Cloud-based Platform Expands Digital Assistance

GF MACHINING SOLUTIONS launched its My rConnect cloud-based service and support platform engineered for its own EDM, milling, and laser texturing machines, allowing operators to connect any GFMS machine for fast, responsive, and easily accessible service and support. It also provides expanded digital capabilities for those operations.

Prior to My rConnect, shops were required to have a connection between a machine and the rConnect software. And a separate, dedicated PC – other than the machine’s – was needed to run the software and to access the Internet, to connect with GFMS technicians. My rConnect is cloud-based, so as long as a computer is connected to the same network as the current GFMS machine, that machine is connected to My rConnect.

GFMS machines without network access but that are connected to the Internet can also use My rConnect. With My rConnect, machine shops gain the ability to contact GFMS for service calls for machines that previously were not connected by the older PC version of rConnect software. They can update a machine’s profile with any service information, record repair issues, obtain updated machine documentation, and more.

Security is a primary benefit of bypassing the need for a direct connection: My rConnect is password-protected and includes an extended level of protection by which the system verifies user identity via text message or email code.

My rConnect provides a virtual link between a machine and the GFMS service and support team, often eliminating the need for a technician to travel to a customer’s shop. When problems occur with those machines that are networkable, shops create an event for that issue, and a service engineer will log in and ask for permission to access and view the machine via the live Remote Assist function to diagnose problems at the machine level.

For non-networkable GFMS machines, the process is basically the same. However, once a GFMS service engineer connects using Remote Assist, the operator and GFMS service engineer can use the My rConnect audio/video/chat/ and whiteboard to communicate and resolve the problem.

From these types of service calls, GFMS can record data for how a particular service problem was resolved. If that same problem occurs but with a different customer, this database of information allows the service engineer to quickly fix and/or diagnose the problem.

Within My rConnect, users can create groups, such as for the machines in various production facility locations. Once done, they can request any related documentation, such as manuals, for a particular machine. Instead of service having to send it, customers with My rConnect-connected machines can simply download needed documentation.

With a machine network connected to My rConnect, machine shops gain more digital capability. This includes access to current and future developed applications (apps) that enhance the capabilities of customer machines, and the platform makes new or updated apps easy to acquire. GFMS can push the new apps or application update directly to a customer’s machines, notifying them when they log into a particular machine.

One of these apps is a new version of the company’s Job Recorder, now for Wire EDM machines, and a version for its milling machines. The app lets shops record all the jobs they’ve done to generate efficiency reports based on how much time during the course of a day a machine worked on certain jobs.

Another extremely useful app is the Machine Dashboard. It shows real time machine status – whether it’s running, paused, or off. For running machines, it will show the job being done and how long the machine has been working on it, in addition to all the previous jobs that have been processed on that particular machine and how long each of those have taken.

Central communications platforms such as My rConnect provide fast and comprehensive IIoT connectivity, and according to GFMS North America and Mexico president Chris Jones, systems such as My rConnect have special appeal in for aerospace, defense, and medical part manufacturing – industries that are under constant pressure to record information and validate machining processes.

“Direct Internet connectivity,” Jones said, “represents the future of end user-machine builder relationships, and the goal of platforms such as My rConnect is to ensure that a shop’s machine is running, cutting parts, and generating profit for the maximum amount of time available.”

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