Image: Neoenergia

Brazilian energy company Neoenergia is piloting the use of augmented reality for inspection and maintenance of distribution assets.

Neoenergia is piloting four augmented reality headsets – one in each of its distribution concessionaries, Coelba in Bahia state, Celpe in Pernambuco, Cosern in Rio Grande do Norte and Elektro in São Paulo and Mato Grosso do Sul.

The devices are equipped with a 16MP camera and 0.33-inch liquid crystal display to simulate a 7-inch display to the eye – larger than most smartphones. They use Android 8 as the operating system with a hands-free interface, enabling operation by voice command to facilitate working.

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For example, applications can be downloaded for meetings and training sessions and functions such as taking photographs or zooming in and out of documents can be undertaken by voice.

The implementation of augmented reality at distribution level follows an earlier pilot launched in April in which the technology was tested for use in substations on the transmission system.

“The tool goes far beyond what was initially forecast, which was to provide faster and more assertive support from our specialists to our field teams,” says Carlos Eduardo Begosso, Neoenergia’s superintendent of transmission operations and maintenance.

“By using the tool, we are able to undertake maintenance tours, supervise the execution of services, monitor equipment manoeuvres, perform safety inspections and provide training and we are also studying other applications.”

One of the company’s main goals was to improve the connection of teams in the field with specialists based in the head offices of the distributors to provide more agility to processes and reduce costs.

With the use of augmented reality devices, the specialists are able to guide technicians in the field, regardless of where they are and limit any unnecessary travel.

The two features that are found to be most used are remote mentoring and the view of documents in PDF format.

The augmented reality devices are equipped with three sensors, including a gyroscope, so that the image follows the movements of the user’s head. The battery lasts up to ten hours and can be changed without disconnecting the device.