Remotely Troubling

New services for power distribution, augmented reality from Schneider

A new service from a global industrial-electric powerhouse may be exciting technology, but it also sheds light on where the industry could be headed in terms of demand for field technicians.

Schneider Electric has launched Remote Expertiseä, a new package of services for electrical and power distribution systems, leveraging innovative technologies, including augmented reality, the industrial-tech conglomerate announced in a press release Wednesday. “Remote Expertise” can provide virtual technical and domain expertise support to customers, without the need for a field service representative to be onsite—a potential hindrance for technicians who make their living in the field.

Designed with critical infrastructure facilities, such as healthcare, data centers and industrial facilities in mind, the new service avoids the risk of electrical equipment failure in critical power distribution systems, Schneider claims.

There’s no doubt this variety of technology is incredibly useful, as it’s been increasingly researched and utilized by a number of large companies, such as Siemens, ABB, and General Electric. It does, however, raise the question of whether technicians will be needed at all in the near future.

SE’s answer to this? The French company says this doesn’t necessarily mean technicians will be less essential, but rather safer by being incorporated off-site. The remote technology will enable “continuity of business”, it claims, meaning maintenance and facility personnel receive real-time support, sometimes in less than an hour. Technicians can diagnose issues virtually and give personnel screen annotations, screenshots and other notes in-app to aid understanding.

It also frames this as a safer option in the age of coronavirus, if not directly: “Remote capabilities provide access to field service representatives when being onsite is not a possibility due to health concerns, travel time or other restrictions,” the press release stated.

Remote Expertise leverages augmented reality software, delivered via a secure and platform-agnostic mobile application, to give customers access to experienced field technicians virtually. These technicians can then perform distribution system assessments and audits, deliver safety and compliance recommendations, report on at risk or aging equipment, as well as provide basic corrective measures, in real-time.

“Electrical distribution is the electricity backbone of any facility. As business continuity becomes paramount, organizations now need real-time and on-demand access to the digital tools and services that protect their equipment health and keep their operations running smoothly and at full capacity,” said Jerome Soltani, Senior Vice President, US Services, Schneider Electric. “As telehealth has done for medicine, we’re doing for power distribution – giving customers preliminary evaluations of their systems that can solve many everyday issues quickly and easily and provide faster time-to-resolution for more complex challenges. We believe augmented reality is a key part of the future of digital services.”

The remote collaboration solution reportedly works on most mobile operating systems and platforms and enables quick and efficient troubleshooting of common challenges.

One Response to “Remotely Troubling”

  1. This is a long term trend, one driven less by customer need but instead by corporate greed. Selling whole replacement units at $1,000 when a perhaps just a fuse needs to be replaced. It also skips the obvious where a inept repairer of a power system fails to reconnect a ground and blows up a series of boards. Just fine for the company that sells you boards at a big price.

    One other angle is that any business smaller than a giant corporation has no leverage on price or even on getting the job done right.

    The COVID benefit is so much baloney. A repairer of electrical or electronic equipment is seldom near anyone for long, nor in a confined indoor space with lots of people.

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