In the digital age, remote management helps factory operators to continuously adjust processes, carry out maintenance work, and make operational decisions based on feasible recommendations, which can improve efficiency and easily troubleshoot problems even when they cannot or do not want to go to the site.
In the face of emergencies, when employees are unable to work in the factory, being able to remotely access the industrial automation system under safe conditions is particularly important for maintaining the normal production and operation of the factory.
Before the emergence of the digital remote management model, the daily maintenance of the machine was costly and inefficient. Manual operation and manual maintenance require a longer repair time, and the production line will face a more frequent shutdown time waiting for the adjustment, which also means that the company's profits are reduced.
In the past, when a factory machine failed, the processing flow usually included the following multiple steps:
- The operator reports the problem to the management.
- The management dispatches a maintenance team.
- The maintenance team will contact technical experts via email or phone to solve the problem.
- Since the experts of the original equipment manufacturer or system integrator cannot directly connect to the faulty machine, the two parties can only discuss the problem by telephone.
- Based on the on-site diagnosis results, the original equipment manufacturer may send representatives to the site to assist in solving the problem.
- As experts need to go to various production sites to solve maintenance problems, their work schedules are usually very full, and factory downtime is also extended.
- In many cases, if the initial diagnosis result is wrong, the spare parts carried by the technician will also be wrong, which will extend the waiting time and delay the operation of the production line.
To reduce the loss of resources and improve the operation of the production industry, factories need to formulate corresponding workflows so that experts can quickly establish connections with machines. With the advancement of technology, experts can now use digital tools to quickly establish a remote connection with the malfunctioning machine, to diagnose and solve the problem faster. Through the collaborative work model, experts can solve all kinds of machine problems instantly in the office, at home, or anywhere.
The application of remote operation is driven by the urgent needs of the rapid transformation of industrial business, and the needs of factories include improving machine availability lowering of costs, and gaining faster resolution of maintenance and operation problems.
The following is the operation process of remote maintenance and management:Secure remote connection
With the help of a secure connection tool, experts from original equipment manufacturers or system integrators can access machines that have failed at the end-user through a secure cloud connection platform, check machine data, parameters, and logs, and diagnose problems remotely. Finally, based on the identified problems, the original equipment manufacturer will propose the fastest repair method. The original equipment manufacturer can even pay attention to the machine before the end-user notices that the performance of the machine is degraded. This way they can avoid shut down time by maintaining the machine early.
Operators can take advantage of augmented reality technology
If the diagnosed problem is relatively easy to repair (for example, you only need to upgrade the firmware or adjust the software), experts from the original equipment manufacturer or system integrator can automatically repair it through a secure cloud connection. If you need to perform some simple operations on-site (such as replacing the clogged filter on the machine), the operator can use augmented reality tools on a tablet or mobile phone to complete this task, even without expert guidance. On the tablet, you can not only see the augmented reality images of the device, the latest online documents, operating procedures, and even watch videos of the operating methods to complete tasks.
Can accelerate process changes
The following tools can also help change the way machine operators are trained:
Virtual maintenance and operation
- Experts can quickly train operators through video-like methods, to help them solve the current urgent problems.
- It can demonstrate each step of any new process to the operator through images, and provide support for the switch of product lines.
- Augmented reality tools can ensure that operators perform the correct steps in the correct order.
- Relevant operation information will be sent to the central processing unit and can be used as a management report to clarify which operators have reviewed the new process and documents when performing tasks, and determine whether the executed steps are successful or not.
At present, major factories around the world are accelerating the pace of remote management. Remote management not only helps improve machine performance and reduce maintenance costs, but also helps experts improve work efficiency because they no longer need to spend time-on-site, and the time saved can provide more customers with remote technical support, which not only improves efficiency, it also has the advantage of real-time problem-solving.
Practical application of remote operation
Automation suppliers have been advocating recording and viewing data anytime and anywhere. With the open and secure Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) solution technology, remote monitoring and operation can be truly implemented. The core ideas include:
- The maturity and integration of IT/OT open standards in software, applications, and connections have reduced engineering and deployment costs.
- The Internet, as a zero-trust OT backbone network, is censored and protected by e-commerce. When this model is applied to automation systems and sensors, innovation and user value are unlimited.
- A new generation of edge OT equipment is built on new secure digital computing components and supply chains.
With these elements, you can access process data anytime, anywhere, and practice remote monitoring and operation regardless of whether it is applied in various industries and processes.
From any mobile device or platform, relevant supervisors and operators can participate in decentralized monitoring, control, and maintenance. Mass data can be used in the factory, edge, or cloud as needed. By using public networks, communication costs are reduced to zero, and critical data and processes are protected and secured.
Enabling secure remote operation in practice
The ability to monitor and control remote equipment without locating or deploying field technicians is a major benefit of upgrading remote site automation.
Interact with the system
The user interacts with the automation system through SCADA software, which manages the integration between Bedrock security controls and the AWS cloud, where the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud EC2 server hosts the SQL database. This IIoT architecture is fully scalable in terms of processor memory and disk storage. The connection between OPC UA and Bedrock OSA Remote is the reason for extending the safety PLC architecture to remote locations via TCP/IP. The combination of Bedrock OSA Remote, AWS Cloud, and SCADA database provides real-time status of all operations. This allows the operator to view and interact with the entire operation from any location, thereby increasing the operator's work efficiency.
Through the software monitoring the production line in time and throughout the process, the software application at the other end of the production line will be able to grasp the current situation of the machine's operation. In the event of a major deviation, the software will send a signal to the controller to issue an alarm, or shut down and suspend operation, and take other mitigation measures. The automation system enables one person to control the entire conveying operation with higher reliability and decision-making ability. Moreover, because problems are detected immediately, downtime and related costs can be minimized and management costs reduced.
Automated problem detection, alarm notification, and intervention can solve problems in material flow, and prevent system downtime, emissions, or other factors that affect cost and profitability.
Complete industrial IoT solution
- The real-time visibility of all operations and the ability to monitor multiple devices enable the operator to control a larger part of the operation.
- Automated problem detection, alarm, and intervention. Although in this case, the problem is leakage and loss of water, any variable can affect the material flow, system downtime, emissions, or other factors that affect cost and profitability.
- Reduce the administrative cost of management and reporting.
- Process optimization and design improvement.
Through secure open technology and the cloud, tremendous progress can be made in productivity and cost control. No matter where you are, being able to interact with your data and processes will allow you to benefit from this open security automation.