For many years, technology has played a major role in enabling people and teams to collaborate regardless if they sit in the same office, work from home, or in a different country. Now, technology innovation has taken this location liberation even further with a video-enabled cart – the Polycom RealPresence Utility Cart 500 – designed specifically to make collaboration easier from locations where it is most needed. This innovation allows users to easily bring High Definition room-based video and content sharing to a variety of locations outside of a conference room. What this type of mobile collaboration technology means for a manufacturing company in particular is a direct link to the production floor, for everything from quality inspections to immediate troubleshooting.
Here are a few scenarios that demonstrate how this enhanced communication capability can improve the manufacturing process:
1. Reduce downtime
- Remote repair Any manufacturing company knows all too well the repercussions of a machine breaking down or a faulty assembly line. Such issues are not only a major cost to any manufacturer but can cause disruption to the whole production process and supply chain. Often, if it is a complex problem, the technician or repair expert from the machine vendor may be hours or even days away. For service technicians in the production plant it is of utmost importance to quickly get in contact with one or several remote expert(s) who can assess the damage and identify the repairs and spare parts needed in order to keep the downtime to a minimum. A video-enabled utility cart in the factory on an occasion like this can be proven to be a very good investment. Being able to quickly move the utility cart to where the broken down machine is located will enable production staff to immediately connect and collaborate via video with the remote expert from the machine vendor for a diagnosis. The remote expert can share and annotate on schematics to indicate where the local technician shall survey and look for errors or broken parts.
In addition, the technician can connect an external camera that can examine the machine in areas difficult to reach.
How does a remote expert connect with the factory? They can have connect to a video conference via an open standardsconference room, desktop, mobile or tablet device. Additionally, the service technician team can just send a link to the expert for him or her to quickly join a conference directly from a browser with the click of a button.
- Preventive maintenance In similar fashion as above, the service technicians in the plant can use the utility cart to collaborate with the remote expert for periodic maintenance and checks to reduce the risk of downtime.
2. Corporate training
Training is another area where the availability of a moveable video-enabled cart brings great benefits to a manufacturing company. With this technology the corporate training department can easily transform any training room, conference room, or a product showroom into a virtual classroom bringing consultants, educators, experts, and students across the company into the class for an interactive learning experience. Attendees can join training sessions from video conferencing rooms, their work desk or from their laptops, tablets and smartphones if they are working from home or are on the go. With content sharing, recording and streaming capabilities, the corporate training department can save both time and cost, thus making efficient use of company resources, facilities budgets, travel time and travel cost – yet providing a highly interactive level of training that meets their objectives.
3. Shorten time-to-market
Geographically-dispersed Research and Development (R&D) teams that need to collaborate closely with a workshop or lab that is building their prototypes can be a time-consuming process. Imagine if the R&D team can visually experience and collaborate with the workshop and the engineer creating the prototype to discuss design changes, saving time and energy! A utility cart can easily be deployed in a workshop and moved around to best display the prototype or its parts. Remote R&D teams can be as much a part of a product’s design process, as its development creating more collaboration and joint efforts for success in an organisation.
These are just a few examples of how video conferencing and collaboration have moved far beyond the conference room in the manufacturing industry, and can today play a vital role in improving business processes from the shop floor up.