Public Voting

Category: Next-Generation Customer Experience

Dean Haverstraw

Director of IT, Samson Inc.

Supernova Award Category: 
Next-Generation Customer Experience
The Organization: 

Samson is the leading producer of high-performance synthetic ropes based in Washington, USA.  Among its many innovations, Samson invented the double braid and pioneered the first high modulus polyethylene fiber ropes. NASA has exclusively used Samson ropes to retrieve all the space capsules and shuttle cargo on flights. Today, Samson engineers continue to pioneer the use of new fiber technology and the development of innovative coatings and constructions to produce ropes with unprecedented performance characteristics.

Samson’s commitment to customers includes field engineering consultation and support, products custom-designed to solve a specific customer problem, and after-sale support including customer-specific operating manuals, and field inspection.

The Problem: 

Samson has ropes that are deployed on vessels and ships. These ropes are very critical and need to be inspected regularly as they keep secure very valuable customer assets. Existing inspections were done largely on paper and data was not integrated with our CRM system- Salesforce.  This led to data integrity issues and a lack of real-time data for analysis. Existing methods to perform rope inspections were unreliable and often tedious with manual instruments. The rope inspection team was facing challenges to register new & enhanced inspections in Salesforce and implement them on-field.

 

Our technicians had to visit customer locations and rely on visual examination to identify chafe and other defects. It was not easy to identify the specific asset attributes of the rope being inspected and its related data points. Customers and other external users wanting to conduct ad hoc inspections did not have adequate infrastructure and support to verify readings and standardize new procedures. Our predictive maintenance was not optimal as we were not able to manage our assets well. This posed a risk that rope damage not detected or maintained in time can cause losses for our customers.

The Solution: 

One of our criteria was to work with a vendor who had experience developing mobile & web apps for Inspections. To bring innovation in customer experience, Samson partnered with Unvired to build and deploy a Hybrid Inspection App for iOS, Android, Windows 10 Tablets, and Web with AR functionality. The app allows Samson employees, customers, and external users to perform the guided rope inspections and push the data to Salesforce for analysis and automatic report generation.
 

 

To take multiple rope measurements with reliable accuracy, the mobile app is built with AR functionality to visually identify the extent of damage while annotating using the Abrasion scale. The app has an in-built Custom Annotator to annotate inspection pictures and highlight damages, wear and tear, etc. 

The app supports NFC/RFID scanning to identify rope products using certification Numbers and obtain product information to assist the user with the configuration of the product.

The Results: 

The key customer benefits include predictable reliable performance, cost savings, deeper insights about rope usage and retirements, enhanced customer service, and safer operations. It also enables Samson to generate additional revenues at the point of service delivery. After we deployed the app, our customers and technicians have an easily adaptable, yet powerful solution that improves operational efficiency and productivity. The mobile app is fully functional offline, which enables work continuity for field technicians and engineers to capture and access rich data no matter where they are. The ability to update and enhance the inspection process irrespective of the user permission on the app streamlines the rope inspection process.

Technicians can now leverage this wealth of contextual information to offer recommended actions to customers to enhance safety and reduce risk during rope usage. The Augmented Reality rope measurement feature empowers workers with a reliable and easy-to-use tool for accurate measurements, saving time and effort. The rope measurement using the AR feature of the app is one of the first successfully demonstrated use cases of augmented reality in our industry. We believe that this solution has significant disruption potential.

It further enhances the services and features offered to customers consolidating Samson’s position in the synthetic rope industry.

 

Metrics: 

 

  • Reduced Support Cost: Support costs AFTER my project have been reduced by 30-40%. Due to less travel, remote analysis and recommendations as well as the higher frequency of data collection, it has allowed us to increase the overall number and frequency of inspections, usage tracking, and preventative maintenance.
  • New opportunities to generate revenue: This has allowed us to generate revenue through the Icaria Service Platform and identify value-added activities that we can offer on an a la carte basis. Where service had been a cost of doing business, it is now an opportunity to do more business.
  • Increased Productivity: Productivity improvement has been in both our operations and that of our customers. Eliminating unnecessary travel allows us to do more for our customers remotely.
The Technology: 

The Samson app is built for iOS, Android, Windows 10 tablets, and the web using UDEP. The app is integrated with Salesforce and Amazon S3 to store inspection data and image captures. To enable AR functionality, the mobile app is integrated with ARCore for Android app and ARKit for iOS respectively. The image annotation feature was enabled using Unvired’s internally developed Image Annotator. NFC was integrated to read the tags with the rope identifiers.

Disruptive Factor: 

The integration of data at the edge (in the field) with Salesforce enables business and IT to collaborate better for enhanced decision making.  Customers are able to order enhanced inspections reports which enables Samson to sell additional consulting services at the point of service delivery.

 

The rope measurement using the AR feature of the mobile app is one of the first successfully demonstrated use cases of augmented reality. On a wider scale, it has the potential to eliminate manual measurement calculation procedures, which are often quite tedious but are considered to be a necessity. Object dimensions can be easily measured irrespective of the shape or size. For instance, the ropes are highly irregular and their lengths often touch massive scales, the AR feature can accurately measure the length of the rope at a fraction of the time it takes by using manual instruments.

Press Release: https://samsonrope.com/about/news-events/newsdetail?title=Samson%20ICARIA%E2%84%A2%202.0

App Video: https://youtu.be/ar9x-Nw_KD8

Shining Moment: 

Multiple technologies were incorporated in the app where inspection reports are automatically generated simplifying documentation and compliance while accurately recording measurements. NFC was integrated to read the tags so that the user got accurate and timely information about the particular rope.  AR helped to measure the rope without resorting to a messy tape measure.  Bringing together such disparate technologies in an app was appreciated by both customers and employees.

About Samson Inc.

For 141 years, Samson has been recognized as a worldwide leader in the development and manufacture of high-performance ropes. Today, Samson continue to pioneer the use of new fiber technology and the development of innovative coatings and constructions to produce ropes with unprecedented performance. For more about Samson, visit Samson Rope - Marine, Commercial, Utility Rope and More.