This article first appeared in the Spring 2017 issue of The Record.
When an engineer is called to fix equipment out in the field, he or she needs to know what specific equipment they will be working on and what servicing or maintenance work has previously been carried out on that equipment. Upon arrival, they must run diagnostics on the equipment to identify the issue before they can fix it. This is easy for manufacturing companies that have implemented so-called assistive technology, as well as mobile apps and enterprise communication and collaboration tools.
“If a field engineer can’t solve the issue on the spot, they can use assistive technology to reach out to colleagues and instantly get remote help,” says Jacques Spee, industry advisor for Manufacturing Industry Solutions at HPE Enterprise Services (HPE ES). “Similarly, assistive technology could help an assembly worker in a factory to customise a standard product by indicating which components need to be added for a particular customer. This would help the worker to do the right thing and enable the company to offer more product variance while still operating efficiently.”
Thanks to its ability to help employees work more smartly and make operational processes more efficient, assistive technology is playing a key role in the modern enterprise.
“The modern enterprise is all about providing employees with the specific tools, business apps and data they need to do their role,” says Keith Hudgell, senior director for EMEA Mobility and Workplace Practice at HPE ES. “Most manufacturing employees no longer sit at desks so our clients want to deploy mobile solutions for their factories, production plants and out in the field.”
HPE ES is using Microsoft’s cloud-based enterprise collaboration and productivity tools, and its Windows 10 operating system, to develop and deliver the services and apps manufacturers need to become mobile.
“Windows 10 runs as single operating system, which allows us to port new apps onto the platform for our clients and deliver them to the right device for the employee based on the job they are doing at the time,” says Hudgell. “For example, we can give employees access to Microsoft Skype for Business on their tablet or smartphone so they can communicate when walking around the plant. We’re also working with a major Asian car manufacturer to develop mobile apps so its salesforce can instantly access sales and client data when meeting clients. Mobility is a growing trend that we’re seeing accelerate month by month in Europe, and also in manufacturing and automotive sectors across the world.”