Remote Technical Support

Problem Statement

Your company builds equipment that performs major functions for a factory or other industrial operation. Alternatively, you run a facility where a big chunk of your process, or some very specialized equipment, is sourced from one vendor. Either way, there is a need for strong technical support long after the equipment is installed … but neither party wants down time, unscheduled technician visits or hefty travel expenses paid to third parties. They can try to avoid these by having conference calls, but they often find themselves in misunderstandings because they may not be talking or thinking about the same things.

Technology

When it set up the new facility, the factory installed a permanent, comprehensive video system to cover its operations. You can view live and recorded video (plus audio, where appropriate) from all of the cameras and you can select which one you wish to view. Moreover, the video system (like the security systems that is based on) has a cloud component where video clips can be hosted and shared with trusted outsiders. If the facility was especially advanced, it might be subscribed to Dartfish.tv, where videos can be tagged to be searchable and marked up with notations and comments.

Solution

When plant personnel see a problem, they can look for evidence and indications on the facility’s stored video timeline. The process owner can find representative clips, export them, host them in the cloud and share the links by email with the remote technical support persons. Alternatively, the process owner can set up a limited account on the operations video system so the remote technicians can search several relevant camera feeds directly.

When the expert has a chance to access the material, the personnel from the two parties (plant and vendor) can set up a conference call to discuss the problem. All of the parties can see the relevant video clips. If the vendor has direct access, they can watch the video feeds in real time. With recorded clips, they can at least discuss the problem while viewing the same events, machines, people and activity. If they have a live feed, the remote technician can guide the on-site personnel to do diagnostic tasks … and possibly see the results as they occur.

It is hard to see how this would not be a big time-saver. At worse, the remote technician would have a clearer understanding of the problem. The remote tech support persons may be able to direct the fix without having leave their desk. If the remote technicians do have to travel, hopefully they will arrive with the right equipment and the right plan. This should lead to faster fixes at lower cost … which leads to less downtime and more production.

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