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How is moving to cellular going to help us?

Phil Barron

Posted 06/04/2017
  Read more from Phil

Robert is a design engineer in an organisation looking towards the future, but struggling for inspiration. The organisation has held a good position in its market place, manufacturing and supplying vending machines to garage forecourts.

The vending machines are typical of the types you see for checking and inflating vehicle tyres.


Robert has long been the champion of new solutions, but doesn’t always feel as though he is listened to, particularly by his MD. This results in new ideas and proposals being rejected.

Despite this, Robert enjoys his job and has a good rapport with the sales team and the installation team alike.

One day Robert is in his office looking through a list of issues with customers when his phone rings. It his MD Brett. Robert is summoned to Brett’s office to get a rundown of the issues that face the company about its lack-lustre and ageing product range.

The general summary is that:
• Revenues are ok but could be a lot better.
• They lack good business intelligence information.
• Competition are offering newer machines.
• Service staff are busy but are being pulled to jobs in an inefficient manner, as maintenance is becoming more and more reactive rather than pro-active. Consequently, service response times are becoming unacceptable.

Robert welcomes the opportunity for tackling the problems and diplomatically explains that he has tried to communicate an urgency and a commitment to moving the product range on. Brett is interested to hear Robert’s ideas.
Robert states that he feels the product and service issues could be addressed by incorporating cellular technology into their product specifications.

“How is moving to cellular, going to help us, it’s just going to add more cost?” says an exasperated Brett.

Robert answers by painting a picture to Brett of what life would look like in a cellular world.

Robert’s presentation is passionate and enthusiastic outlining the benefits there would be in connecting their equipment to the cellular network. Imagine a world in which we could get at any information we wanted from the machines, without even visiting them, says Robert. We can sit at our desks and get data we need including, on how our machines are performing, whether they need servicing, peak times of usage and what level of business they have taken in any period.

In addition, we would be able to:
• Tell whether the cash box is secure, which we can’t do at present without a site visit.
• Run diagnostics and rectify faults quickly and easily.
• Better prepare for essential site visits.
• Add advertising displays to rent out and bring in further revenue.
• Get better control of our costs, because of the service efficiency.
• Enhance the Company’s reputation, as we become slicker.

“This all sounds very good” says Brett, “but how long is it going to take to re-design our product, whilst we run up further costs before seeing any benefit?”

“Shorter than you think” says Robert. “We don’t need to change our equipment, we just need to add a communications device, called a modem, to our existing equipment, and then take the decision as to whether we develop our own programming code, or buy a solution where the programming is already done for us”.

“Well you say, just add it to our equipment, but how”? says Brett

“Our equipment has a serial communications port, and so do the modem solutions that I have looked at in the past”, says Robert. “We connect the serial ports together, and then data from the equipment has the potential to be sent over the cellular network in seconds”.

“Even so”, responds Brett, “we have hundreds of machines out there, so this will cost a small fortune”.
Robert is not to be deterred and counters by saying,” By taking a phased approach and deploying cost effective industrial modem solutions, we will quickly gain an idea of the amount of productive time we are spending on machines with cellular vs. those without”.

Ok, says Brett, let’s give it a try. Bring me your plans on a phased approach, in a weeks’ time and if it looks good, we’ll give it a trial, and then implement accordingly.

If like Brett, you would like to consider cellular communications for your equipment, look at the links below to help you find a way to a connected world:
Adding an embedded modem to your existing equipment
Adding a “boxed” modem to your existing equipment
Adding a solution that works “out of the box”

Tags: modem communications device communications cellular cellular technology cellular solution 


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