Manufacturers are well aware of the benefits of remote management technology in light of social distancing mandates and travel bans related to COVID-19. Armed with a camera, an Internet connection, and some special software, maintenance technicians located offsite can help onsite operators manage or fix equipment on the plant floor.
This setup, however, is limited to the line of sight of the operator holding the tablet or smartphone used to stream the machine data to the offsite expert. What’s really needed to make remote management an integral part of the factory of the future is a way to get a holistic view of the machine, the line, and the entire plant floor.
Enter Adtance, an after-sales service technology provider, which earlier this year introduced new capabilities within the Adtance Support module of its cloud-based Smart Services Platform 4.0.
The service platform supports everything from ticketing, document management, workflow, parts, visualization, and predictive maintenance. Now, with the addition of the Adtance Fieldstreaming offering, the suite includes a module for live remote support capable of connecting every type of camera to the system, including cameras within smartphones, tablets, computers, security cameras, drones, and even underwater remote operated vehicles (ROVs). This enables live stream views of machines from various angles simultaneously.
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“We’ve seen customer demand for live remote support, training, and collaboration skyrocket, in part because of the current COVID-19 challenges, but also due to increasingly complex machines and a shortage of highly skilled technicians,” said Nils Arnold, co-founder and CEO of Adtance. “Our new Adtance Support and Fieldstreaming solution is uniquely suited to address the growing set of remote service use cases. Companies want service technicians to be able to view machines from a variety of angles in real-time, conduct live remote user training from multiple perspectives, and collaborate remotely using multiple cameras. Our new Support Module and Fieldstreaming Solution makes all these use cases possible and simple.”
The Fieldstreaming system comes with a case of equipment comprised of any number and types of cameras as well as a power supply unit, an internet cable, and connection cables for each camera. Using Adtance Support, the stationary cameras can be controlled remotely by a service technician as can moving cameras, which allows for tilt and zoom for viewing a machine from different angles or to get a big picture view of the plant.
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In addition to remote support for maintenance, the Support Fieldstreaming set up can be used for training, for factory acceptance tests (FATs), or to improve collaboration and communication.
Users can start a session by sending a message, document, or video recording in addition to initiating a session through a video call. No app is needed, as it runs on all browsers and mobile devices, the company said, with invitations to sessions shared by simply sending a link.
At any time during a session, users can send messages, documents, recordings, open a live video chat, or collaborate using a digital whiteboard. In addition, snapshots can be taken during live video streams and users can mark up the video with circles, arrows, or pertinent notes. The module also now allows closed sessions to be reactivated and viewed again at any time. The documentation remains in place and participants can be invited back into the session. This saves time and significantly improves customer service, especially when there is a complex or recurring problem with the same customer.
While there are many after-sales offerings available to manufactures, what sets Adtance apart is its comprehensive offering, Arnold said. “What makes us unique is that we are the only company currently which can provide our customers with a single point of connection if they want to digitize their customer service,” he said referring to the centralized Smart Service Platform which includes the following modules:
Adtance Support – Enables live remote support, inspection, and maintenance for customers, utilizing devices such as smartglasses and multi-camera fieldstreaming.
Adtance Workflow – Digitizes, analyzes, and optimizes all workflows, including everyday processes, such as maintenance instructions.
Adtance Process Visualization and Monitoring (PVM) - Monitors the performance of individual machines, as well as entire industrial plants.
Adtance Predictive Maintenance (PM) - Analyzes and evaluates operational data in real time through the continuous monitoring of machines or the entire production plant using built-in sensors. Machine learning-based analysis offer predictions about potential downtime, as well as warnings if a piece of equipment will require maintenance.
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Adtance Ticketing - Standardizes entire customer service channels by bundling different channels into one system, including e-mail, telephone, SMS, and social media. Creates order and clarity by providing different escalation levels with the respective reaction and resolution times.
Adtance Document Management (DM) - Stores all customer service documents centrally, as well as controls the access rights for security and privacy purposes.
Adtance Parts – A central catalogue system to ensure that all spare part information remains centrally located and easily discoverable.
Manufacturers or machine builders can start with a single software module and build up to the full offering or integrate individual modules into an existing system, including competing systems.
What also makes Adtance different, Arnold said, is the ability to connect to any kind of camera—be it a security camera or a drone—and the platform’s ability to do language translation. Specifically, for companies that operate globally, communication barriers are overcome as Adtance Support now includes translation for 147 different languages. Users simply select a language, speak, then click a button and the system translates their speech into the selected language enabling companies to work with technical experts around the world.
The Adtance Smart Services Platform 4.0 with the integrated Support module and Fieldstreaming is immediately available in a software-as-a-service subscription setup.