Remote Access Down on the Farm

Nov. 9, 2011
Saving a Few Hours of Driving Time for a Service Call to Diagnose a Problem Can Be Massive. Using an App Is Much Better Than a Web Browser

By Dan Hebert, PE, Senior Technical Editor

Samuel Jackson builds moisture control products for drying and moisture restoration systems. The company uses remote access because many of its customers are seasonal businesses, such as cotton gins, or are located in remote areas that are hard for service people to reach. "Saving a few hours of driving time for a service call to diagnose a problem can be massive for our customers," notes Mark Gentry, an engineer with the OEM. "It allows us to cover customers across a wide area very quickly. As an example, just today I was able to help customers in Arkansas, Georgia, Texas and North Carolina that I couldn't have helped without the ability to see what they see."

"Without a doubt the most popular remote access capability we've given our customers is the AutomationDirect MobileMirror iPhone and iPad app that allows them to watch their operation in real time," Gentry reports.

Using an app is much better than a web browser, he argues. "With a browser on a mobile device, you have to load a page with headers, graphics, and other overhead," he explains. "With an app, the only thing you need to pull is the data itself, which, in most cases, doesn't amount to very many bytes. Customers don't really understand this, but they do understand that the app is very quick to get going and very fast in operation."