In the Palm of Your Hand

News   •   Aug 10, 2015 07:14 GMT

When Alfred Knoll, a technician at a leading aromatics producer, begins his inspection round, he knows exactly what to do. As soon as he logs in, his mobile computer clearly lists all maintenance tours of his shift.

A vital guide

To find out whether he is at the right station on his tour, Knoll scans the respective barcode on the unit. All of the components and parameters to be checked, such as inlet and outlet pressure, immediately appear on the portable radio terminal’s easily readable display. To avoid operating errors, the software installed on the mobile computer always skips to the correct point on the questions list. The questions themselves are formulated to be as close-ended as possible. The answer is selected from a list, with the most common at the top. This saves time and allows for a quick assessment. Trained staff are able to recognize the correct answer immediately from the list and know whether there is an urgent need for action, or whether a superior or plant manager should be informed.

Modern mobile technology
The technician is working with the latest generation of BARTEC’s explosion-proof mobile computers, which is not only ergonomic, but also highly rugged and fast. The type MC 92N0ex devices were developed in close cooperation with Motorola for use in hazardous areas around the world. Combined with suitable planning and management software, it can conduct strategic maintenance in order to reduce unplanned downtimes and increase availability. The quality of the touchscreen was a major factor in the decision to purchase the latest device series from the explosion protection specialists from Bad Mergentheim in southern Germany. The high-contrast panel reacts quickly and precisely to even light pressure. Ruggedness was another decisive aspect in the purchase decision. The devices can survive being dropped from 1.2 meters without damage.

Fast data transfer
The MC 92N0ex devices are some of the fastest mobile computers in the explosion protection sector. This applies both to switching the devices on and to data synchronization. A few seconds spared for each process adds up to a great deal of time over a whole day. The devices meet the latest WiFi standards (IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n) and can therefore transfer all recorded data wirelessly in a split second, even during a tour. These data can then be assessed graphically or exported in applications like Excel and processed further. The BARTEC mobile computers’ integrated voice/audio function is another interesting feature. Technicians and process managers can contact each other via voice over IP at any location.

Long-term effects
Using their mobile computers, Alfred Knoll and his colleagues regularly conduct maintenance tours in their chemicals company. Since they started checking the temperature sensors in the facilities, for example, the key indicators for process safety and product quality have risen dramatically. “With strategic maintenance, users can not only reduce failures, but also improve processes and lower costs”, explains Benedikt Eckert, Product Manager for Mobile Computing at BARTEC. “Together with the right software, users can assess the consumption of auxiliary materials, wear parts and equipment, for example. This means they can improve their warehousing or judge the quality of similar parts from different manufacturers over longer periods of time.”

A worthwhile investment
A quick return on investment from the strategic maintenance solution is also not a concern for the aromatics producer. “One prevented downtime is usually enough to repay the investment”, explains Eckert. “For the whole software and hardware package, amortization normally takes no longer than six to nine months.”