Growing Popularity of Remote Inspections
In this article, we will take a closer look at why you should choose 360° Video Conferencing for remote inspections, the various types of inspections that require a 360° view, and how to conduct a remote inspection with 360° Video Conferencing.
Remote inspections have become a game changer for a number of different industries – Construction, Manufacturing, Logistics & Supply Chain – fundamentally shifting the paradigm of in-person site visits. The driving force behind this change isn’t just a matter of convenience, but a combination of compelling economic and logistical reasons.
The primary advantage of remote inspections is their substantial cost and time savings. Without the need to fund travel, accommodation, and other ancillary expenses for in-person travel, companies can realize significant savings in operational costs.
This boost in efficiency also translates to increased flexibility, allowing inspections to be scheduled without the logistical constraints of coordinating travel arrangements. Furthermore, advancements in remote inspection technology have enabled more thorough and accurate evaluations than ever before.
What is 360° Video Conferencing?
Before we go over how to conduct a remote inspection, let’s quickly review what is 360° video conferencing?
360° video conferencing is a type of video communication that uses a 360-degree camera on one end to capture the entire room or space, while remote participants join via their computers or smartphone devices.
At time of writing, there are a small handful of 360° video conferencing platforms available with various capabilities. For example, Avatour allows both live and recorded 360° video streams during the meeting, with a suite of built-in collaboration tools and up to 20 remote participants.
Read “What is a 360° Video Conference” to learn more.
Why 360° Video Conferencing for Remote Inspections?
In the evolving landscape of remote collaboration technology, the tools you deploy play a crucial role in ensuring efficiency and effectiveness of your efforts. Let’s delve into the specific reasons why 360° video conferencing stands out as a game-changer for remote inspections:
- Larger Field of View (FOV)
As the name suggests, 360° video conferencing provides a complete 360-degree view of the room or space. This allows the camera operator to share the full context of their location and delivers a much more clear picture of what’s happening around them.
In comparison, standard video conferencing tools are built for faces, not spaces. Therefore, they provide limited visibility, just large enough to have face-to-face conversations.
- Control Your Point-of-View (POV)
360° video conferencing uniquely provides remote participants with the ability to control their own view, simply by clicking and dragging around. Traditionally, the camera operator would have to direct the remote participant’s view manually, limiting their visibility and creating opportunities for error.
- Record and Capture in 360°
After taking photos and videos on your smartphone of the inspection site, often the ones you need to refer to later are the ones you didn’t capture. However, if you were to record the inspection, or take 360° snapshots, you can feel assured that you’ll have exactly what you need.
- Suite of Collaboration Tools
There’s nothing more frustrating than telling someone to pan one way or the other during a video call. 360° video conferencing is a tool for communicating about spaces, and therefore, has a complete set of features that allow you to interact and engage more efficiently than other tools.
For example, Avatour has a “Spotlight” feature that allows remote participants to ‘point’ at a specific area that can be viewed by other remote participants and the operator on site.
Types of Inspections
Different tools are built for different purposes. Zoom is a great substitute for a conference room meeting, but not ideal for other forms of collaboration. Similarly, 360° video is most effective for certain sorts of situations. It’s important to remember that 360° videoconferencing is particularly useful when observing two things: workflows and large spaces.
Workflows → This refers to the activity taking place on site or the dynamism of the space. When the focus of the observation is on how people interact and move around, 360° video is an excellent option.
Large Spaces → Avatour, and 360° video conferencing in general, is especially useful when evaluating space utilization, physical layouts, large installations, and so on. If it’s necessary to also view detail, such as a document or specific piece of machinery, Avatour allows the use of a secondary camera for close-ups.
Here are a few examples of remote inspections that can benefit from 360° video:
- Health and Safety Inspections:
Evaluating potential hazards in a workplace demands a comprehensive perspective. With 360° visibility, inspectors can gain a holistic view of the environment, ensuring no corner is overlooked. This panoramic perspective makes it easier to identify potential issues from machinery placements to emergency exit accessibilities, ensuring a safer environment for all.
- Quality and Operational Excellence Audits:
360° video conferencing allows inspectors to remotely observe the entire workflow in its context, from raw material input to product output, to assess efficiency and effectiveness of the operation more accurately. This broader perspective helps in identifying bottlenecks, inefficiencies, or areas for potential optimization that might be missed with a limited viewpoint.
- Regulatory Compliance Audits:
Meeting external regulatory requirements often requires detailed checks across multiple facets of an operation. The 360° view ensures that inspectors can observe, record, and review all operational aspects without missing any details. Whether it’s assessing environmental safeguards or verifying proper storage practices, panoramic views make the process more thorough and reliable.
- Supplier Audits:
When evaluating suppliers, understanding the full scope of their operations is crucial. Companies can get a better, more complete view of storage areas, production lines, and logistics operations. Such comprehensive oversight ensures that suppliers adhere to quality, ethical, and operational standards set by their partners.
- Factory Acceptance Tests (FAT):
Validating that equipment operates according to design specifications requires observation from multiple angles. 360° visibility ensures that every part of the equipment or system is visible and accessible, just as it would be if done in person. The ability to see the equipment’s interaction with its surrounding environment, guarantees a more accurate remote assessment.
How to Conduct a Remote Inspection
The key to a successful remote inspection is to prepare thoroughly. While remote inspections are far more convenient than an in-person visit, they require extra preparation to ensure things run smoothly.
Step 1: Prepare SOPs and other documentation.
Prepare and organize any documents that will be required during the inspection, including the Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs).
Any checklists, blueprints, and other related documents can be uploaded to Avatour directly so they’re ready to go for your inspection.
Step 2. Validate Connectivity
Planning your connectivity strategy in advance is one of the most important steps you can take to ensure a successful inspection. If WiFi is available, start by evaluating that option. If there’s no WiFi on site, you can use cellular connection via your smartphone device or portable hotspot.
The Avatour app (iOS, Android) includes a free connectivity test tool which provides a continuous bandwidth test as you move through targeted areas. This tool is helpful whether or not you plan to use Avatour for the inspection.
Step 3. Assign Inspection Roles
Determine who will operate the camera on site, manage the inspection itself, address technical issues, and so on. This will help avoid confusion and wasted time throughout the inspection.
Step 4. Check the Equipment.
In advance of the inspection, double check that all of the necessary equipment is on site, charged up, and ready to go. We highly recommend having extra batteries for inspections that will run longer than an hour.
Step 5. Schedule the Inspection and Send Invitations
Schedule the inspection and send out invitations to each stakeholder directly in the Avatour platform. Remote participants will receive the invitation via email which will include all the necessary information for them to join the meeting on the day of the inspection. If you do not have access to the participants’ email, you may also share the unique meeting code directly.
Step 6. Setup the Camera and Start the Inspection
Set up your 360° camera and launch the Avatour app. Once you’ve logged in, you will be presented with the option to start streaming to your specific meeting.
Bonus Tip: It’s helpful to break up longer inspections into several sessions to avoid running out of battery and reduce fatigue. We recommend anything over an hour to two hours should be broken down into multiple sessions.
Step 7. Record, Capture, and Annotate
Just as you would record a Zoom or Teams call, recording the inspection ensures you have something to refer back to at a later time.
If using the Avatour platform for the inspection, you have the option to record the meeting or to capture snapshots in both 2D and 360°. When recording the inspection, the 360° video stream will be recorded and stored automatically in the cloud.
When capturing snapshots, you have the option to capture in both 2D and 360°, as well as an option to annotate and make comments directly on the image. These snapshots will also be stored automatically.
Step 8. Share the Recordings and Collect Feedback
Once the inspection is recorded, it’s important to share the recording with the proper stakeholders. Then, set a date to collect and review feedback.
How you share the recording is up to the tool you use. On the Avatour platform, the “Workplaces” feature makes asynchronous collaboration simple. Read “Introducing Workspaces & the New Avatour Mobile App” to learn more.
Avatour for Remote Inspections
360° video conferencing is reshaping the way businesses think about remote inspections. With tools like Avatour, the world becomes a little smaller, with distant sites and facilities only a click away.