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  1. #1
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    Default Remote Tech Support

    Did'ja see the article on page 18 of the March issue of Industrial Machinery Digest?

    Industrial Machinery Digest - March 2020 by Industrial Machinery Digest | IMD by Source 360 Media - Issuu


    I have actually done this - not this service, but I did get help from a tech recently where he wanted to use a "facetime" type program, I forget what it is called, but I don't have a smart phone, but used my notebook from home.

    The idea is great, but I had trouble with losing signal as I would poke the camera near the electrical cabinet, even tho I had the hot-spot only a few feet away. Maybe actual cell phones work better? At least the camera is pointed the other direction so that you can see the other guy while he sees your machine... Doesn't work so well with the notebook...

    This program obviously has more bells and whistles than simply using the facetime type features.


    I'm sure this will be the help of the future. Especially considering how there are so few kids coming up that are interested in this type work [currently]. Although my boy has a chum that is a machinery tech of some sort and goes all over on calls. But I find this to be an oddity as it seems most techs today are 50 or older?

    Anyhow - with [apparently] less people interested in filling the service tech void, I'm thinking that this may be a big help in making good use of the few individuals that ARE dooing that work.

    ???


    ----------------------

    Think Snow Eh!
    Ox

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    I saw something similar a few years ago in an article, the tech had a wearable camera (in his glasses).

    IIRC they also projected some "help" onto the wearers glasses, like a schematic or exploded view.

    sounds like a headache.

    However, the camera only (with headphones & mic) to work with a remote tech sounds plausible/useful

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    We just started up a machine in Green Bay . . . customer would not let our lead engineer on the project on site without first going through a 14 day quarantine because he was from the Seattle area. We set him up with Remote Desktop and he assisted from home. We use Slack a lot for this as well with the ability to share a video feed.

    if you want to get really serious, you can get a RealWear headset . . . Home - RealWear

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    Something I learned years ago when mentoring young engineers is "give them some hints then let them figure it out" rather than handing them the answer. It's interesting how that same logic works with customers when you aren't available to hop on a plane and fly to Europe at the drop of a hat. It's also interesting how when shops are closed and travel is restricted most requests for software/hardware/vision changes that in the past would have been life or death turn out to be minor enhancements that can wait. In one sense it's a shame because those minor changes are a good revenue source, but the reduced workload has been nice.

    We're an internal machine supplier to our own company. Only a few of our machines are outside our company's firewall so we can remote in and view logs, vision images, etc. We do most of our off-site support using TightVNC and communicating to an engineer at the machine via Skype. We've talked about installing video surveillance cameras inside our machines but haven't made the leap yet. My view is it's more useful for a "wow" factor during plant tours by management than as a troubleshooting tool.

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    When I was an engineer at a medical device company, I led the project to add remote diagnostics to the flagship instrument.
    It was something the Tech Support dept resisted at first, but after having it for a few months, it became "we'll give it up when you pry it out of my cold dead hands" kind of thing. When you can connect to a failing piece of machinery that's on another continent and figure out what's wrong before sending out an expensive field service technician, you can save huge amounts of $$$. After a year, they admitted that they had no idea how they ever managed to work without it.

    Back then it was a new concept but now the whole field of IoT (Internet of Things) is taking off like gangbusters!

    I used TeamViewer a few months ago to develop a User Interface for a motion control system that was few hundred miles away. The system was far too large to ship to my location, and it wasn't a big enough project for me to travel there, so the client set it up with a webcam and lighting facing the mechanism I was controlling and I wrote the code and uploaded it to the PC that drove the control system and then I could test by watching the numeric feedback on my UI and also seeing the yokes move as I commanded them.
    Not something I'd want to do again, but we got it to work in a reasonable amount of time. I just had to be careful not to do anything that could require someone to hit the E-Stop :-)

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    About half of our machines in North America are connected to a 4G wireless network using a product called CradlePoint . . . we can log on to them any time of night or day if we get a service call and typically can trouble shoot and guide the on-site maintenance tech on how to go about fixing what is broken. These are complex machines that can have upwards of 40-Axes of motion control managing the process of making up to 750 bottles / minute from molten glass. You can't just shut off the glass if the machine goes down so uptime is extremely important.

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    I'm sure it will be a bigger and bigger thing over time.

    There may be cheaper paths to the same function that grow out of remote software debugging (e.g. gotomeeting) and the markup functions of zoom.
    (Yes, zoom has security issues, but the function is still there.)

    In particular, if my laptop/ipad/smartphone can video, and share its screen with someone, AND they can mark that up, then a person on the other end can point at something. (Function like realwear seems to describe, but more cobbled up, but out of very commodity devices.) Actually just learned how to do that with zoom on a meeting last wednesday - it's super helpful.

    If using a commodity device, some kind of stand (as in a tripod) to hold the camera still may be helpful.

    The computer and software industry has a LONG history of this sort of thing. And the key lesson will be that while it fixes travel issues, and two way video means the helper can demonstrate what to do, expert skills on the part of the helper are still super key. So your tech may not have to make nearly as many trips to places they'd rather not go, but they still have to really know what they're doing. Motion Guru's example surely involved somebody central to the design of the machine.

    Given the beating some parts of the economy have taken, the pool of people who want to do such work may grow - and I'll note the tech who installed my VF5 was waaay under 50.

    Another side effect is that good internet support, and good basic IT, will continue to be ever more critical to ever more corners of the economy.

    An unpleasent thing may be fragmentation of required tools. Email clients can pretty much all talk to each other. But if the helper/tech is used to zoom or gotomeeting or <whatever>, then the customer/user will often need to be able to install and run (securely) the client for that tool.

    Which means that certain basic skills innate to customer staff will be key too. If you have a shop with only low level loaders, none of whom could recognize a multi-meter, much less use it, debugging electronic things will be very hard.

    Aside - a friend had big bump arise, for no apparent reason, on his elbow last week. They called a nurse line, and eventually did a call, maybe with video, or maybe by just sending a picture with imessage. Net effect - doctor is totally sure what it is, there is no need to travel into town where the medical facilities are facing a heavy pandemic load, etc. etc. Simple telemedicine - "hey Doc, here's a pic, what should I do?"
    Will surely be more of a norm for many things from now on. And generally save time/risk/money and focus resource on serious issues. But that's in a household full of VERY technically adept people (even though the couple is 60.) My late mother? Forget it. My slightly younger brother (59) - gonna be sketchy.

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    Why has it taken so long?
    In the late 90's I installed remote access software on the grinders built.
    Some would call with questions about this or that problem.
    I'd tell them to plug a second land line into the modem and give me the phone number.
    I have complete control over the machine and sort of real time feedback on signals. You talked to a person standing in front on another phone line while saying this is what I am doing.
    "see that pointer moving , that is me". Customers where amazed but truth being I did not want to drive 200-600 miles.
    For sure the ability to push the green button remotely is a violation of safety rules now.

    Now we have the net, video and real bandwidth.
    Often now as then the travel time, housing, etc for a tech is more a time cost than actual fixing a problem time.
    High speed internet and wireless changes things.

    There is nothing like a expert on the floor in front of the machine. This cost money so a approach that make take more time but is cost effective?
    As tools and bandwidth increase this "remote fixing or testing" makes so much sense.
    Then how you get charged for tech time? Somewhere and somehow that time must be paid for. People will not work for free.
    Bob

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    If you provide remote call in help, doo you need to talk like Apu ?....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ox View Post
    Did'ja see the article on page 18 of the March issue of Industrial Machinery Digest?

    Industrial Machinery Digest - March 2020 by Industrial Machinery Digest | IMD by Source 360 Media - Issuu


    I have actually done this - not this service, but I did get help from a tech recently where he wanted to use a "facetime" type program, I forget what it is called, but I don't have a smart phone, but used my notebook from home.

    The idea is great, but I had trouble with losing signal as I would poke the camera near the electrical cabinet, even tho I had the hot-spot only a few feet away. Maybe actual cell phones work better? At least the camera is pointed the other direction so that you can see the other guy while he sees your machine... Doesn't work so well with the notebook...

    This program obviously has more bells and whistles than simply using the facetime type features.


    I'm sure this will be the help of the future. Especially considering how there are so few kids coming up that are interested in this type work [currently]. Although my boy has a chum that is a machinery tech of some sort and goes all over on calls. But I find this to be an oddity as it seems most techs today are 50 or older?

    Anyhow - with [apparently] less people interested in filling the service tech void, I'm thinking that this may be a big help in making good use of the few individuals that ARE dooing that work.

    ???


    ----------------------

    Think Snow Eh!
    Ox
    Hey Ox, just a pro-tip. If you turn on your phone's wifi, it will pull service locally from you're internet versus a cell provider.

    I used to do corporate software dev and support until India made coding and software support cheap. Good to know that these big machines need as much love and moreso in person.

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    My tablet only has wifi.


    ---------------

    Think Snow Eh!
    Ox

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ox View Post
    My tablet only has wifi.


    ---------------

    Think Snow Eh!
    Ox
    Well derp derp me. You'd be surprised how often i've had to explain to my parents to turn on wifi when they want to facetime with me.

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    During the 90s I was doing system control of my remote video equipment using a combination of ISDN video conferencing, modem control via PC Anywhere (DOS, baby) and a DTMF tone reader/switcher (over the ISDN line). I could do everything except actually load the video tape machines.

    Now, I could do everything required with my phone, and nobody knows what video tape is. Because they all 'film' with their phones.

    But yeah, it sure beats driving/traveling.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chip Chester View Post

    Now, I could do everything required with my phone, and nobody knows what video tape is. Because they all 'film' with their phones.

    .
    I still refer to them as "VTR's"...2" ampex reel to reel ?
    2" Ampex cartridges ? (I have 1 of each)

    Or maybe 1" sony reel to reel or "Ü-matic" cassettes ?

    fun times eh ?

    At least it was much more professional content & execution back then.

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    Although I have used all of those formats in the past, and still have a BVU-800 3/4" machine, a couple BetaSP, DVCPRO, DVCam, and a slew of AG-7750 pro VHS machines, this particular job was M-II. Ugh. Had a couple of BVW-75-equivalent machines (don't remember the model number) and various additional equipment on the system.

    The elegance in design and execution of VTRs and ATRs is what got me interested in machining in the first place. Some of that old stuff is incredibly complex, both electronically and mechanically. There's a reason some of them cost as much as my first house.

    Although content and execution was more expensive back then, there were still people with more money than taste.

    In the 80s, a pro video edit suite (multiple 1" tape machines, GrassValley 300 switcher, edit controller, ADO digital effects, character generator, audio) was basically a million dollars per room.

    Now I can do it all on my phone, better. Times change.


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