FIXING EQUIPMENT FROM AFAR

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Today’s lab equipment allows for mechanical issues to be diagnosed and remedied over the Internet. Welcome to remote maintenance.


If you have ever seen a conductor’s copy of a symphony, it looks like a mass of confusion. Yet, when all of the various instruments play their parts, everything
comes together in perfect harmony. But what happens if the oboist or timpani player decides to play a different tune? A horrible mass of sounds ensues, and what should be a beautiful concert quickly turns into noise. Such is the case with modern, computerized lab equipment. All of the parts need to work in perfectly timed sequences to produce the amazing results that they’re capable of. This is called computer numerical control, or CNC.


REMOTE CONTROL

When things go awry, how do you know which part is not performing its proper function? Today, the answer to this question may be deter-
mined with remote maintenance. This means that a technician thousands of miles away can remotely connect to your new edger, tracer, blocker, and/or generator to run diagnostics, make any necessary adjustments to the software, and walk you through the proper adjustment, tune-up, or part replacement. The concept behind remote maintenance is very similar to the equipment used to diagnose a modern automobile: When a particular code pops up during a maintenance assessment, it provides clues as to which system is not functioning properly. Replace the part or make the adjustment, and you are back in business in no time.

Depending on the brand and level of automation of your particular lab machine, the remote diagnostics can be as simple as plugging into a high-speed Internet access port. The diagnostic software may be built into your machine, running with “plug and play” simplicity, while some of the diagnostic magic may come from other software tools located at the manufacturer’s technical assistance lab.


REPAIR FROM THERE

With Optek International’s lab equipment, such as the Optek Contour MAX lens generator and the Optek Unity MAX lens surface/finish blocker, you’ll access a secured high-speed Internet connection using the machines’ built-in Ethernet ports. If a particular lab’s logistics require a Wi-Fi setup, Optek’s machines also have USB ports that can accommodate a USB Wi-Fi adapter. The equipment’s remote support features provide technicians access to every aspect of the machines’ software and operating systems. Optek’s remote technicians can see everything that the local user sees on her screen, and can even operate the machine’s controls as if they were there in person. A diagnostic report can also be generated on demand by the local operator, should any questions or concerns arise.


TECH SUPPORT

Satisloh North America, Inc.’s lab products, such as the ES-curve and ES-5 edgers, also use Ethernet ports to connect to the Internet. Once a user grants access to his machine, Satisloh’s techs can then review error logs, diagnose issues, upload software, and even view the machine’s operations via a video connection. Some operation of the machine can be controlled remotely. However, if a mechanical adjustment is required, it must be performed by onsite personnel.


ONLINE UPKEEP

Briot USA’s equipment also has built-in diagnostics. In the company’s higher-end units, such as the Attitude edging system or products in the Alta line, both diagnostics and software updates are provided through an online connection called the Briot Link. If a piece of equipment has an issue, an error prompt appears on its display. If the user cannot resolve the issue, she calls Briot’s tech team, who can walk her through the solution. Because of this feature, it’s very rare that a technician needs to be sent onsite to fix anything. This saves ECPs a lot of time and money, since onsite service is very expensive and causes major delays and downtime.

Most new automated laboratory equipment is so reliable that you may never have to use the remote maintenance capabilities that are built into them. Even so, it brings tremendous peace of mind knowing that it is there for you if you ever need it. Surely, the sound of that is music to any ECP’s ears.


Michael Frandsen is the owner of Quality Performance Ophthalmic, Inc., a custom service optical laboratory in South Jordan, UT.

 

WHERE TO FIND IT:

Briot USA 800-292-7468 • briot.com/usa

Optek International 727-522-2301 • optekinternational.com

Satisloh North America, Inc. 800-866-5640 • satisloh.com

 

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