The term remote management is used to describe any process in which the controlling device is not physically attached to the actual unit. There are four aspects to this process: communication method, level of control, operator training and performance issues. The primary reasons for implementing a remote management system are to improve safety and increase productivity.
Remote management applications can be found in the construction, mining, transportation and information technology industries. The number of devices that can be managed remotely has steadily increased because of the improved quality of computer programming and system designs. The increased leverage of this technology is providing new opportunities for machine and heavy equipment design.
The communication method used in a remote management system is dependent upon the intended application. For example, communication with a drilling machine in a mine cannot be based on a clear line of sight between the operator and the machine. Instead, a dedicated radio frequency or wireless communication channel is needed. The number of other machines and units controlled via a remote management system has a huge impact on the effectiveness of the communication method. Each unit must be controlled separately, with no interference from other devices.
The level of control provided via remote management also is very important. Initially, most of the equipment was very large, and the technology was used to get close enough for manual control. However, operators now require a high degree of precision and control. The tools used to control the equipment are extremely sophisticated dashboards that can be used to create a program or to move the machine in very small increments.
The remote management operator typically sits in a separate location and is responsible for controlling the equipment based on a video feed and similar information. The training required to work with this type of equipment usually is provided by the employer, because each system is different. The increased use of these tools has resulted in the development of short courses and training programs designed specifically to increase the level of skill of the operator.
One of the challenges of remote management is related to overall performance. Operator expectations can be unduly influenced by images in the media of remote-controlled robots that can be easily manipulated with great precision. In fact, a significant amount of programming and effort is required to complete a process with a remote-controlled device. Most of the adjustments that an operator would make require additional time to execute in this model.