There are situations in which an intervention becomes exceptionally difficult due to circumstances that are out of our control.
However, if we modify our procedures in a creative, flexible, and customized manner, we can effectively handle any kind of unexpected event. Our experience, technology, and ability to tailor our actions to fit customers’ needs ensure we continue to provide service that exceeds expectations.
The COVID-19 pandemic, with its profound repercussions on health, production, and social systems worldwide, shows just how external circumstances can provide us with an opportunity to adapt that can yield benefits beyond the expected. In March 2020, during the lock-down period in Italy that severely restricted ability to move around, one of our Indian customers reported a serious problem at one of its plants. The safety system of one of the machines inspecting pharmaceutical products had triggered a primary alarm that blocked automation. An initial analysis of the situation led Bonfiglioli Engineering technicians to conclude that a mechanical problem had most likely caused a calibration error, preventing the machine from correctly determining which products were compliant with standards and which products were rejected, so it shut down.
Under normal circumstances, a problem like this is assigned the highest level of urgency and Bonfiglioli Engineering dispatches specialized technical personnel to the site. A precise intervention is necessary to solve such a malfunction, because the machine must be physically disassembled and then re-calibrated through a series of operations that can be performed correctly only by someone with extensive knowledge of how the entire automation system operates. In this case, it was clear that an ordinary intervention was just not possible.
Not only had Italian health authorities strongly advised against any travel outside the country, but no one could predict how the situation would evolve over the coming weeks, so there was a risk that, once sent to India, our technicians would be unable to return to Italy.
After evaluating existing digital technologies, Bonfiglioli Engineering technicians and our customer collaborated to build a real-time intervention platform from scratch. Our customer installed six cameras, each connected to a different computer and filming a different part of the machine. In this way, the technicians in Italy were provided a 360° view of the automation system they were working on remotely. To ensure the images were large and clear enough, the cameras were switched on one at a time, and each test done on the machine was repeated and filmed by different cameras, to compare the images and obtain a complete picture of the entire automation system.
Although the procedure was long and complex, it enabled our technicians to clearly identify the problem and guide local technical personnel to resolve the error on site.
Collaboration in Action: mixing remote with local support
The experience of diagnosing, analyzing, and fixing the machine error challenged Bonfiglioli Engineering and our customer to work together creatively. The entire intervention required over six days to build the video platform and establish the required connections; another full day to perform the tests, identify the problem and send local technical personnel to the customer site; and four more days to repair and carry out all the tests necessary to solve the problem successfully.
The ability to address and solve the problem as quickly as possible proved to be essential to guarantee our customer the assistance it needed, despite the challenges with which the problem had to be addressed. Once the emergency was resolved, the customer decided to use the video platform for other remote tests.
This experience has led Bonfiglioli Engineering to consider a series of new possibilities that will be developed in the coming months. We hope to make the capabilities described here — and other, similar applications and solutions— available to more of our customers. Some technical problems related to the poor quality of the images will be solved by providing the technicians working on the system with specific tools, such as eye glasses with an integrated camera, that will significantly reduce intervention time and provide even more satisfactory results.
Despite the times, Bonfiglioli Engineering strives to offer world-class customer service, globally, researching and creating new solutions for timely and effective interventions.
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