Fluke Connect’s goal: Capture and share meter data anywhere
Fluke’s debut of a new app-based wireless system to capture, analyze, and share test and measurement data from remote devices may be the final death knell for the clipboard and the pencil.
On Monday, May 12, Fluke formally unveiled Fluke Connect, a system that allows electrical and maintenance personnel to wirelessly capture and transmit measurement data through a smartphone app to other plant personnel or other remote locations. The system allows for real-time data capture, trending, video and audio notes, and automatic transmission to cloud storage systems. The free app is available for download as of May 12 from the Apple App Store, and the app is expected to be available for Android devices in June.
The new system can be retrofitted on 20 current Fluke metering devices, and company officials who demonstrated the system for CFE Media editors last week said it will be the foundation on which future Fluke metering will be built.
"Data needed to substantiated today in order for work orders to be written," said Sal Parlatore, Fluke’s vice president of global marketing. "Today, there’s less writing down information. Now we’re capturing data from handheld tools."
Project manager John Neeley, the architect of the Fluke Connect system, said there is a growing adoption of handheld devices by measurement personnel and manufacturers, and this system helps link the information to others in the plant who need to see it. "It’s about connecting team members," Neeley said. "It’s not about the Internet of Things; it’s about the people."
In a press release announcing Fluke Connect, company officials noted four specific functions in the system:
- AutoRecord, which transmits measurements and infrared images to the Fluke Cloud storage, where others can access the information.
- ShareLive, which allows technicians to share measurements with other team members in real time, get approvals for repairs, or get questions answered without leaving the field.
- EquipmentLog is a historian which links measurements to specific equipment to create a maintenance and operational history log
- TrendIt allows technicians to instantly graph data and to identify equipment performance trends.
Safety was continually emphasized during the CFE Media demonstration. Existing measurement capture on Fluke equipment is a one-button process, which allows workers, especially with electrical equipment, to capture data while still wearing the proper PPE for the job. The Fluke Connect system extends that process.
"It’s designed for use with PPE to create the opportunity to work more safely," Neeley said. "You use the tools as you always would, and the information goes to the phone."
Parlatore related that during Fluke Connect’s field testing, a customer using the Fluke Connect system said he saved 4 hours of downtime and $10,000 by troubleshooting an electrical problem using the talents of an alert local technician who thought something looked suspicious and a senior engineer offsite who was connected to the data. Fluke officials said they expect their customers to help find new ways to use Fluke Connect in the field. "We’re creating a developer’s community," said Neeley. "We want to make the system open and accessible."
"We are not solving fundamentally new problems; we are creating greater interaction to help our customers get to the right answer," said Paul Heydron, Fluke’s vice president of engineering. "Our customers generally are not software engineers, but they understand how to make complex systems simple. Our goal with Fluke Connect has been to simplify things."
– See additional photos from Fluke’s demonstration to CFE Media below.