Adaptation to technology can mean succeeding in a short-term crisis and a long-term business plan.
We can no longer operate our business in the way that we used to do it.
It is necessary to face and accept that reality. COVID-19 contingency actions have challenged all the paradigms about what we once considered as normal. For example, if a cryogenic plant or other customer plant required technical support for a maintenance task, we would typically send a trained technician into the field to provide that support. Restrictions on travel and concerns for employee health made it necessary to find another solution.
However, our mission, “Making our world more productive,” guides our efforts to continue delivering high-value products and services for our customers. Our challenge was to implement a high-quality technology solution that could ensure near-seamless continuity in our operations while also minimizing risk to our workers.
Under this context, how can we ensure and guarantee our operations are reliable and simultaneously improve our productivity? Fortunately, we weren’t entirely starting from scratch – the Linde Digital team had already evaluated technologies that could assist with remote operations. They determined the best solution to meet our needs was an augmented reality service platform that could run through a typical mobile device, laptop, or even smart glasses. The tool virtually connects experts and field technicians through an Augmented Reality application. This application allows our employees to collaborate and solve problems with anyone, anywhere, with a tool that can share audio and video and allow image markup to circle or call out areas that need attention.
No Time for Failure
Discovering a solution was one thing, but it still needed to move into full deployment. Time was of the essence. Linde provides time-critical industrial, high-purity and specialty gases that are essential to many manufacturing and industrial operations, among others, and downtime for us could easily create a ripple effect of downtime for customers. We began testing the tool in all our operational departments and found that we could produce consistent, successful results. Within three weeks, we were expanding the tool’s use to all other countries and teams in our regional business units. Even beyond its original intent for remote support operations, we are extending the tool’s use to other areas that we hadn’t considered originally.
The extent to which we are
ready to accept this new reality will dictate the future of our business and of our world.
Advanced Control Systems Manager Isidro Morales said after the first test that the tool was helpful, user friendly, and intuitive, and made it easy to provide support during routine inspections. “This is the type of feedback that we receive from users,” said Jesus Flores-Cerrillo, Associate Director of Linde Digital. “We have seen an increase in the demand and in the use case applications of this technology around the word in Linde Operations. The journey has just started, and the opportunities are abundant.”
What Technology is Teaching Us
Using this technology, we can ensure our plants maintain continuous operation, and maintain staff safety in areas such as reliability, customer engineering services and advanced control systems, and in multiple plant operations.
Several learnings come with the implementation of the technology, including:
- The need to adapt our processes with new technologies. While these new tools are critical to keeping our business up and running, we also must adjust our mindset to the way we approach our work. We are developing processes that complement the technologies to improve our productivity, in some cases to levels even better than before the pandemic. In these circumstances, we must adapt to the technology in order to reap its full benefits.
- New solutions make a huge difference to quickly solve challenges. We were fortunate to have a digital team in place to evaluate our needs and act quickly. Acting with agility allows us to continue serving our customers.
- It’s important to challenge paradigms, as our “new normal” is likely here to stay. Part of resilience is accepting that we must adapt to changes as they come.
This remote solution will be not temporary – it is enabling a new way of work. The silver lining is that as a company we are discovering new things every day about our ability to rise to challenges. As we’ve navigated the pandemic, we’ve learned more about ourselves and developed confidence in our capabilities. This will have payoffs long into the future and years after the crisis is behind us.
The extent to which we are ready and willing to accept and adapt to this new reality will dictate the future of our business and of our world. M