A virtual inspection allows an inspector to remotely view a site using a webcam or 360° camera on-site at a location. Due to COVID-19, virtual inspections have become necessary to move transactions forward or comply with regulations. Virtual inspections require close collaboration between the onsite team and remote inspectors to work, and they have different requirements than in-person inspections. That’s why we here at AVATOUR created this virtual inspection checklist. Going through this checklist before every virtual inspection will help you and the onsite team be prepared and ready for a smooth inspection.
Identify Goal of Inspection
Depending on the type of inspection or audit you are running, you will need to identify clear goals for the purpose of the virtual inspection.
- What are you trying to achieve and how will you get that done? What is the definition of a successful inspection? Which decisions or deliverables are “must haves” and which are “nice to haves?”
- Is the technology you’re using suited to the task? You may need different tools based on the type of inspection you are doing. For example, a virtual facility inspection may require real-time 360° technology, rather than standard face-to-face videoconferencing.
Consider Internet Access
If you want real-time visuals, you’ll need to ensure the inspection site has appropriate internet connectivity.
- Facilities such as manufacturing sites may have low connectivity.
- Contact facility personnel to check on wifi requirements, uplink and downlink strength.
- Ask if wifi is available or not? If not, then LTE wireless may be an option. In either case, you should perform bandwidth tests at the inspection site to ensure connectivity.
- Consider using a connection testing tool such as Avatour’s Connection Diagnostics. This tool allows you to proactively validate connection quality throughout a site in advance of the inspection.
Choose a Platform & Device with Camera
Based on the type of inspection you are running, what is the best platform that will help you and your team get the job done right? There are different platforms available, which are best suited for different types of inspections.
- Standard videoconference platforms such as Facetime, Skype, and Zoom are excellent for face to face meetings, however their field of view is limited to where the camera is pointed. As a result, remote inspectors are forced to relinquish control over what they see to the local operator. This can be problematic for site inspections.
- Smartglasses-based solutions, such as Atheer or Librestream, connect a remote person with the immediate viewpoint of an on-site person. These tools are especially useful for inspections of equipment such as engines or patch panels.
- A 360° remote presence platform such as Avatour provides remote users with the complete context of the inspection site in real time. It’s best suited for cases where an inspector requires visibility to an entire site, facility or location.
Decide on Plan for Recording and Data Storage
It’s important to determine what is to be recorded in advance, and how it will be stored.
- Some sites will not permit any recording whatsoever. If you hope to store a recording, be sure to clear it beforehand with the site representatives.
- It’s important that sensitive property data be protected as well so check in with your virtual inspection platform that the data is secured and stored properly
Determine Flow of Virtual Inspection
A virtual inspection requires more planning than an in-person meeting, so be sure to coordinate with the onsite team in advance.
- Get advance agreement on the locations you would like to inspect. A map and/or floor plan will be helpful during this process.
- Jointly estimate how long the inspection will take, but be prepared if technical difficulties or discoveries will cause the inspection to exceed the schedule.
- Consider how you’d like the meeting to proceed, and map out “waypoints” where specific actions will occur with specific personnel.
Determine Inspection Roles
A virtual inspection can have many different participants. Determine in advance who will participate.
- Determine the person who will lead and coordinate the inspection.
- Determine the person that examines the work product to identify possible defects.
- Consider including a reader on your team who can read through documents, one item at a time, so the other inspector can focus on the visual aspect.
- Consider including a Recorder/Scribe to document notes and callouts during the inspection.
- With a virtual inspection (versus a physical inspection), no one has to travel, so there’s a lot more flexibility. Consider expanding your team and/or scheduling some personnel to only join for relevant portions of the session.
Upload documentation photos and plan to take photos
To perform virtual inspections most platforms will allow you to upload pictures and video during the inspection to follow along to.
- What assets are those and are they ready to go during the meeting time?
- These assets allow inspectors to clearly detail why inspections fail and to address how to pass the inspection.
- During an inspection, tools like AVATOUR remote presence allow you to take photos of a facility during a virtual inspection. Keep these files on photos so you can specify why someone failed or passed an inspection.
Schedule and Invite Participants
Once you’ve completed all of the items above, you or the inspection moderator can start scheduling your virtual inspections.
- Invite the right people – you team members that have roles during the inspection and the onsite team who you are inspecting.
Start by simplifying the manufacturing process, improving accuracy, and exceeding regulatory and compliance requirements with virtual inspections. With these checklist items in mind, risk to the organization will be significantly reduced and overall quality will improve. We hope this list will help you be better prepared for your next — or first — virtual inspection.