Case: When Waratah Could not Host Guests at the Plant, a Virtual Tour was the Solution

Businesses around the world have been thinking of how to solve problems related to the constraints imposed by the COVID-19-pandemic. From the customer relations point of view, problematic situations have been related in particular to the lack of physical meetings.

Waratah OM Ltd manufactures harvester heads for forest machines in Joensuu and Tampere, Finland. Harvester heads have a global market. The marketing of the company needed new means of communication when, as a result of the pandemic, the company was unable to present its products at trade fairs – let alone in its own premises.

In marketing Waratah uses the industry’s newspaper advertising, various events and social media, especially through Facebook and Youtube videos. In order to make the presentation more successful even in times when even guests cannot be invited to the production facilities, Waratah decided to do a virtual tour of the production facilities. The purpose of the virtual tour was to highlight Waratah’s quality work, which shows how it has taken things into account at different stages, all the way from collection of materials to the testing of the products, which are ready to be shipped to the customers.

As an international business, Waratah has produced various marketing communications content around the world, but the Waratah staff located in Finland wanted to increase their own know-how and experience in utilizing new types of marketing communications. When there was an actual need for introductory marketing communications, a virtual tour on the premises was seen as a very good option.

Company: Waratah OM Ltd

Waratah OM Ltd is a company jointly-owned by Outokumpu Metalli Ltd and John Deere Forestry Ltd. Waratah designs and manufactures harvester heads and measuring equipment for forest machines. At Outokumpu Metalli plant Waratah produces the bodies of the harvester heads. Activities include welding, machining, painting and assembly. Outokumpu Metalli has been manufacturing harvester heads since 1984 and has been a pioneer in mechanical logging. Waratah OM Ltd is responsible for product development and product support for harvester heads.

The final assembly, including electrical and hydraulic installations and a test run, will be carried out at Waratah OM’s plant. The company’s products are used in harvesters in one of the product categories of John Deere, a company known worldwide for being a leading forest machine company. Harvester heads in John Deere machines are branded with John Deere brand, but numerous forest machines from other manufacturers are marketed under the Waratah brand. Waratah operates in Joensuu and Tampere and has about 50 employees.



Youtube: Waratah Attachments

Production of the harvester head begins with the collection of components needed for welding at Outokummun Metalli’s plant.

What did we do with Waratah?

The virtual tour, which presents Waratah’s Joensuu factory, was created together with the media students of Karelia University of Applied Sciences. Waratah and the students designed the content for implementation on Thinglink service. The material can be embedded in a website or distributed as a link. The implementation consists mostly of 360 images with facts related to manufacturing and assembly, as well as the operating environment of the factory. The virtual tour has also utilized background sound in the different locations, which increases the feeling of immersion.

During the tour, the process proceeds step by step, while describing the functions with the help of photos and texts added to the virtual tour. As visitor progresses in virtual tour, it is easy to get to know the different stages at one’s own pace and in the order of one’s choice, but the virtual tour also naturally guides the visitor along the process, so that things related to manufacturing take place in order.

Pilvi Dufva, a lecturer who supervised the student project, said that the cooperation with Waratah was excellent, as the students received the required information and good filming opportunities from Waratah. The attitude of the participants in the project was to learn and let other people learn, which resulted in well-thought solutions that could be executed.

Prior to the actual filming, students had confidence that 360-footage, as well as more conventional 2D-photography, would work well within the guidelines received. That is important when the subject of filming is an industrial plant where the safety of attendees must be taken care of.

It can be seen from the implementation that the different spaces have different lighting, which has some effect on how the situations have been recorded. The wording of the implementation is such, that the target public, those working in the forest industry and in particular the representatives of forest machine contractors, have a good understanding of things. It should not matter whether they are experts in manufacturing or other workers with less technical details and more generally people in the forest industry.

The processes communicate quality, and the chosen tone of communication emphasizes that different target audiences find communication appropriate but also easy to understand.

Check out the implementation below or from the link to view it on full screen: