How 360° remote collaboration is transforming the manufacturing space

Jan. 18, 2022
Manufacturing site visits have always entailed considerable financial investment.

By Devon Copley, founder and CEO of Avatour

Site meetings have always been an integral part of the manufacturing process across industries. At the same time, the logistics of attendance at these meetings at often far-flung locations has always been challenging and costly. Even before COVID-19 made many site visits difficult or impossible; these visits were constrained by the high cost of travel, logistical challenges, safety and security concerns, and the disruptive nature of the visits themselves.

Manufacturing site visits—whether for marketing and sales, inspections and audits, or training and process deployment—have always entailed considerable financial investment. For example, the cost of an average three-day business trip is between $1,200-$2,525 per person. Since even mid-sized companies often have multiple locations spanning the world and need to bring various people on site several times a year, their annual travel cost is typically well over $1M.

To make an already challenging situation almost impossible, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused travel and supply chain disruptions, creating urgent new problems while simultaneously making on-site visits more difficult. These ongoing difficulties have compelled manufacturing leaders to leverage a new technology as an effective substitute for site meetings.

Why 360° collaboration: The right tools for the right job

Enter the latest advancement in remote collaboration: 360° manufacturing site meetings. Instead of traveling to a physical location, manufacturers, inspectors, and other stakeholders can connect with each other on-site without the need to travel.

Industry analysts at Merus Capital describe 360° remote collaboration as the ideal solution for site meeting applications, stating: “This scenario is less about the human interactions and more about actually being at a physical site for a walkthrough or inspection. This scenario, by definition, almost always occurred in person but the pandemic has made people realize that there can be huge cost savings and efficiencies gained by being able to do these remotely. Standard tools like Zoom are usable, but very ill-suited for this scenario.”

Indeed, not all remote-collaboration tools are created equal, and standard videoconferencing isn’t the best option for site meetings. In order to be a viable tool for manufacturing, a remote-collaboration platform must provide the detail and context needed to make important decisions with regards to quality, safety and other concerns. 

Traditional videoconferencing tools (e.g. Zoom, Microsoft Teams) were designed to capture faces, and do a poor job of capturing the full context of a location. However, live, 360° shared-context tools were designed specifically for this application, and do a far better job of enabling remote, site-specific meetings including inspections, training and tours.

What makes this kind of technology unique? Viewer autonomy enables visitors to feel physically present and select their unique point of view. With 360° remote collaboration, the POV is no longer relegated to that of the camera operator. Additionally, the technology includes collaboration features such as capture & annotation, session recording, and secondary camera sources, serving the requirements of site meetings.

Specific uses in manufacturing

There are several manufacturing use cases in which remote collaboration can prove a viable substitute or supplement to existing site meetings.

Inspections: For manufacturing inspections, remote collaboration can be leveraged by manufacturers, their customers, and their suppliers to conduct supplier-compliance audits, process reviews, FDA inspection prep, and more. Remote collaboration helps manufacturers conduct more frequent inspections if needed, all while minimizing the on-site disruption typically associated with in-person visits.

Tours for sales and marketing: Facility tours have always been crucial for closing the deal between manufacturers and their customers. Remote collaboration helps organizations bring potential customers or stakeholders on-site from anywhere in the world, avoiding travel restrictions and costs.

Safety training & method transfer: On-site safety training and method transfer can be disruptive for sites and sometimes dangerous for personnel or facilities. With remote collaboration, manufacturers can safely conduct site training by providing an immersive experience for their employees.


With remote tools at their disposal, companies can conduct business without travel, giving them the ability to make more informed decisions about conducting remote visits, improve the quality of visits and processes, and conduct more frequent visits.

360° remote collaboration is a new and valuable tool for manufacturers, driving both increased efficiency and new revenue. Although the future course of the pandemic is impossible to predict, it’s certain that the deployment of remote-collaboration technologies for manufacturing will only increase in the coming months and years. Advantage will accrue to those firms that make the most effective use of these new technologies in their operations.