Incomplete closeouts and extra truck rolls are the enemy of tower services companies. With field test process automation (TPA), tower technicians can efficiently troubleshoot deployments and quickly provide test results for cell site installation closeouts, according to a webinar presented by Viavi Solutions and Avalon Test Equipment.
“We’re looking to create a closed loop capability where the technician has a check list of the tests to be completed,” said Steve Gale, wireless segment account management at Viavi Solutions. “That checklist can be created by someone centrally, perhaps a foreman or an adept technician, who can translate carrier requirements into what tests need to be done.”
Once created, the checklist, or “Job,” can be pushed out to the field test instrument by email, use of a USB stick or through the cloud. Any type of connectivity will suffice, including WiFi, cellular, Bluetooth and FTP. The TPA training covered test automation of cable and antenna analysis (sweep testing), fiber inspection and optical time-domain reflectometer (OTDR), including a live demonstration.
Automating workflows reduces manual test processes and data entry, which minimizes human error and increases consistency of test execution, according to Gale. “Obviously, you’ve got a lot of work to do, and you have got to do it faster, cheaper and smarter,” he said. “If we can build a sequence of tasks for the technician, we won’t end up in a situation where we walk away from the site and find out later that the technician didn’t do the right tests, and therefore we can’t submit the close out.”
After all the tests are completed, the technician creates a report on the instrument and offloads it back from the field to the home office via the same way they received the checklist, (WiFi, cellular, Bluetooth or FTP). The data can be uploaded to StrataSync, a cloud-based software application that provides asset, configuration, and test-data management for Viavi Solutions instruments. In addition, through an available API, the data can be automatically forwarded to the end customer’s data collection application.
“If you establish an API between you and your customer, you can have information go directly to your customer,” he said. Using dashboards on StrataSync, a tower services company can keep a real time tally on the success of the tests, he added. For the most part, end customer carriers expect to see PDFs with the test results, backed by trace files with all the underlying and supporting information. Gale said Viavi’s goal is to reduce complexity to the point where a test can be achieved with a push of a button or even a no-button test.
Training needs can be reduced with easy-to-use instruments featuring clear, simple pass and fail indicators and guided test processes. “If we get the decision making out, it’s faster and more repeatable,” he said. “Consistently executed testing processes will deliver quality results every time. Objective evidence of proper job completion can be achieved with a closed-loop test process.”
Did you miss the webinar? You can still watch it here.