VIP Services is a mobile app and maintenance tool designed to improve efficiency and increase productivity.
By Michelle Segrest, Contributing Editor
Four years ago, a longtime customer of Wunderlich-Malec (Minnetonka, MN) approached the engineering service provider about the possibility of a paperless solution for its maintenance operations.
“Our customer was faced with their labor force retiring and a high rate of attrition occurring at multiple sites,” said business unit manager Joel Gil. “The client wanted to have a means of digitizing their systems so that new employees could have information instantly and be able to support their maintenance needs.”
This customer’s concern is common across countless industrial markets. Because of global pressures, many industrial sectors were forced to downsize their engineering and maintenance workforce 15 years ago. Now this senior workforce is retiring. The tribal knowledge is escaping without a means of documenting or passing down.
Stop brain loss
VIP (Virtual Information Portal) Services is the gap-stop measure for what Gil calls “brain loss” in the industrial marketplace. The traditional way to look up information was using printed documentation or drawings. Today, advancements in electronic technology provide more accurate and relevant information.
The product is a configurable, user-friendly mobile app designed to deliver relevant data, documentation, and up-to-date information, all in the palm of one’s hand.
The automated-scanning process provides wireless connectivity to relevant, critical documentation to communicate information from the plant floor. VIP’s POI (point of interest) feature delivers relevant information to the location where it is critically needed to perform a task.
VIP Services addresses two major needs of most manufacturing and industrial facilities:
- Reduce unscheduled downtime—Time is lost when technicians leave the work area to find resources, such as schematics, procedures, or other data needed to complete a task. VIP Services links all of the equipment to all of its relevant data and information resources. It provides specific and accurate information for the technician at the site of the equipment, which is where needed information is the most critical.
- Improve decision-making communication—Communication about production downtime issues and their resolution using traditional channels (email or phone) is often unclear or delayed until the appropriate person can physically be onsite and ‘see’ the issue for themselves. VIP Services shows the problem, complete with all relevant process data and resources, to the subject-matter expert who can support the local technician with better communications for quick problem resolution.
How it works
VIP POI can turn any manufacturing floor into a data-rich environment. Each POI is read by a preconfigured tablet that displays relevant product or application information. Some of the features of the VIP Services product include:
- VIP on Demand—This technology displays POIs as pdfs, drawings, manuals, URL links to web pages, and videos.
- VIP Real Time—This feature displays live process data relating to the POI from the PLC or SCADA systems on the plant floor. The data points can be displayed numerically, as well as presented in trend, pie chart, or bar graphs. Operators experience greater efficiency because they have immediate access to information.
- VIP Zip—This feature captures real-time snapshots or videos of a problem and transmits them by email. The pictures can be annotated to highlight relevant issues. Productivity is increased because decisions are based on more accurate and relevant information. Remote experts can review the video or annotated photos for troubleshooting support.
Gil cited a few examples of how VIP Services has helped companies improve productivity through this streamlined maintenance tool. “Most important, VIP Services saves time,” Gil said. “Having relevant information instantly in the palm of your hand gives the maintenance team the ability to get a system back on line without having to leave the site to collect the needed drawings for the problem.”
VIP Services can also contribute to cost savings. According to Gil, “With the help of VIP Zip, the maintenance team is able to document a current downtime issue. They are able to create a video, provide audio, apply annotation, and zip the file into an MP4 file. This file can then be emailed to a remote technician who can assist in the correction with greater success. Using VIP Services results in production resuming sooner, because the decisions being made are more accurate.”
Among the many maintenance benefits, this tool offers quick value, low risk, low cost of entry, fast troubleshooting and repair, simplicity, low repair cost, and improved efficiency and productivity, Gil said. “VIP Services does not mandate that you rearrange data or existing information,” he said. “It only points at data within your existing islands of information.”
Those with less-intense/complicated applications or who simply want to test the waters can use VIP Lite, a quick-start version of the complete package that allows configuration of 25 POIs. VIP Lite includes VIP Zip snap capability using your own tablet. The system uses the current investment of maintenance tools and database systems and becomes the portal to this information.
Using VIP Real Time, a user can see what they need to get the job completed faster. There is no need for the technician to leave the work site. “Bottom line, this tool offers faster troubleshooting and repair, which saves time and money,” Gil said.
The VIP Services tool is simple to use because it uses common technology. No special skills or training are required. “The tool is very intuitive and can be used after a very short five-minute walk-through tutorial,” Gil said. “VIP Services is a tool that uses powerful technology that gives you info where and when you need it.”
VIP Zip eliminates the need to send experts to the job site. This tool offers superior communication capabilities when explaining issues on the factory floor. For more information, visit wmvipservices.com. MT
Michelle Segrest has been a professional journalist for 25 years. She is co-owner of Business Discovery Services Group in Birmingham, AL, and spearheads the company’s Marketing Services division. She has worked as a journalist in the industrial processing industries for eight years.