Advantages of Remote Troubleshooting

Read how remote diagnostics can allow a technician to troubleshoot a machine's issues or refine part programs from anywhere.

Columns From: 2/10/2011 Production Machining, ,

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Chris Felix

A friend of mine recently purchased a new computer and had some immediate issues with one of the applications that came standard on that PC. He called the manufacturer’s helpdesk to request assistance and, with a couple of very simple steps, was able to open his computer up to the person on the other end of the line. My friend was shocked that with the use of diagnostics and remote access software (and an internet connection), the helpdesk employee, in this case on the other side of the world, was able to see and control everything that was on the screen of my friend’s PC and locate and resolve the issue in minutes, requiring no further assistance from him.

While allowing a stranger access to one’s computer might make a person uncomfortable, if handled responsibly with a reputable company, it makes troubleshooting far less painful and tedious. And access is initiated and terminated by the computer owner, so once the problem is resolved, privacy can be restored.

This method of remote diagnostics is not new. In 1999, Modern Machine Shop published an article titled “Long-Distance CNC Service” that takes a look at a software product that allows a service technician to examine virtually any aspect of a control’s functionality as well as many aspects of the machine tool, regardless of where the machine is physically located. This story ran at a time when PC-based machine controls were only starting to gain popularity, and remote connectivity was achieved pretty much exclusively through phone lines. But the principles remain the same today, and the advantages are now greatly amplified.

Now, Okuma America Corporation equips all of its THINC-OSP controlled machines with its Constant Care remote troubleshooting and monitoring software as a standard feature. This software allows the machine, with the push of a button, to connect via the Internet to an Okuma service professional. The service engineer can diagnose and troubleshoot problems or issues with the machine, decreasing service times by providing accurate and real-time information.

Of course, this remote connectivity allows some issues to be diagnosed and fixed without the need for an on-site service call. If, however, the diagnosis determines that an on-site service call is required, intelligent dispatch ensures that the service engineer arrives with advance knowledge of the problem, its solution and the necessary parts in-hand.

Machines can be connected on an “as-needed” basis or in “always-on” mode, depending on how the manufacturer chooses to operate. When connected in “always-on” mode, machines can be monitored to provide proactive alerts and regular status alerts, improving information gathering and sharing and decision making.

A video demonstration of the Constant Care service can be viewed on the Okuma website.

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