The Covid-19 pandemic presents Ampegon with major challenges, while business and projects must continue. One of these challenges is the difficulties travelling internationally to witness testing, meaning new working methods are required.
This is the first time Ampegon has performed a Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) with a customer entirely remotely using cutting-edge communication tools. This technology allowed representatives from Fusion for Energy (F4E) to follow remotely and witness acceptance testing of the third of eight high voltage power supplies destined to power the ITER experiment in Cadarache, France. The tests were performed by Ampegon “Robo-Engineers” in the factory while directly interacting with the customers thousands of kilometers away over the internet, using wearable camera technology and real-time communication systems.
Initially, Ampegon engineers had to rapidly adjust to working with this new technology but soon warmed to the possibilities it offered. Carmen Hiltbrunner, managing the factory tests, explains how the high-tech equipment works: “The glasses have a camera and microphone, and a screen to see what the customers are seeing. The customers are able to control the level of zoom, the focusing and taking snapshots of anything within vision to highlight things to our engineers.”
System Engineer Simon Scheiben, performing the tests, was first to use the glasses: “The fact that one eye sees what the customer sees took a bit of getting used to, but it soon became clear that this is an extremely useful method to perform testing while customers are in another country!”
Applications Specialist, Michael Bader, added: “It’s really important for us to maintain a close relationship with our customers. Working with them to test system specifications and perform quality inspections before systems are shipped is particularly important.”
Such technology cannot fully replace personal meetings with the customer, which will also justify trips in the future, but this new approach is definitely a very interesting option to be used on a case-by-case basis where travel is simply not possible or feasible.
Due to the number of unprecedented challenges we face by this pandemic, Ampegon is exploring many new ways of working without compromising efficiency or quality and learning valuable lessons for the future.
Carmen Hiltbrunner summed up the experience: “We’ll be doing this again, for sure! It fits right into our commitment to high-frequency innovation!”