Robot Field Service Engineers from Space

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Well, not really.

COVID-19 pandemic related travel restrictions have made it much more difficult to perform field service maintenance on scientific equipment such as XPS X-ray photoelectron spectrometers.

RBD Instruments currently offers technical support, where an RBD engineer works over the phone and internet with on-site technicians to troubleshoot and repair problems with older PHI surface analysis instrumentation. But technical support can be a slow and tedious process because the customer’s on-site technician needs to describe the system components and performance as part of the trouble-shooting process.

RBD also normally offers on-site field service repair services, where an RBD engineer travels to the customer’s site. But with the COVID-19 travel restrictions, all field service is currently on hold.

The next best thing to actually having an RBD engineer on-site would be to have a remote-controlled camera so that the RBD engineer can see the instrument in real time. Consider this to be enhanced technical support or virtual field service.

Remote controlled virtual robots are very cool (think Big Bang Theory Sheldon’s virtual presence episode) and would allow the RBD engineer to be in the lab virtually.  But the telepresence robots are expensive and also might not be able to move around safely in a lab environment.

A much less expensive option would be a remote-controlled wireless camera with speakers. For only $50.00, this option would still give the RBD engineer more control over the camera than what is possible with cell phones and Skype. When the RBD engineer can see the equipment in real time more easily, the better the technical support result will be.

Until COVID-19 travel restrictions are eased, virtual field service is one possibility for repairing and maintaining scientific instruments such as XPS surface analysis systems and components. And going forward once COVID-19 is no longer an issue (hopefully in the not too distant future), virtual field service may become more common just for the cost savings compared to traditional field service.

Contact RBD Instruments for more information.

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