It’s hard to believe that just ten years ago, many of us were using flip phones and even… PAGERS!
Watching your favorite television shows required being in the family living room with a CRT TV and if you were unable to watch a show as scheduled, you had to program the VCR (Hint for Millennials: Google “Video Cassette Recorder”) to record it.
Enter the SMART PHONE.
Now, all of the above - along with practically anything else in our lives from paying bills to feeding our pets while we’re away - can be done through a smart phone. It’s not hard to admit that we are all addicted to this super-device. How can you resist looking at it during dinner with a date or when you’re sitting in gridlock just for a quick fix of social media browsing and email checking.
With these advancements, it’s no surprise that some of these conveniences have impacted the scope of instrumentation in industrial monitoring and control.
At a recent tradeshow I attended, a majority of companies were boasting of smart phone apps and Bluetooth wireless for remote monitoring just for the sake of convenience.
I had to ask myself: “What is the value of technological convenience for an operator in industrial alarm management?” Is it worth the trade-off of increased distractions and ultimately putting the operation at risk?
We’ve all read the studies that multitasking more often does harm than good (check out this most recent article from Forbes.com.) So I can’t help but wonder if multitasking via ones devices would hinder and delay an operator’s reaction to a critical situation?
Critical monitoring in itself should be isolated from other tasks, which in turn would also address any vulnerability to software hacking and glitches that require software upgrade patches. The use of a dedicated alarm system that is completely separate from "smart" technology is beneficial to process monitoring in terms of safety. There’s a reason our flashing annunciators catch the attention of hundreds of tradeshow exhibitors who pass by our booth. It is unambiguous and IN YOUR FACE.
There's no doubt that advanced software, apps and Bluetooth notifications systems serve an important function in the world of automation, data and productivity. But don't let the charm of these devices leave you blind when it comes to critical process alarms.
What do you think? Do you still see the value in a dedicated process monitoring system?