Your robot deployment is underway, AMRs whizzing about the warehouse on a daily basis. But where do you go from here? What’s the continued role of the AMR manufacturer after their machines “leave the nest”?
Like parents, robot makers and their teams eventually shift into a supportive role, helping to propel success along the way. We look at why robots need continued service, as well as how Robot Operation Center or Remote Operation Center (ROC) support provides it throughout the product lifecycle.
Why Do Robots Need Service After Deployment?
The simple reason for continued service and support after any robot deployment is Y-O-U. Robotics companies prioritize customer service because we want happy customers, and quality service ensures that robots continue to perform at their peak. It’s essential to make even the smallest issue right again.
Example: You bought a new car, but it mostly sits in the driveway due to constant transmission problems. That make and model probably won’t be on your must-buy list later, right? That’s why product longevity is essential in the design phase.
Even the best products wear over time, so preventive maintenance is important. Preventive maintenance extends the time between product failures by planning maintenance activities to be more convenient for end users, rather than dealing with unplanned downtime. This starts with an assessment, and factors in both condition and item tracking to assess effective maintenance measures.
For robots, a successful preventive maintenance program factors in the lifecycle of each component to schedule repairs and replacements.
Example: Capacitors last eight years. Knowing this, plan to replace them in year seven to avoid downtime or costly quick-turnaround repairs.
Don’t forget to measure your proactivity by identifying how many maintenance items get addressed before their due dates. Additionally, log the condition of the equipment during the maintenance cycle, and adjust where necessary.
Example: Monthly cleaning items may be part of the maintenance regimen. If the equipment is always clean, try adjusting to every other month. If the opposite is true, increase your frequency.
Of course, preventive maintenance is just one piece of the robot support puzzle. Corrective maintenance ties into robot operations and longevity, and a ROC is the best resource for the job.
Why is the ROC Important?
Keeping robots operational and functioning at peak levels means being proactive. The ROC is a service desk—like tech support—that keeps robots operating smoothly and efficiently.
Example: Internet service. Your internet goes out, so you call the internet service provider. The service desk gathers intel on the issue and performs a series of checks to verify the user didn’t accidentally cause the issue. From there, they attempt remote diagnostics and take control to perform a repair. If remote support fails, a field service tech visits onsite within a span of days.
That same principle is what the ROC does for issues with robot functionality. Technicians assess the problem(s), checking for operator errors or something more serious that requires expert knowledge.
The ROC is an essential department for any automation partner because it monitors each robot right from the computer. ROC technicians see the “heartbeat of the robot”—where it is in the warehouse and what performance issues it may have—on screen in real time. They can then analyze the robot heartbeat data to see patterns in performance history.
With this information in hand, support specialists can identify specific problems and troubleshoot solutions, ranging from software enhancements to a remote reboot. If the underlying issue is hardware related, ROC specialists can create a support ticket and deploy an onsite technician.
Response Time and Quality of Service
Let’s say your robot(s) malfunction during peak season, and it’s not reasonable to wait weeks for an onsite tech. ROC support provides a faster response, meaning less downtime and lost productivity.
And there’s more than one way to provide that support, too. Of course, phone and email are easy for users. But generally speaking, the more hands-on, the better. When ROC specialists actively monitor robots, they see issues in real time and have opportunities to respond.
Example: Alerts are generated if battery output voltage dips below a set point, sending a notification.
A responsive ROC monitors robot health to proactively avoid and address issues, acting as a feedback mechanism to continuous improvement. By monitoring each robot, the ROC can trend performance. If the ROC flags repeat problems, that lets engineering know that future redesigns could fix something that could otherwise impact a whole fleet.
ROC + Ticketing
One element of support and monitoring that ensures continuous improvement is ticketing. Support tickets ensure monitoring between engineering and the field service team, tracking issues to completion. Later, ROC support can refer to ticket data to create knowledge base articles of how unique issues were resolved, making it easier to resolve similar problems later.
But here’s the caveat: issues have to be shared during the new product design phase to enhance robot serviceability. That’s because a robot designed without service techs in mind makes simple repairs take hours, rather than minutes.
Example: If a battery is accessible, a replacement could only take five minutes. If the battery is buried deep inside the robot, that’s hours of labor.
A solid ticketing system as part of your ROC ensures accountability and informs design improvements. Win-win.
The Cost of Not Having ROC Support
Close monitoring, fast response, and support tracking minimize costs. The happiest customers save on their robot deployments and service. And that includes both monetary and efficiency savings. Without a ROC as a first line of defense, robot maintenance quickly gets out of hand.
Monetary Costs Without ROC Support
Think back to that internet service example. When you call a service technician, that repair includes other fees like travel. The same is true when a robot service technician makes an onsite visit.
Without a comprehensive ROC to rely on, every visit includes travel, troubleshooting, parts, and repair. The fees might be bundled into an hourly or annual service maintenance contract, which is often the case for lengthy projects. Even if there’s an annual contract, the price can still increase for complex repairs.
Efficiency Costs Without ROC Support
ROC support also provides greater operational efficiency and flexibility. Suddenly, instead of an appointment-based, one-to-one system, robot repairs are easy.
With a ROC, there’s a remote triage process that benefits both sides. A single ROC technician easily supports 15 or more robots from your fleet without wasting precious time for an onsite visit. As a result, the repair cost is scaled down to the price of one robot and you get on your way faster. Because troubleshooting resolves your issue in minutes compared to hours, there’s virtually no downtime or lost revenue, maintaining efficiency and productivity.
Secure Your Robot Deployment with a ROC
Support is required for everything from internet service to an industrial robot deployment. Even the best robots have issues in the field, so you need a robust field service organization. And it’s only a top-notch organization if you have a remote operating center embedded throughout the process. Get in touch to learn how IAM Robotics supports your deployment for the entire lifecycle of your fleet.