How many times has this happened to you...you're out on the shop floor and there's a piece of information that you need to reference and it's back on your computer on the other side of the shop. This could be a quick glance at a CAD Drawing, a quick re-read on a customer's email or the phone number of a vendor. You can't login to a nearby machine, because it doesn't have the right software or information. You don't want to run back to your computer, because that takes time and increases the possibility of getting sidetracked.
Did you know that Windows has a solution for this - and that it is built in to every operating system from XP up? If you have heard of Terminal Server, this same kind of thing is available on a smaller scale from each workstation in a tool called Remote Desktop. As long as two computers are on the same network, if Remote Desktop has been enabled at the "host" computer, you should be able to access it - including all of your normal data - from any other computer on the network.
To take this one step further, once Remote Desktop is enabled, there are several freeware apps that will allow using the Remote Desktop protocol to access your computer from your smartphone or tablet device as long as that device is connected to the same network as the Host computer. This obviously isn't a great "work" environment because of screen size and lack of a mouse, but it's definitely passable as a "quick reference" without running back to your desk.
Some things to be aware of:
- If you are logged in at the Host computer, and connect to it from a Client with the credentials of the user logged in at the Host, you'll connect to the existing session. If you connect with different credentials, it will log out the current account on the Host. This boils down to you get your own data, but other users cannot.
- There may be some additional configuration required on your network or PC to utilize Remote Desktop including (but not limited to) local user rights, firewall and Local Security Policy on the Host.
- This does not automatically configure the Host computer to be accessed outside of the local area network (for example, working from home).
However, it could be used in conjunction with other technology changes to accommodate that. If you were to set that up, the benefit could be a significant cost savings. Say you have an employee who needs to work from home, but only on a very occasional basis. Rather than providing them with a laptop that they will rarely use off of their desk or buying them copies of software to load on to their home computers, they could use their own personal computer (even a Mac) to Remote Desktop back to the manufacturing job shop and access their company - with all of its information and software just like they were sitting at their desk. Again this will require configuration, and there is cost for this configuration, but it may be worth investigating.
Consult with your local I/T resource to see if and how you can leverage this built-in Windows function to make your life easier. You may also refer to Microsoft's Remote Desktop FAQ's: