This article covers:
- What Is Meant by Remote Service?
- The Key Benefits of Remote Service
- What Industries Are Using It?
- What Does It Take to Implement?
In this article, we will cover what is meant by remote service. Readers can utilize this article, to learn more about what the concept of remote service in the IoT context, involves.
What is Meant by Remote Service?
Remote service in the standard context refers to a technician using software/hardware to access a client’s devices offsite, in order to provide maintenance and support. These services could include installing updates, security patches or troubleshooting other issues.
An example of where this type of service is employed in the factory context, is when software from the ERP and MES systems are upgraded remotely. Utilizing remote access and services for standard IT related queries is fairly commonplace. All an offsite technician needs, in order to perform remote service is an internet connection, and remote access software installed on both the technician’s device and the client’s device.
Remote Service in the IoT context
The IoT context consists of many interconnected devices and systems producing data, and this data being sent to the cloud for analysis. IoT platforms are synonymous with big data and real-time insights.
A key issue in the IoT factory context is security, since large amounts of data about processes and operations are being generated and transmitted by the sensors, actuators and other interconnected devices. Data breaches are costly and have the potential to disrupt the whole system since they can damage actual machinery as well. Additionally, IoT platforms often analyze customer behavior and patterns, and this data if leaked can result in a loss of profits for the business at hand. Consequently, integrated remote access, service and monitoring enables technology providers to not only secure data transmission but also to receive real-time notification about data breaches as they occur and quickly address the situation.
Remote service and monitoring in the IoT context is not only associated with data security but also predictive maintenance and control of machines/operations on the factory floor. For example, using a smartphone or PC, support engineers that are not onsite can respond to alerts that have been generated to control valves, switches and machine settings remotely.
Furthermore, there are two types of remote service support options available. The first occurs after a fault is noted and the remote service technician is contacted and resolves the issue remotely. The second is more active and occurs through the integrated active monitoring of the system, via IoT platforms and as soon as an issue is detected, it is resolved immediately remotely.
The idea of remote service fits in well with Industry 4.0 objectives since it promotes the use of integrated technology in real-time, in order to perform traditional maintenance operations. These operations in the past would have been performed by technicians via an onsite visit, and only after the fault occurred.
One key consideration to keep in mind is that there is still a need for a robust industrial cloud that can store the data generated by the factory and that remote service support engineers can access for real-time monitoring or analysis of operations.
The Key Benefits of Remote Service
Ease of Accessibility
One of the key benefits of remote service support is that factories situated in remote, difficult to reach locations can still access advanced level support for their systems/machines/PCs.
No travelling Expenses
The overall cost of remote services is less because travelling expenses are not incurred. Diagnostic analysis of a problem and the resolution can take place remotely, which would have in the past, involved multiple site visits.
Another benefit of remote services is immediate access and availability. The maintenance operations are not limited to the working day since a technician from another part of the world in another time zone can address an issue.
In terms of plants and factories, it may sometimes be difficult or dangerous for a support engineer to access a certain machine. If this machine needs maintenance and/or repairs and is connected to an IoT platform, then the support engineer does not have to go directly to the machine, instead they can manipulate the machine from their HMI / smart phone. This contributes to increased safety onsite.
Access to a large skill set
The remote access service allows factory owners to access a large skill set. For example, if a machine operator cannot solve a problem with a machine on the factory floor, they can use the remote service option to access or collaborate with an expert who can.
Multiple devices can be managed from a remote location
Remote services in the IoT context allows multiple devices to be managed, configured and/or upgraded simultaneously. If a technician had to visit the site and individually install upgrades on each machine, this would result in costly time delays.
The Industries That Are Using It
Many industries have utilized some form of standard remote service maintenance for their PCs/networks. In terms of the manufacturing industry – companies in the power and water sectors are using remote service and access in order to repair machinery that is situated in difficult to reach places.
What Does It Take to Implement?
A factory owner wanting to implement remote services for a “smart” factory should firstly consider all the machines, sensors, HMIs, PCs and systems in the factory that they want to be monitored and remotely managed. Also, this factory owner should consider the level of remote management that they would like to implement. For example, do they just want troubleshooting, or do they want to monitor all the machinery, and systems on the factory floor proactively and remotely. Once the factory owner has decided on the level of remote management they require, they should consult with a technology provider. Additionally, they should take note of older machinery that may need to be outfitted with additional sensors or software in order to be part of the IoT platform and benefit from the real-time remote service options.
Furthermore, the remote service should work across platforms and use open standards so that Windows devices, Linux devices, other operating systems and embedded systems in the factory can be remotely managed/repaired.
As more and more devices are connected to IoT platforms, there will be an increased need for remote service options. Since factory owners may not always have the resources or needed skills onsite to deal with maintenance or repair issues. In addition, either the machines or the factories themselves maybe situated in hard to reach places in which case remote services are critical. Factory owners are advised to integrate remote service options into their existing IoT platforms in order to prevent costly down-time and secure their data proactively.