BHP enhances remote workforce capabilities with Microsoft

BHP has adopted Microsoft's HoloLens head-mounted computer to enhance its operations during travel restrictions. Image: Microsoft

BHP has adopted Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 technology to give remote employees the ability to instruct on-site workers that are operating during COVID-19 restrictions at the South Flank iron ore operation in Western Australia.

HoloLens 2 enables mixed reality capabilities through a head-mounted computer and see-through display, which enable BHP remote employees to coach on-site workers.

By using Microsoft Dynamics 365 Remote Assist, BHP offsite workers can see what mechanical fitters on site can see, and can send them information and draw virtual arrows and diagrams to annotate physical objects.

According to Microsoft, BHP adopted HoloLens 2 to enable equipment maintenance, services and inspections that are conducted under fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) restrictions.

The technology was trialled in the Pilbara region, with BHP planning further trials at its rail workshops and with maintenance teams in Perth and the Pilbara, along with other locations in Australia, the United States and Chile.

To advance its remote operations, BHP also developed its Dash Maintainer Tools solution with support from Microsoft to allow workers to remotely collect data from machines via Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and computers connected to Microsoft’s cloud-based Azure platform.

“Our people on the front line are empowered to try new things to safely get on with the job,” BHP digital products manager Alex Bertram said.

“During COVID-19, I expected the pace of innovation to slow, but we’ve seen the opposite. People really rally together and are open to trying new things to safely get the job done.”

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