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24/7 Technical Support

A customer with over 20 locations across the US required remote 24/7 technical support for their automation equipment.

Downtime of the automation needed to be minimized both to reduce costs and to ensure on-time product delivery.

man with headset sitting at a monitor providing online support to a facility

Challenge

The customer needed maximum uptime for their automation solution.

Approach

In conjunction with ATS Engineering personnel, ATS Project management put together a detailed plan to ensure immediate emergency response:    

  • A team of Controls System Programmers was put in place to provide 24/7 technical support specific to the customers equipment.
  • To ensure that a call never gets missed, two programmers are always on call at any given time. The customer’s machine operators, technicians and engineers can always connect to an ATS support person with expert knowledge of their equipment.
  • All calls are logged in detail and sent to the customer’s management and engineers immediately after the issue occurs. If there is an issue at 2:00 A.M. the customer’s automation team will have the report on the problem and its solution before they wake up.
  • The customers’ automation was put on a secure VPN allowing for remote connection to all PCs and automation controllers. This enabled quick troubleshooting of issues and drastically reduced the cost of any customer-requested coding changes. Only the support team (as approved by the customer) has access to the customers’ network. 

The Result

  • Most calls take less then 20 minutes
  • Over 2,000 calls have been fielded by ATS Service Support Personnel
  • 1000s of hours of equipment downtime have been prevented
  • Since the support began (over three years ago) a call has never been missed by the programmers on call
  • Since the ATS support personnel have expert knowledge of the automation equipment they are able to bypass none critical automation components when they fail. For example, if a sensor fails on a cylinder at 12:00 A.M, the controls logic can be modified to bypass the sensor. If a sensor is critical to the process the sensor can often be swapped with one from a non-critical location.
  • When setup issues occur, operators can be guided by ATS support personnel to make basic machine adjustments.
  • ATS Programmers have performed numerous customer requested code changes without traveling to the customer’s site. Because of thorough code testing and systematic code implementation no remote update has ever introduced a new issue to the customers’ automation. All changes are documented and approved by the customer before being released.
  • ATS support personnel stay with the issue. They will contact the customer’s engineers and component suppliers as required.
  • Should an issue require it, ATS Support personnel are ready to travel to the customer’s site at a moment’s notice. 
  • The combination of remote access, data collection and fault tracking allows for problems to be detected before they become major issues.