Mineral processing facilities are usually located in remote regions. Reaching these facilities takes days in some cases. In the past, if a problem arose on site and a visit was required to assist solving the problem, the plant had to wait with the issue unresolved until help got to site. This also meant that the PLA techs supporting the sites spent a lot of time away from home. But this changed eight years ago when we started arming our SmartDivers with a remote diagnostic capability using TeamViewer. This diagnostics tool allows us to support and collaborate with our customers remotely.
Simply, the customer connects their smartphone to the diver using a Wi-Fi hot spot or plugs in a USB mobile dongle into the diver HMI. Immediately PLA can see the diver on line. We can then operate the diver fully as if we were in front of it. We set up a text based “chat” with the operator at the diver, and PLA can take over safely and securely. Securely, in that when the operator leaves, the connection is disconnected.
Just this week, we had an issue with a diver at a plant in Louisiana, USA. We tried sorting it out over the phone and email to no avail. In the “old days” this would have meant we would had to fly to site and leave the customer with the issue unresolved until we got there. Thanks to the diver’s remote diagnostics feature, the site personnel plugged in a USB dongle and PLA went to work immediately. We found that a setting had been changed and the sensor was not working. We were able to then instruct the operator to make the setting change and viola, we were back in operation. This also meant that I, the PLA tech on call, was home for the weekend with my wife, where I should be. It’s a life changing piece of technology from that perspective.
Remote access capabilities are not new but they are not used as frequently as they should be. We now use this technology to allow customers to commission divers on their own with a PLA tech watching over them and providing advice remotely. We can also monitor and provide advice on divers that are operating perfectly well but the customer needs some comment about the performance of the tank. We can see the trends and watch as the customer makes changes to their underflow and flocculant regime and tune in the settings on the run. Figure 1 shows a flocculant step test trial that was monitored and commented on remotely by PLA over the remote link.
As I say, life changing. All from the comfort of our desk or home and connected to our customer when they most needed.
For more information contact our technical team at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on +61 3 9786 1711