In recent years, remote monitoring has transformed the manufacturing industry, driving cost benefits, and creating new standards of efficiency that resonate from the factory floor to the customer’s door.
What is Remote Monitoring?
Leveraging IoT devices and AI-enabled reporting platforms, organizations are now able to do more with less, maximizing resources and setting new standards of machine efficiency that result in cost savings throughout the supply chain.
Remote monitoring is essential in today’s competitive landscape. It optimizes machine function, extends uptime, and eliminates losses from downtime, one of the biggest threats to profitability.
How Remote Monitoring Works
Remote monitoring leverages a tech stack based on the industrial internet of things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI).
IoT sensors monitor machine operation and productivity, sending data to the AI platform, which then analyzes the information. Personnel can access real-time data on machine function at any time. They also receive detailed reports that inform them as to how their machines are performing over time, including data on whether a breakdown is imminent.
The AI system also makes predictions as to when a breakdown is likely to occur, helping to reduce unnecessary downtime, maximizing machine uptime, and optimizing maintenance resources.
Benefits of Remote Monitoring
Before remote monitoring, machines simply sounded an alarm when they failed. At that point, factory floor managers were dispatched to confirm the problem. Then, technicians were called in to diagnose and troubleshoot, parts were ordered, and the repair was scheduled. In the meantime, work-arounds were put into place so that productivity could be maintained to whatever extent was possible – and it wasn’t always possible.
Today’s remote monitoring improves on this model, making the process more predictable and efficient.
Here are a few of the benefits manufacturers gain with remote monitoring:
1. Remote Monitoring Reduces Costs
Remote monitoring reduces costs in many areas throughout the organization, but most notably in labor and maintenance.
Since machines are monitored remotely, fewer workers are required to keep everything running at peak levels. Stakeholders also have complete visibility into production levels and machine efficiency, helping them make accurate real-time decisions.
2. Remote Monitoring Enables Predictive Maintenance
Over time, the AI system gathers enough data that it can predict at what intervals a machine or part is likely to fail. Remote monitoring helps companies recognize the events that precede a breakdown, enabling proactive repairs and maintenance that help them avoid costly downtime.
3. Remote Monitoring Maximizes Machine Uptime
Companies waste a lot of money on unnecessary machine maintenance. Though pre-scheduled maintenance is not a bad thing in itself, taking a machine offline when it is still working well is not always the most efficient approach.
Remote monitoring helps manufacturers keep machines running at capacity.
4. Remote Monitoring Accurately Predicts Machine or Part Failure
When a machine breaks down, all resources are directed towards getting it fixed and back up to speed. Technicians are sent out to diagnose the problem, parts are ordered, and production slows until the repairs are completed.
When a breakdown or slowdown can be triaged and diagnosed remotely, organizations enable end-to-end efficiencies and eliminate the need for multiple service calls and repairs.
5. Remote Monitoring Removes the Middle-Man
In many cases, the need for management or employee intervention is eliminated entirely. When a failure is imminent, the monitoring system can communicate directly with service teams, ensuring an expedient repair or service process.
6. Remote Monitoring Reduces Service Calls
When remote monitoring is enabled, repair and service tasks are reduced by a significant margin. Personnel can monitor and troubleshoot issues on the fly, often resolving situations before they reach a breakdown state.
Going Remote: How Global Companies Stay Lean and Compliant, Even at a Distance
An ongoing issue with globally owned and operated companies is the lack of visibility into daily processes. In high-compliance industries, such as food products and energy, it is of utmost importance to ensure safety, reliability, and viability, both of the products themselves and the processes used to create them.
Companies that run initiatives in remote locations are especially challenged, adding to maintenance costs, and affecting visibility into their systems.
Remote monitoring solves this dilemma by supplying access to real-time alerts and data and enabling on-the-spot mitigation, often without missing a beat. When data is required to verify compliance, it is readily and instantly available when needed, minimizing production delays, and ensuring work carries on as expected.
Case Study: Saunders Electric
Very recently completed a project with Saunders Electric, a company that provides portable power solutions for Hollywood productions. Their work includes some of the most well-known Hollywood live television broadcasts you’ve ever seen, including the Academy Awards.
Although Saunders had the technology to monitor inputs and outputs locally, they had no way to view the data differently or to monitor their systems remotely, which really limited their capabilities – and their growth potential. They needed a way to modernize the way their systems ran without changing the core technology, something that would be easy to manage and give them more control.
Our task was to create a remote monitoring system that leveraged their existing infrastructure and interfaces, something that would allow Saunders’ operators to monitor the quality and strength of their connections.
Having visibility into this data provided the company with benefits that include accurate real-time insights into the quality of their service, the strength of their connections, and the total power used at any given time. Operators receive alerts when the power levels are outside of the acceptable range, and all data factors into analytics that allow for accurate reporting and predictive analysis.
Essentially, there were two aspects to the solution architecture, one local and one remote. We created a custom dashboard for local operators and a centrally-managed cloud platform for remote access and reporting.
With these efficiencies applied, Saunders gained new capabilities, not the least of which was the ability to more easily illustrate to new and potential clients exactly how their system works.
Without making any changes to the way they delivered their product, our custom remote monitoring solution helped moved Saunders Electric into a new era, one they will likely continue to dominate for generations to come.
Remote Monitoring-As-A-Service: Adding Value With Real-Time Data Visibility
Much like Saunders Electric, most industries will find tremendous value in remote monitoring. With real-time data at your fingertips, it opens a world of possibilities and illuminates patterns that help businesses improve. These insights support improvements in areas that include customer service, machine operation, maintenance, and predictive analysis.
However, not every manufacturer has the bandwidth to manage and monitor all their systems efficiently. Most legacy systems operate on a closed network, and there is no impetus on the part of the organization to take their systems online as it opens them up to security concerns and, possibly, an IT burden that is not in their wheelhouse.
SaaS remote monitoring platform architecture addresses these issues. Systems are configured to circumvent the internal network and interface with machine IoT sensors that allow companies to access the benefits of remote monitoring and still use their existing machines. This solution helps in many ways as it removes perceived barriers to modernization, providing access to next-generation efficiencies that help them compete with the disruptors in their space.
Machine manufacturers who add remote monitoring capabilities to their repertoire of services offer added value for their customers and create the potential for a new income stream based on that capability. With access to immediate, and often touch-free maintenance, even small companies can advance and become profitable more quickly. When their employees don’t have to worry about machine operation, maintenance, or efficiency optimization, they can focus on higher-level work, such as building new business or delighting their existing customers.
More Gains Made Possible With Remote Monitoring
Companies that leverage remote monitoring can guarantee customer service excellence, building brand confidence and increasing market share.
Whether you are an internet service provider, a telecom company, an energy provider, a live broadcaster, a social network, or a medical device manufacturer, the ability to monitor and manage your network and customers remotely is what will set you apart from the rest. When you can predict problems, respond in real-time, and reduce or eliminate downtime, customer satisfaction improves, and profitability ensues.
Global companies with multiple outlets and vast infrastructures can gain visibility into the totality of their operations, ensuring consistent service delivery across all markets, no matter where they are in the world.
Remote monitoring is also a great way for OEMs to get started with IoT. Once the infrastructure is established, new IoT capabilities can be added. The data they collect from their customers can then be used to enhance and improve the capabilities of their machines to ensure their ability to compete. The connected system can then be used to push out these updates and improvements, offering customers a seamless experience they will come to depend on.
In conclusion, remote monitoring is revolutionizing the way many manufacturers and service providers do business. It provides a platform that enables new efficiencies and a vehicle that drives future growth and innovation.