Wireless: Handhelds Hold Sway

Staff in the field increasingly rely on wireless handheld devices.

By Seán Ottewell, Editor at Large

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That same month, Siemens Industry Automation & Drive Technologies, Munich, Germany, and Alpharetta, Ga., announced that it had improved the performance and hardware of its portable devices for wireless operator control and monitoring of machinery and plants, and enhanced them with additional functions.

The 277F IWLAN Mobile Panel for safety-oriented applications communicates via an access procedure known as "rapid roaming." This ensures fast handover of radio signals between access points and interruption-free roaming times — which is crucial to make certain that the mobile device can perform safety-related actions at all times (Figure 3).

Also in April, Techs4Biz Corp., Hauppauge, N.Y., a provider of software products for managing field activities, announced enhancements to Pervidi's W3, including support for any browser-enabled device including iPhones, Blackberries, iPads and mobile phones. Pervidi W3 includes the ability to record electronic inspections, audits, site surveys, work orders and field activities using any browser-enabled device, dramatically expanding the range of products available to field service personnel for performing their activities and electronically recording results.

In addition to real-time access to information, Pervidi W3 enables managers and supervisors to reassign work to other field technicians, verify status of inspections and work orders, and ensure that activities are performed on time.

Meanwhile,  Syclo, Hoffman Estates, Ill., announced in March that its SMART Work Manager and SMART Service Manager applications now are SAP-certified for enterprise support. Syclo's applications connect to the SAP global support backbone and have built-in support for incident processing and remote diagnostics using the partner edition of SAP Solution Manager, providing end-to-end incident management processes.

German utility RheinEnergie, Cologne, aims to take advantage of SMART Work Manager to automate technicians' daily meter and preventative maintenance work-order processes. ENERGY4U, Mannhein, Germany, is implementing the project.

"When ENERGY4U explained SAP was now collaborating with Syclo on the co-innovation of mobile solutions, we were very intrigued, but after learning the SMART Work Manager application worked on both laptops and PDAs, synchronized to SAP ERP without issue, came with a flexible mobile architecture, and required little effort to support it, we were sold," says a RheinEnergie spokeswoman. "Syclo, in cooperation with SAP, provides a low-risk choice to facilitate the exchange of data between our remote workforce and our enterprise implementation of SAP ERP."

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