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Wolffkran digital maintenance system utilizes smart glasses to streamline remote diagnostics

Hands-free, voice-controlled smart glasses relay technician's field of view

A technician equipped with the WOLFF Assist smart glasses Wolffkran

Wolffkran's WOLFF Assist is a digital remote maintenance system that is hands-free and voice-controlled using smart glasses that help when a tower crane's control electronics suddenly fail during use, the brakes malfunction, or if problems arise during reeving. The remote assistance tool debuted at bauma 2022 and is now widely used by WOLFF service technicians. Contractors can also benefit from using the new system. 

"Of course, you can also quickly and easily solve some of these problems with a video call," says Achim Spillmann, director of after-sales service at Wolffkran GmbH. "But WOLFF Assist is more than just a conventional communications tool with video calling. It is a smart service tool that has been specifically tailored for the demands of a construction site and crane." 

The smart glasses make up the centrepiece of WOLFF Assist. Equipped with a camera, microphone, and monitor, these smart glasses are worn on the head or attached to the helmet, allowing the technician on the crane to have their hands free at all times, which is a major benefit in terms of safety and flexibility. The glasses transmit the field of vision of the technician on the construction site to WOLFF service experts in real-time. In other words, it shows exactly what the technician on the crane is seeing and can specifically assist them with troubleshooting – either verbally, via chat, or even via screen sharing with a highlighting function. 

WOLFF Assist offers voice control in a variety of languages. Once an internet connection is established via a smartphone and smart glasses on the network, it only takes a few voice commands to patch in an available service expert to the situation on the crane live and 24/7.

"The application is able to simultaneously translate spoken and written words into multiple languages. That is particularly noteworthy for international applications and also takes into account the wide range of nationalities at the construction sites," explains Achim Spillmann. "Needless to say, service technicians can also use the remote tool to connect to and help each other to reach a solution more quickly."

If desired, the resulting images and videos of the conversation can be saved and retrieved again. No special software is required since WOLFF Assist is a web application. 

Wolffkran says that average repair times have been reduced by up to 70 percent and service costs have been decreased by up to 50 percent per year. WOLFF Assist can also be used as a training tool for crane personnel or technicians. 

All Wolffkran users, from technicians to crane operators, have the opportunity to purchase the smart glasses and use WOLFF Assist with an annual license. One pair of smart glasses can be used by several registered people. In addition, WOLFF Assist can also be used on a tablet, smartphone, or laptop without smart glasses. Numerous additional features are being planned to update the application. For instance, the Wolffkran team is currently working on a technical dictionary specifically for cranes.

Wolffkran says that freeing your hands is the important thing. The smart glasses are worn on the head, and voice commands are used to control WOLFF Assist. The instructions from technical experts are provided either orally, in writing, or visually via the monitor – including translation, where appropriate. As a result, errors can be resolved up to 70 percent faster than via conventional methods, which means reduced idle time at the construction site. 

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