Do you buy a pig in a poke? Probably not. Presenting machines and equipment live so that customers can experience and test them has been part of our daily business for decades. But what if a regular demonstration is not possible due to a pandemic? The story of our colleagues in the Netherlands shows how this challenge can be solved creatively without having to upgrade to full digital capability.
Today, the range of what is technically possible is wide. From classic YouTube videos to digital conferences and live consultation with VR (Virtual Reality) glasses everything is offered. But can all this replace a regular demonstration? Can you experience the ergonomics of a workstation with VR glasses, feel with your own hands and see with your eyes how easy it is to control complex processes? We say yes and no – and explain this using a creative solution from our colleagues in the Netherlands.
The initial situation
At the beginning of the year, the Dutch municipality of Texel invited tenders for the replacement of its entire winter maintenance equipment fleet. It was important to the municipality – ultimately committed to road safety – to bring its fleet up to the latest state of the art, to convert from dry to pre-wetted salt spreading and to automate critical elements such as route selection, dosage or spreading width on the basis of experience. An important part of the tender was the demonstration of the machines and equipment, because the municipality understandably did not want to believe the paper alone, but wanted to see machines and systems in practice. Well, and then came the pandemic and with it the lockdown. Of course, the duration of the call for tenders took no account of this.
Instead of using a smartphone to talk to a video, which is usually written on paper, and thus does not convey much more practice, as is the case with paper, the demo team of Aebi Schmidt Nederland dealt with the possibilities of the existing instruments in a pragmatic, quick and uncomplicated way. The result is a demonstration within the framework of a regular video conference. However, one aspect played an important role here, which we actually also advertise on paper, namely that the systems of Aebi Schmidt correspond to a working method that is logical for the machine operator. This logic allows the process to be presented and handled in a simple and understandable way. This is exactly what the demonstration employee of Aebi Schmidt did and his colleague commented the process live with the aid of a second camera. Other experts were connected to the demonstration, which was carried out live and without editing, from their home workplaces and were able to comment on the process and directly answer any questions arising from the Texel municipality.
The recording of reference routes, the detection of deviations or even interventions from the remote control centre can also be demonstrated with a simple video conferencing connection. Such a live demonstration is actually somewhat more credible than just paper or a prepared video. In any case, we were able to convince the municipality of Texel and win the tender despite the difficult conditions due to the pandemic. We would like to thank the Municipality of Texel for their trust and for the fact that they spontaneously and uncomplicatedly agreed to a pragmatic, honest and fair demonstration.