Using Experts and the Internet: A Fast, Green Way to Service Equipment

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When something goes wrong with a process system, manufacturers need immediate help. Thanks to the internet, there’s often no need to get on a plane when you can use a humble web browser to peer inside machinery located thousands of miles away. Using Applied Materials’ remote access capability, the company expects to avoid enough travel to save more than 650,000 pounds of CO2 emissions this year alone.

Until recently, specialist service engineers had to stop whatever they were doing, gather the tools of their trade and head for the airport when a call for help arrived. Now, we can equip all the tools in a factory with sophisticated data acquisition and remote connectivity systems to allow experts to interact with the tool in much the same way they would if they were physically present.

As an example, a machine at a chip factory in Singapore was recently experiencing frustrating intermittent failures that caused a backlog of partially-completed chips to build up. Logging in from Taiwan and California, engineers were able to access event logs, comb through sensor data and even run experiments in real time to pinpoint the root cause of the problem and prescribe the solution, all without leaving their desks.

Remote access speeds up problem solving, of course, just by cutting out the travel time. But, remote service is also good for the planet. My conservative estimate is that our customer service engineers will fly over 2,000,000 fewer miles this year. Using the EPA’s Climate Leaders guidelines, that translates to more than 650,000 pounds of CO2 saved. That’s a good start, and as we use remote access more and more, we expect that physically traveling to troubleshoot a machine will soon seem rather old-fashioned.

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