, Onsight has been optimized for customers working in remote locations, like oil rigs, who may only have 128,000 of network bandwidth but need to connect with colleagues and share video. The Onsight system is equipped to perform anywhere, even in locations with the lowest network bandwidth. “It needs a connection of some kind, but it could be cellular, satellite or wireless.”
Librestream also combats the issue of different firewalls. “So if you are on a customer site and you need to call into your head office to get help, you probably are not going to be able to make that call if you are using something like Skype or Face Time,” says Wijtkamp. “We have solutions in the cloud where we will overcome barriers, like that firewall, so you can connect your call every time.”
Rough and rugged
Librestream has created two camera models, the Onsight 2500R and the Onsight 2500EX. The Onsight 2500EX can be used in Class 1 Division 2 hazardous workstations. But for those who do not need this capability, the main asset is the camera’s durability.
“For many of our customers, they really care about the ruggedness of the camera device,” says Wijtkamp. “They may be working outdoors or within a facility with steel or concrete floors. The Onsight device has to be able to withstand multiple drops to these hard surfaces. The Onsight cameras have an IP64 enclosure rating, chemical-resistant exterior and are designed to withstand a 4-foot drop to concrete or steel.” MM