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A first for E-Eyes: Remote repairs save time & money for an Illinois printer

Press release from the issuing company

Bloomington, Illinois -- MAN Roland’s E-Eyes remote diagnostic tool is now a commercial reality. Illinois sheetfed stalwart BOPI (Bloomington Offset Process, Inc.) has become the first printer in the nation to use the device to eliminate the need for a service call. Part of MAN Roland’s ServiceVision program, E-Eyes is a specially configured wireless PDA that incorporates a digital video camera and a view screen. To put it to use, a member of a press crew simply has to point E-Eyes to the problem or part that needs to be identified. The resulting live images are beamed, via the Internet, to MAN Roland’s Rapid Response Team (RRT) outside of Chicago. An RRT member uses the real time visual clues to formulate a fix and guide the printer’s press crew through the repair process. "The concept of a ‘virtual service technician’ has been kicking around the graphic arts since the advent of digitally controlled presses," says Matt Braun, the RRT member who helped develop E-Eyes. "The idea was to use computer and modem technology to eliminate the downtime, travel time and expense incurred by a conventional service call." The problem: until the introduction of E-Eyes remote service technicians were flying blind. "With E-Eyes we can literally look inside the press to see what’s wrong with it, so we have a much better starting point to work from," Braun continues. "Then we can get the press crew to focus on separate parts to get an idea of how various components are functioning." That’s how E-Eyes was used in its first-ever troubleshooting assignment at BOPI. "We had a circuit board that was acting up on one of our ROLAND 700s and we got E-Eyes out to give Matt in Chicago a look," says Thomas G. Mercier, CEO and president of BOPI. "I was able to verify mechanical settings and effect an electrical repair over the phone," Braun recalls. "This saved the customer travel expenses, time waiting for a technician to arrive, and within an hour the machine was back in operation." On the customer side of E-Eyes, Mercier was equally pleased: "The circuit boards have lights on them that tell the MAN Roland technicians about the press’ operating status. When you’re describing an array of indicators or some other complicated assembly like that, you’re never quite sure if you are communicating accurately or miscommunicating with the technicians. With E-Eyes, there’s never a doubt." Mercier also believes that E-Eyes will give his crews the confidence to attempt more remote repairs. "When a press is down, the last thing you need is some inaccurate information that further harms the piece of equipment that you’re trying to fix," he says. "As sophisticated as printing equipment has become, you don’t need any extra hiccups along the way. E-Eyes provides positive identification and with the technicians guidance, you know you’re heading in the right direction." BOPI’s two six-color-plus-coater ROLAND 700s are also equipped with PECOM’s Remote Service Diagnostics. "That lets MAN Roland’s technical team to actually dial into the press so they can view everything that our press operators are seeing on their control consoles," Mercier explains. Braun likes the way the two work in tandem. "RSD lets us make adjustments or even download data for analysis by the factory to make sure any problem is solved quickly and without the need for an onsite visit," Braun notes. "And now with the availability of E-Eyes, remote diagnosis is more effective than ever." Mercier concurs: "It’s a good idea because they can be here without being here. That can save us over a thousand dollars in travel time alone compared to a regular service call. Then there are cases where the technician needs a special part after he’s arrived. That can cost you an extra day of expenses and downtime. With E-Eyes, we save all that money and all that production time." Each member on every BOPI press crew knows how to operate the E-Eyes system. "It’s pretty simple, like using a video camera," Mercier says. "That enhances its value because we don’t want to have someone out ill or on vacation and being without this capability." BOPI also has used E-Eyes as a parts identification device: "There was a maintenance part we needed — a hose connection — and had no way of describing it accurately. We sent MAN Roland an E-Eye view and we had the right part the next day." In addition to acquiring E-Eyes, BOPI recently upgraded its PECOM operating and automation systems on its ROLAND 700s, adding ServerNet, PrepressLink, JobPilot and PressMonitor. The latter two modules recently received an InterTech Award from GATF. "All of the automation keeps working better and better, the more we use it," Mercier declares. Braun sees the BOPI experience as the beginning of a new era of automation in press support, service and maintenance. "With E-Eyes, PECOM RSD and RRT, the concept of a virtual technician has become a reality," he says.