When the Show Must Go On – Remote Expertise via Telemaintenance

By Eric Olson

PHILIPPINE SEA - Information Systems Technician 1st Class James Davis, from Columbia, South Carolina, performs a test run of the Distance Communications Maintenance System (DCoMS) aboard the Navy's forward-deployed aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), the flagship of Carrier Strike Group 5, while the ship was underway conducting routine operations.

Pandemics, political unrest, and weather events, oh my!  The nature of our role as rotating machinery experts-for-hire typically requires us to get from where we are (offices throughout the USA) to where the problem is (around the world).  In our 25-years-and-counting of solving problems, we have often had to improvise in order to get our expertise to where the issue was when a plane ride simply wouldn’t do.

We first began to think hard about telemaintenance about 15 years ago, when it wasn’t a great time to be traveling to Southeast Asia due to another pandemic, the Avian Flu.  A power plant was cracking their turbine exhaust hood while running with high vibration.  We figured out how to ship our diagnostic equipment and talk the customer through the data acquisition process.  We reviewed the data, modeled a solution, and communicated that back to the customer for implementation.  When the pandemic had died down, we went to the site and confirmed the results, and the turbine lived happily ever after.

About 10 years ago, the US Navy starting thinking hard about how to support ship-board machinery space diagnostic activities with the subject-matter-experts staying on shore.  Why incur all the time, expense, delay, and wear-and-tear of travel if it wasn’t necessary?  We heeded the call to develop a solution, based on our previous experience and understanding of the unique needs of the machinery diagnostician.  We recently took our Distance Communications Maintenance System (DCoMS) for a spin aboard a US aircraft carrier, bringing our vision of telemaintenance to the military at a time of significant need, and look forward to the continued success of this program. 

And in the past several weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have supported multiple customers facing difficult rotating machinery challenges, be it reviewing their data, implementing our remote data collection methodology, or following the necessary precautions to support the effort on-site.  We can’t help it – we love solving problems.  Let us know if we can help you solve yours.

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