Advancements in Virtual Support Deliver a Compelling Option for Facilities During and Beyond the Pandemic
Real-time remote collaborations with SMEs enable effective hardware and software installations.
- By Chris Kourliouros
- Mar 03, 2021
The impact of COVID-19 on manufacturing facilities has been significant. While offices across America have largely pivoted to online platforms for web-based collaborations between colleagues, the industrial sector has also had to contend with how to safely startup and commission process control systems in their facilities which have traditionally required timely on-site interventions and communications with product experts.
Commissioning a process control system requires extensive collaborations between an on-site field team and their vendors whose engineering support teams have been largely working remotely. The challenge for vendors has been how to continue to support their customers with effective training and mentoring. According to ARC industry reports, human error is the primary cause of 42% of abnormal events and a secondary contributing cause in over 65% of the cases, so there can be no training or support shortcuts.
Advances in both hardware and software tools enable remote mentoring to be possible where expert knowledge can be delivered to reduce risks and ensure effective startups. This now includes intelligent wearable devices that enable remote experts to see what a field technician sees when working on hardware in a facility. With such advancements, it is now possible for a single remote expert to assist multiple people and facilities at the same time without travel.
Accelerated by the working constraints caused by the pandemic, the adoption of these technologies is now suggesting a bigger role for remote-based training and support of manufacturing and process control system needs after the pandemic is over.
One company that has embraced the capabilities of remote support even before the pandemic is Quakertown, Pennsylvania-based NovaTech Automation - a leading provider of procedural automation solutions for the past 30 years whose patented software is used in high-risk government applications.
Long before COVID-19, such providers of procedural automation solutions were applying advances in web technologies that would enable delivering cost and mission effective remote support services. Today such vendors are doing it at a different level - whether to troubleshoot issues, support a remote startup or collaborate on a commissioning.