Reducing Travel Time and Expenses with Mixed Reality
For many companies in the manufacturing and industrial landscape today, the Extended Reality environment isn’t just an opportunity to innovate.
Used correctly, XR solutions can align teams for better collaboration, empower new levels of creativity, and even save money for budget-conscious companies. All it takes is the right strategy.
Marabu, a manufacturing company known for producing a host of different ink options for everything from automotive interiors to bottles and glasses, turned to Microsoft for help discovering the benefits of extended reality.
Marabu provides customers with a wide range of products and services, from advice on the right inks and machines to on-site assistance if an industrial device stops working.
However, continuing to offer this selection of services in 2022, while keeping costs as low as possible, presented something of a challenge for the Marabu team. In order to become more resource-efficient, the brand chose to leverage HoloLens 2 with Dynamics 365 to cut time and expenses, while reducing CO2.
Finding a Solution for Sustainable Savings
As a globally-leading manufacturer of screen, pad, and digital printing inks, Marabu has always focused on keeping its business as cutting-edge and innovative as possible.
Over the years, the family-owned business has developed a significant amount of expertise not just in the ink production landscape, but in the use and maintenance of printing machines too.
This means aside from supplying customers around the globe with printing inks, Marabu has been able to bring value-added services into the mix, offering maintenance services for third-party devices.
When the company became CO2 neutral in 2021, it wanted to ensure it could maintain this status, while also continuing to offer the services customers loved. With this in mind, the Marabu team set out in search of new ways of becoming more sustainable.
For some time, the delivery of maintenance, repairs and product development services for the company had contributed to significant time and expense, as well as a lot of travel.
In the past, when customer machines broke down, the company would pick up the phone and arrange for someone to visit the location in person, via air or road. This resulted in a lot of time spent travelling, as well as a machine often sitting idle until experts could arrive.
Similar time-consuming processes were also evident in the product development space, where Marabu often manufactured inks, sent them to the printing company for test prints, and then waited to have the ink sent back for review.
Microsoft and the HoloLens 2 solution emerged as the answer to making various processes for the company more efficient.
Mobile Services and Training with Microsoft HoloLens
According to Stefan Würtemberger, the VP of Information Technology at Marabu, around 60% of the company’s processes were already running in the cloud on Azure, and most of the tech products it uses are from Microsoft.
The decision to use Microsoft as an XR innovator made a lot of sense too. What’s more, the fact that the HoloLens 2 is one of the best-known tools for mixed reality on the market didn’t hurt either.
The adoption of the HoloLens 2 as a central tool for Marabu business processes started with a proof of concept exploration of the technology, which quickly developed into the use of 12 HoloLens 2 devices alongside Dynamics 365 Field Service and Dynamics 365 Remote Assist. The technology is spread across multiple locations in Scandinavia, France, Brazil, the US, Germany, and China.
With the Dynamics 365 guides to assist them, the Marabu team held a number of internal training sessions with experts based in other countries, allowing for global 3D model collaboration.
From that point, the use of the HoloLens 2 technology quickly took off. As soon as customers receive and use a HoloLens device, technicians can now help them immediately through Remote Assist.
According to Marabu, the holographic computer environment is very easy to use, to ensure on-site issues can be resolved quickly and conveniently, with minimal travel time. Integrating the Dynamics 365 Field Service technology into the HoloLens 2 hardware also expanded Marabu’s customer service options, according to Würtemberger.
Now, technicians can track down details on all the assets a customer might have immediately, through an interface linked to CRM technology, including operating instructions for the printer, and details of the corresponding components and replacement parts. Users can also leverage videos and images created during training sessions to help them.
All of this information is already being used to deliver appropriate offers and HoloLens 2 appointments to customers.
All the while, technicians even get access to automatically-updated calendars, where they can see upcoming appointments with customers, and what kind of technology they’re going to need to complete the conversations. Even service reports can be prepared during the call, meaning they take less time to reach the customer.
A New Future for Marabu
According to Marabu, a lot has happened in the production development area since the introduction of the HoloLens 2. Now, instead of sending prints back and forth, Marabu can check them through the HoloLens environment.
Users can tell immediately whe4ther a color corresponds to the reference spectrum, rather than having to wait for a test print to come back.
Similarly, printing errors and air pockets can also be identified immediately through high-resolution images. Going forward, it should be possible to evaluate the images with AI too, allowing for greater levels of automation.
In the future, Marabu plans on making the HoloLens 2 available to customers as part of a package which includes guides, Remote Assist, Field Service, and a certain number of service hours from a technician.
This will provide customers with guaranteed resources and service times and opens a dialogue to improve the way the company can advise their clients. By the end of 2022, Marabu hopes to see as many customers as possible using this package.