Machine installation from remote: key success factors from Norden Machinery
When installing and commissioning a 100-tube-a-minute tube filling machine at a pharmaceutical manufacturing plant in Turkey, the activities from Norden were carried out entirely remotely. The responsible project manager and field Engineer Customer Service share the story and key success factors.
A first of its kind for Norden
When tough COVID-19 travel restrictions were imposed in Turkey in May this year, Norden Machinery AB, faced a difficult decision: a major pharmaceutical client needed to install a new tube filling machine at its manufacturing facility outside Istanbul. With its installation engineers unable to travel there, Norden had to decide whether to attempt an entirely remote installation, the first in its history, or to delay it until a technician could go to site.
“It was a big decision and we couldn’t guarantee success” says the field engineer.
“The risk analysis we carried out assessed three danger factors– one, that we’d fail, two, that the machine could be damaged, and third and most importantly the risk of injury. What finally made us decide ‘yes’ was that we had an experienced team onsite who had already worked with earlier versions of our machines. If the customer had been starting from scratch it would have been very difficult. Plus, we had a well-equipped installation environment, the customer gave us full access to their security cameras. So, together we decided to go for it.”
Despite the planning however, the first two days were challenging. The initial remote setup used the site’s onsite cameras plus WhatsApp.
“We had constant problems with lagging and connection” says Norden field engineer, “there was a 20-second delay which was extremely frustrating on both sides. I decided ‘OK this isn’t working’ and we switched to XMReality Remote Guidance, the collaboration platform used in Customer Service. We noticed the instant connection and advantages immediately.”
Collaboration made easy through digital tools
Successful remote collaboration is a careful balancing act between trust and support, instruction and independence. The more the support desk knows about the skills level of the remote team the better they can delegate tasks without having to micromanage every component. To better facilitate planning and interaction Norden gave the client access to the remote assistance tools by sharing the license.
“This meant the customer could call any time without me having to send them links” says the field engineer.
He broke the project up into clear, achievable stages – with live Q&A sessions in between. “In the afternoon the team would work by themselves on tasks we had trained around, and then every morning at 09:00 we had a real-time interactive Q&A to catch up”.
The pointer feature, allowing the user to highlight specific areas, and the drawing feature, pausing the screen and drawing instructions, were particularly appreciated. For Norden’s field engineer they were essential, indispensable tools. “It turned out we didn’t end up using so many of the advanced features,” he says “you can achieve a lot with pointing and drawing. It shows how for us remote assistance isn’t something futuristic or next-generation anymore - it’s a tool in our toolbox. It’s like a 10-mm spanner – we take it out when we need it.”
A successful installation
No follow-up service issues or problems were reported following a successful installation. The project was completed on schedule in two weeks.
Has the project demonstrated some broader strategic benefits of remote assistance and remote installations to Norden? Will the company now use Remote Guidance for other installation jobs? “I think we will yes,” says the engineer.
“Even two years ago we thought of Remote Guidance as a tool primarily for troubleshooting, but it’s become something more than that. Remote installation still depends a lot on the complexity of the machine. A whole line, with two or more machines positioned together, would be complex to master remotely. But installing single machines like this one is perfectly possible remotely. This proves it can be done.”
A checklist for remote installation
As Norden plans to boost its remote services for the future, here are five key success factors our service team feels like sharing on remote installation – from installation environment to internet connection.
Here is their checklist:
- Evaluate the skill level of your remote team
Make sure to do it before the project starts. “When I first met the team, I tried to build a picture for myself of what their technical level was, whether they had handled our machinery before, their language skills and so on—it was vital in deciding whether to go ahead or not.” says the engineer.
- Explore the installation environment
What real-time security or digital channels are in place that could be used in the installation? Is the site secure, focused and conducive to challenging work?
- Your wi-fi is your lifeline — check it first
When it comes to safety and quality the tiniest lag during an installation can cause problems. “Check the Wi-Fi first with a live test to see how robust the signal is, if you notice lagging that gives the IT guys the chance to see if they can boost it before the project” according to the Norden engineer.
- Trust your technicians & take it step-by-step
Give your team space but always be on call. Just because it is a remote project does not mean you have to be interacting remotely 24/7. Break the project up into clear, achievable steps with scheduled Q&A sessions in between.
- Give your customer access to your Remote Assistance solution
Successful remote collaboration is a careful balancing act between trust and support. Norden is using XMReality Remote Guidance. By sharing a license and login to your customer they may contact you any time without you having to send them a link.
Norden customer service can assist you with remote installations or remote trouble shooting. For more information send us an email: