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Virtual Support Engineer
1/22/2013

Using Virtual Support Engineer, OEMs access their assets in a highly secure environment exclusively using IT-approved outbound communication.   (Source: Rockwell Automation)
Using Virtual Support Engineer, OEMs access their assets in a highly secure environment exclusively using IT-approved outbound communication.
(Source: Rockwell Automation)

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apresher
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Virtual Support Engineer
apresher   1/23/2013 4:25:02 PM
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mikellim, Thanks for weighing in on this topic.  Great points about being able to make changes as a key to avoiding visiting the machine location.  Also agree with your comment about security.

apresher
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Virtual Support Engineer
apresher   1/23/2013 4:27:30 PM
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Chuck,  Many systems do use bi-directional remote communications to update system files, etc. from afar. With all of the concerns about security, some companies just won't allow that type of access.

apresher
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Virtual Support Engineer
apresher   1/23/2013 4:30:56 PM
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GLOlover, I know that some OEM machinery builders have implemented systems that also use a video link, so that plant personnel can walk around the machine and provide the remote support personnel with live video as well. No question that is a powerful advantage, although I don't know how many companies are using that approach.

Charles Murray
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Re: Virtual Support Engineer
Charles Murray   1/23/2013 8:09:10 PM
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Sorry to belabor this, Al, but I'm still curious. Isn't bi-directional communication a necessity for offering support?

apresher
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Virtual Support Engineer
apresher   1/24/2013 5:46:53 PM
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Chuck, I would guess the plan is to diagnose problems from afar, but implement solutions using local plant personnel.  In many automation systems, application software issues for example can be difficult to debug until the machine is in production. A skilled engineer can see the problem, fix the code and then email it to someone at the plant to make the update.  Just one possible scenario.

Charles Murray
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Re: Virtual Support Engineer
Charles Murray   1/24/2013 6:55:44 PM
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That makes sense, Al. It's much simpler that fixing the problems caused by software viruses and worms.

Scott Orlosky
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Re: sometimes you have to be there
Scott Orlosky   1/27/2013 2:59:44 PM
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The digital age has definitely helped with troubleshooting industrial products.  Emails often have scope traces, digital photos and test data attached that just would not have been possible a generation ago.  This seems like a natural extension of communication capability if and when the security concerns can be addressed.  Customers also have to be willing to pay more for equipment that has the built-in diagnostic and interconnect functionality.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Virtual Support Engineer
Ann R. Thryft   1/28/2013 12:15:17 PM
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Looks like a similar, even parallel, trend to remote robotic maintenance & repair, as DN has covered more than once: http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1386&doc_id=257502 http://www.designnews.com/document.asp?doc_id=253921 http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1386&doc_id=247655

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