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What is Remote Monitoring and How is it Applied?

Machine Manufacturer, Remote Service, Servitization, Digital Industrial Solutions

What is Remote Monitoring and How is it Applied?

10 Jun, 2021

This article will discuss:

  • What is remote monitoring and its application?
  • What condition monitoring and remote monitoring represent and their roles in Industrie 4.0
  • How condition monitoring differs from remote monitoring
  • The industrial solutions that make remote monitoring possible
  • The benefits of remote monitoring to the industrial sector

Industrie 4.0 introduces new ways of executing old tasks. The industrial solutions Industrie 4.0 enables are capable of delivering a ‘lights-out’ factory in which manual labor is reduced to a minimum while machines make decentralized decisions. The 4th industrial revolution also seeks to optimize the safety of industrial workforces and improve machine utilization through condition monitoring and remote monitoring strategies.

 

Do remote monitoring and condition monitoring differ?

To improve factory productivity, assets on the shop floor must function at their optimal capacity during production cycles. To ensure that production equipment works optimally, parameters that track machine utilization must be captured and analyzed to determine how optimized conditions can be recreated and maintained over time.

Condition monitoring is the application of digital-transformation technology to track machine utilization rate and other parameters that lead to an optimized production cycle. Condition monitoring utilizes digital industrial solutions such as IIoT devices and edge-computing devices to track machine performance, as well as the immediate factory-floor environment.

When key performance indicators or parameters such as overall equipment efficiency levels, overall operations effectiveness, total effective equipment performance, or throughput quality are available, this means condition monitoring is being discussed. Condition monitoring also provides the foundation for applying predictive maintenance and conditional management strategies.

Remote monitoring is another important Industrie 4.0 business model which relies heavily on the digitalization of the factory floor. At its core, remote monitoring focuses on supervising and controlling diverse aspects of an industrial process from any location, using industrial digitalization solutions. These processes could be the condition of a machine, the condition of shop-floor operations, or even the interrelated relationships such as a material-handling system’s effect on shop-floor traffic.

Remote monitoring is achieved through locally installed industrial solutions that include software and hardware components. Hardware such as IIoT and edge devices, as well as advanced robotic systems, is controlled through a remote monitoring and management platform such as the industrial cloud or an IoT platform.

One could say that when condition monitoring is performed from a remote location, it falls under the jurisdiction of remote monitoring. The industrial terms that relate to remote monitoring include machine utilization, throughput quality, on-the-go management, etc. Remote monitoring serves as an important foundation for achieving an automated factory in which human intervention has been reduced to the barest minimum.

Using the above definitions, the differences between remote monitoring and condition monitoring include:

  • Condition monitoring focuses on in-house monitoring activities while remote monitoring utilizes installed agents to monitor and manage shop-floor activities from remote locations.
  • Condition monitoring attempts to optimize the use of shop-floor equipment and assets while remote monitoring takes its monitoring capabilities to the next level by allowing users to control shop-floor processes.
  • Remote monitoring ensures that industrial activities continue to occur regardless of the location of the operator while condition monitoring ensures unplanned downtime is reduced.

Industrial cloud

 

The industrial solutions that make remote monitoring possible

Remote and condition monitoring are both subsets of Industrie 4.0 as they ensure industrial automation and data-driven plant optimization. They both rely on the digitalization of the factory floor to function effectively. The industrial solutions used to implement both monitoring processes include both hardware and software solutions.

The IIoT, smart devices, and edge devices are assets that are used to collect data or execute tasks on the shop floor. When condition monitoring is the goal, these data-capturing assets provide the data needed to closely monitor specific machines or operations. When remote monitoring is the goal, however, the data they collect is analyzed to provide insight using an industrial cloud platform. Instructions or data sets are then transmitted back, informing items of hardware to take specific actions.

The inter-exchange of data required for remote monitoring applications also means that unification is required. A unified IT architecture means every asset on the shop floor, including legacy assets, can transfer and receive data communications when required. OPC UA over TSN provides standardization formats that are required to design a unified factory floor, thus enabling the inter-exchange of data that makes remote monitoring possible.

Visualization technologies are also important industrial solutions required to drive machine-to-human communication when monitoring shop-floor assets. Solutions such as web HMIs, industrial smart devices, and industrial visualization software enable data to be visualized through simplified mediums such as graphs.

Industrial cloud platforms and IIoT platforms provide the scalable computing resources required to support data capture, analysis, and transfer. The support that industrial platforms provide includes open APIs to simplify the capture of data from multiple sources and the provision of a platform to develop apps to support Industrie 4.0 strategies.

 

EXOR Edge devices

 

The benefits of remote monitoring

The ability to apply industrial solutions to achieve remote monitoring comes with multiple benefits. In a pandemic, in which reduced staff strength is expected due to social distancing, remote monitoring ensures operators can work remotely without putting themselves at risk.

The visualization technology that supports remote monitoring also provides multiple avenues to apply remote maintenance and repair activities. Machines experiencing functionality issues can be diagnosed by experienced technicians through remote monitoring industrial solutions. Repair and maintenance tasks can also be monitored and managed remotely.

 

Conclusion

The close relationship between condition monitoring and remote monitoring means they are usually applied together to achieve specific goals. This is why, remote condition monitoring exists. Remote condition monitoring merges two abilities: the monitoring of assets and the access operators have to remotely control these assets. Thus, manufacturers can start the digitalization process to achieve condition monitoring and expand its use case to include remote monitoring.