That's right. It's time to own up to the fact that the majority of us are using phones and tablets to do business everyday. We buy, sell, trade, learn, teach, and all manner of horrible and wonderful things that we have always done (no, not everyone does horrible things, but don't act like the things you do are always so wonderful either) all with the aid of portable devices that allow us to move freely about our lives without being tethered to a desk chair.
Why, then, is it so difficult for some people to recognize that our industrial process operators and technicians - who are so often stuck behind a stationary HMI or calling from the field to speak with someone who is - would be far better equipped to do their jobs if only they were afforded the same conveniences they afford themselves in their lives outside of work.
I know there are concerns about security - about opening some digital wormhole through which all sorts of nefarious activity could be invited. There are concerns about ill-intended deviants having potential access to sensitive process data - which is not only proprietary, but often essential to our infrastructure - as well there should be. But it's not like these potential problems didn't exist before mobile devices, and while some concerns are certainly valid, mobile devices provide a number of key benefits and opportunities that cannot be ignored:
- For Remote Management of Disparate Assets
This one seems pretty obvious, but imagine the amount of time that could be saved by not having to manually inspect field equipment or call back to the control station every time there is a simple question.
- For Constant Access to a Portable Media Viewer
How can you ensure that operators and techs always have access to the latest work masters, training videos, etc.? Upload or edit a document and make your changes instantly available to all relevant perties - regradless of where they are or what they're doing.
- For Instant access to Forms and Form Data
Create Purchase Orders or close Work Requests from anywhere. Assign new owners or upload a picture you just snapped and attach it to a Job. The possibilities are nearly unlimited.
Sure, there are only three benfits listed here, but without much thought I'm sure you could think of a few more. Let me know in the comments below.
And for some additional food for for thought, check out this white paper on "The Benefits of Mobile HMIs" and tell me I'm not absolutely right about this: