Remote monitoring and management of factories has long been in use by many organisations although others still question its tangible benefits. But the COVID epidemic has shown that organisations can work remotely when they have the right connectivity tools.
Moreover, with many scalable solutions available from expert suppliers, now may be a good to time to consider piloting it. The statistical analysis and visualisation of data allow users to understand what is happening at any location from anywhere.
For example, Edge devices with integrated with wireless transmission technology send terminal sensor data directly to cloud platforms. For example, Advantech’s sensing devices and Microsoft’s Azure IoT deliver remote management solutions for distributed equipment. This simplifies system architecture for connecting device to cloud solutions in IoT applications and reduces system construction costs and deployment.
For the users, the benefits are removal of manual record keeping and inputting leading to faster analysis, improved visualisation, reduced downtime, and real-time management. In Advantech’s experience, it delivers
– an increase of 15.4% production value per employee
– an 8.5% improvement in energy utilisation rate
– a 43.8% reduction in delivery cycle time
– a 13.9% reduction in product defect rate
Benefits of remote management
Schneider Electric also recognises that remote management allows plant and factory operators to work in a better way. As part of a global internal Smart Factory initiative to modernise and digitise over 80 production factories across the globe, they field-tested remote maintenance management tools over a three-year period.
Their tools combine cybersecure remote access and augmented reality to enable remote management of factory floor machine assets. They can continue to adjust processes, conduct maintenance, and make operational decisions with actionable insights that drive productivity. Moreover, it is possible with sites having restricted access or where it is not desirable.
Machine availability is critical, and most producers use a diverse range of machines and equipment. This can make it difficult to have a specialist on-site to resolve all issues whenever they occur. Remote connections allow remote experts to access multiple machine maintenance issues from almost anywhere across the globe.
How does remote maintenance management help?
Using secure connection tools, an OEM or system integrator expert is able to connect via a cybersecure cloud connection to the end-user machine that is experiencing a problem. The expert can then diagnose the problem by checking the machine data, parameters, and logging information. Depending on the issue identified, the OEM will propose the fastest way to implement a fix. In some cases, the OEM may know about the problem before the end-user realises that the machine is underperforming. For simple issues like a firmware upgrade or software change, the OEM or system integrator can often make the change remotely.
Secomea, a leading supplier of Secure Remote Access Solutions, has long anticipated the need to expand our working habits and include remote access as a viable tool in maintaining our operational effectiveness. They produce a series of industrial communications solutions and equipment with unique firewall and VPN software. In particular, their SiteManager solution provides secure remote access gateways for industrial installations using any type of physical communication port over LAN, cellular and WiFi networks.