In a nuclear facility, safety is the first priority.
Working in a nuclear plant means constantly monitoring radiation dose. Whenever we can find ways to get closer to zero, we explore them.
Most of the radiation is safely trapped in fuel pellets and rods, but sometimes Exelon employees and their supervisors do have to enter sensitive parts of the facility for critical safety work. So we asked: is there a way to do the job better? Could innovative technology be brought into some nuclear operations and change everything?
First, the team tried a remotely piloted robot.
Exelon started working with a team at LaSalle Nuclear Station to determine how to bring innovative technology to the nuclear space. They decided to try a robot: an iPad on wheels that can be controlled remotely. Then, they did a fast pilot to learn if it worked, sending only two workers into the plant’s sensitive area along with the robot. The rest of the team could see what they were seeing, and do their jobs from a remote control room. The results were promising – but we wanted to do more.
The next iteration: safety goggles transformed into digital glass.
Could wearable glass technology, video streaming and “see what I see” technology create an even safer and more efficient workplace?
Our vision is that, with digital glass technology, Exelon might often send just one person to accomplish a task in a sensitive area rather than a few. He or she can send live images of work activities to a team for remote monitoring and verification. An ideal device will enable remote certification, training, and real-time conversations with experts in a different location – all of it hands-free, so workers can do their jobs as they always have, without interruption.
Now, we can have a fast, easy, productive connection with experts everywhere.
Digital wearable technology means Exelon can have the most experienced and knowledgeable people on every job. With remote communication, the most knowledgeable worker can assist 3-4 less experienced employees and be on hand for questions, predict potential issues, and work with the field operator to minimize delays and errors. Newer employees will be mentored on every job. With an accelerated learning curve, newer employees will perform better and more efficiently in a shorter period time. They’ll also have access to a video archive of emergency repairs and other maintenance work rather than just diagrams and illustrations.
Exelon has a large roster of expert resources across America. Today, to leverage those resources, we pick up the phone or send an email. Soon employees can log on to their computers and interact live with other Exelon employees, seeing what they see live and first hand, troubleshooting and advising quickly, seeing the results on the spot.
Exelon’s vision of a digital worker is close to becoming reality.
Exelon is now working with security and technology vendors to develop hardware and custom software – the backbone of everything we want to accomplish with digital wearable technology.
Phase one is “see what I see” technology, including video live streaming, and command center control that enables remote experts. Next, will be a two-way wearable user interface that includes two-way content, a heads-up display, document display and training videos. The third phase: augmented reality. Exelon imagines adding to the physical world we all work in with audio, video, graphics, GPS and imagery.
The project is part of our bigger, transformative goal to have a digital worker equipped with all the power of technology. This means not only wearables, but proximity sensors that can make people more productive and enhance safety. We believe the Digital Worker will scale across all types of jobs throughout the Exelon workforce, and all business functions.
Exelon customers benefit the most.
Digital wearable technology and video will make us better, faster and smarter for our customers. For example, utility line workers could use this “see-what-I-see” technology to help reduce storm restoration time. Power outages could be shortened and Exelon customers, better served.