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8 innovations in electronic T&M equipment

11 Sep 2015  | Brian Santo

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Versiv line

There are multiple benefits to including wired and/or wireless connections in testers. The Versiv line from Fluke includes some of the many examples from a wide variety of T&M companies. (Source: Fluke)

T&M moves to the cloud

Yes, even T&M.

It's standard operating procedure in the electronics industry to jump on buzzword-bandwagons, but there is some conceptual justification for T&M companies' claims that they are leveraging the cloud.

The first connected testers predate the use of the word "cloud," and even today you could quibble about whether a "private cloud" is even really part of The Cloud, but still.

The people who do maintenance, repair and test are frequently only technicians. As highly skilled and well-trained as technicians can sometimes be, often enough problems crop up that require the attention of more extensively trained engineers.

So most T&M equipment that is designed to be used in the field is now connected. As the tech runs through the test routines, the tester uploads diagnostic data to a central server controlled by the service provider.

If an error pops up that is beyond a tech's ability to take care of, someone with greater expertise can be alerted immediately to diagnose and solve the problem while the tech is still on-site. This is no small thing. Communications service companies are intent on getting things right the first time (whether it's during installation or a repair) not only for the sake of good customer service but also because every subsequent truck roll to the same customer is costly and an increasingly unjustifiable expense.

Real-time data analysis can come into play (did someone just mention "big data"?). Each tech might see only one or two instances of a problem, and not think much of it. But an analysis of aggregate data might reveal a problem that any individual tech might think isolated but proves to be endemic.

And once testers are connected they can double as communications terminals. This is not an insignificant side benefit. Scheduling can become far more flexible when dispatchers have real-time information on job progress. If one tech is being held up with an intractable problem while a nearby tech finishes early, the second tech can be reassigned to handle the next job on the first tech's schedule. If one tech is lacking a needed part, another tech with the required piece might be near enough to drop it off.


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