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 Posted: Tue Jun 9th, 2015 11:32 am
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Joined: Fri Jun 24th, 2011
Location: Leeds, United Kingdom
Posts: 52
I lead myself wide open to be shot down I'm sure but hopefully this is a balanced counter argument to an internet based system for service driven by a PC...

Firstly perhaps you can qualify the statement "old technology".

Secondly, let me mention before my response that all the manufacturers mentioned meet the regulation requirements and so therefore can be used within the scheme....

However... :)

As far as I am concerned all the units which you refer to, including the TradeMaster utilise "modern PC based systems" the only differential from what I can understand in your argument is a connection to service personnel through the internet for the Trademaster (also offered on some competitor units for some time).

In my opinion, since the PC is driving both the Brake Tester and Gas Analyser you are twice as vulnerable to problems with "modern" PC technology... No PC = No brake testing, No Emissions testing and also No Internet service response. All in all it's a nice idea but it doesn't work in practice as a bulletproof solution for reliability (been there done that - see below) which actually is what both manufacturers try to balance against cost and what the VTS' should be purely interested in...

I don't have my own branded emissions but think about it from a manufacturers perspective... the PC internet service feature is a win win (win, win):

Win #1: VTS' believe that they can be better served in times of crisis. In Yorkshire we use a telephone for this type of immediate diagnosis and can respond equally as well using this "old technology" - especially when the RBT/Emissions PC isn't working when you WILL be picking up the phone! Anything more complicated than turn it off and on, or checking connections and you're basically looking at a callout anyway...

Win#2: PC's are cheaper than having an analyser with standalone internal computation & with only have 1 PC running the entire bay I can either be slightly more competitive from a cost perspective or I can "pocket the difference".

Win #3: The next win is the fact that by being dongled to the internet connection I could turn you off remotely, if say, you weren't up to date with your calibration payments :shock: . Also, by design, I could easily ensure that if you unplug the internet connection the RBT or emissions console won't start at all!

Win #4: The final win is that in those times where a problem does occur (lets face it all equipment has a certain vulnerability) I wouldn't need a trained service department at all and I can get you, the customer, to perform that function for me...

I'll say it: No manufacturer in it's right mind would look to eliminate entirely, by design, the need for a site visit, which of course would probably be chargeable for an emergency response situation - unless they don't have a service department or rely on Joe Bloggs round the corner who can be trained "On the Job" so to speak.

Ultimately businesses are in business to make money in the same way that a VTS is... and actually no-one wants unnecessary call outs, which have a cost; both to stations and to a service department...

Therefore in most circumstances I can't see that this (internet service) is done for any other reason than Win #3 (or #4 if the supplier is looking to minimise overheads / has bad field reliability). Obviously you believe there is an advantage to internet assistance so I'd like to understand the specifics of under what circumstances you expect this to be of value...

My perspective;

a) you should choose a reliable, proven system in the first place and avoid the need for service call outs... Fairly obvious, ask around but come to your own conclusions based on fact than opinion.

b) opt for/prefer a non-PC based system to eliminate the possibility of a PC crash rendering your equipment useless - I'm sure many readers of this post will be able to think back to winter time to know a PC's vulnerability to environmental temperature and I'm sure someone reading this will have a Bosch or a Stargas and will testify to the bulletproof reliability of a stand alone system... Unfortunately such systems are becoming rarer as people seem to prefer the modern impression that a PC or tablet gives...

Let's be honest about it; a non-PC based system is 60's technology so ask yourself why is it still available? Because it works and so it has remained largely unchanged for many years. Yes, its a little more expensive at point of sale, yes it's not all flashy graphics like a PC based system but does a flashy presentation capability help when your PC isn't operating and you're not testing?? - no test fee, no repairs falling out believe me it doesn't take too long before these curves cross!

Having been there when we introduced our first ATL's and implemented PC technology for the download function within our own bays (we use non-PC based RBT's as well) I can tell you that you need a big service department in December which also incidentally turns out to be a big waste of time as when you get to site on an emergency response you can guarentee the unit is working (temperature will rise sufficiently in the hour or so it takes to attend) leaving everyone scratching their heads as to if it was an bench or PC based problem.

Personally I would swerve anything with PC operation although this is becoming harder as time passes - a) you are tied to a location on the workshop floor for the RBT display (there's never a good place to locate the console and it takes up space) and b) either both items work or you're at a total stop.

If it's tablet based you have a chance because the unit can be kept in a warmer environment rather than being bolted to the workshop floor - although tablets don't bounce well and they can be driven away from the VTS by the presenter when the NT leaves it on the passenger seat like an infra-red remote...

Hopefully this post may be of use...

Finally to conclude: Only ATL RBT's generally need a PC (with Internet assistance) and so since OPTL's now exist even if this internet service technology had a use (which I cannot see)... it has been made redundant by regulation changes in the intervening period!! I hope you weren't sold an ATL bay variant on the basis that either;

a) that's the future - all bays will be ATL or;
b) the only other option was 2 man testing because this is not the case for either point.