In the last episode, the spotlight was on the vendor side of providing virtual guidance for maintenance and break/fix events for your inkjet press. In talking with printers in North America, Europe, and the Asia Pacific regions, it seems that this fantastic option isn’t very well understood or vocalized by their vendors. The upshot is that just about every vendor has or is working on solutions that make it easy to interact confidently with their technicians using virtual and remote solutions. They are only half of the equation.
A case in point is a printer in the American Midwest who said that they had no idea their vendor offered any type of remote reporting and guidance for repair. Another in Europe noted that a virtual approach to guided maintenance and break/fix would be a significant benefit to them, and now that they know it’s possible, they will make it part of their requirements for their next press investment. On this last comment, they were unaware that the option was already available to them.
It is clear that vendors can do better to ensure that their customers are aware of all engagement options, especially when it comes to ensuring that the press achieves maximum uptime. These are significant investments, and they need to be running. Owners of the presses and their teams also need to be proactive in engaging with their OEM vendors.
What is the Wizard Saying?
Let’s start with what technology is appropriate for your environment.
Some companies are (with all respect) nerds. They thrive in the bits, bytes, and bandwidth of technology and use it to its fullest extent. If this describes your team, talk to your OEM vendors about virtual and remote guidance options for the entire range of maintenance and even the break/fix requirements you encounter. While a good smartphone with a solid camera and connection will suffice to interact with a technician who can look at what you are seeing and help plan a path, VR headsets linked to applications that allow the VR guide to point into the machine and guide more closely are amazing options.
For most regular maintenance activities and fundamental issues that might arise, a smartphone is appropriate for this technology, even if true nerds want that VR headset! For companies that are less avid to jump into an Oculus headset to work with a technician, the resolution and sound quality on today’s smartphones let you show a technician the registration problems on a print job or zero in on the location of a noise coming from inside the press. However, there are limitations. True color management questions might take more than an online session.
The value of the wizard in your ear is that it can help with simple things like confidence-building during maintenance operations. It can also bring comfort when there are more complex conversations like those that happen when something stops working. That remote conversation can help you determine if you have a minor itch or a major ouch and plan accordingly. That’s harder to do with an email problem report or audio call into a central support hub.
What Should You Do?
Listen to the wizards. Talk to your OEM vendors about your options for remote or virtual guidance for break/fix, maintenance help, and even guidance with your workflow interactions with your Digital Front end. Advances in IoT, Machine Learning, and smart systems are happening in every OEM R&D department. While we wait for self-configuring presses and other automation, take advantage of what is available from most vendors today.