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Why You Need Remote Access in Industrial Manufacturing

Remote access technology for industrial machines is the one proven and sustainable way to keep all equipment in check while minimizing costs and allocating human resources effectively.  Thanks to remote access in industrial settings, manufacturers monitor and control machines securely over the internet. And support teams jump in instantaneously, no matter where an issue occurs. With remote troubleshooting, software testing, and updates on remote devices, companies are best equipped to reap the benefits of new forms of efficiency and sustainably scale out. 

Securing remote access to industrial equipment is an important milestone on the way to full digitalization. More than ever before, companies are pressed to keep up with emergency management solutions, adapt to changing industry needs, or simply keep operations up and running. In such settings, it is crucial to maintain high uptime, minimize downtime, and preclude any machine errors – even in scenarios where it is not always feasible to send maintenance staff on-site. 

This is where remote access solutions become indispensable to smooth operations. And in most cases, a quick setup and a few clicks can bring an instant return on investment.

Here is a quick breakdown of what companies gain by implementing remote access solutions:

  • Secure global connection, anywhere and at any time. This grants service staff unparalleled flexibility and eliminates the need for trips to remote locations or on-site presence. 
  • Faster error detection and issue resolution. To detect and resolve issues, service staff now only need to log in and access the device, run a diagnostic, and perform the necessary actions to fix the issue. 
  • High-efficiency, proactive support. Operational efficiency also gets a boost with better support and faster reaction times where all software upgrades and updates take place remotely, at the click of a button. 
  • Easy device lifecycle management. From device setup all the way to decommissioning, companies are now better equipped to carry out all necessary maintenance operations remotely and cut costs along the way. 

What Is Remote Access and How Does It Work?

Remote access in industrial settings means securely connecting and performing actions on any PLC, IPC, sensor, or piece of legacy machinery, from anywhere, at any time. This is how you monitor machine metrics, control machine behavior, test new software and perform regular updates over the air without having to send an employee on-site to go through any of the usual maintenance checks. 

The ease of access, coupled with the ability to respond quickly to anomalous machine behavior or any outliers, is the path to an unparalleled user experience.

How does remote access work? You only need three basic components: 

  1. A globally accessible browser-based IoT platform to manage the various connectivity aspects and device states from one central location. Read more about our platform here
  2. A flashing software to establish the connection, e.g. the Record Evolution Reflasher, a cross-platform desktop application that helps you create bootable configured flash drives ready to use on any device. Download the Reflasher here and explore the related documentation.
  3. Any Docker-capable device that can serve as an edge gateway; PLCs, IPCs, and similar industrial equipment are typical examples. See a list of devices here.

In sum, to connect devices and get started on your remote access journey, all you need is an internet connection and a Docker-capable device. With the IoT studio by Record Evolution, you already have the entire infrastructure allowing you to securely and easily connect to devices in just a few clicks. 

You connect devices using any communication protocol and your local wireless network. A secure connection to the device is guaranteed by device tunneling. This allows applications that provide a graphical user interface (GUI) on the device to be opened remotely while adhering to the highest security standards. Find out more about our tunneling concept in the product documentation.

What Comes After Remote Access 

Remote access is just the beginning. Once connectivity has been established, you are well on your way to collecting data from PLCs, IPCs, sensors, and other industrial machines using any industrial protocol. The IoT data is ingested in real-time. This ease of access allows you to create industrial IoT cases in just a couple of minutes with the help of the platform’s reusable IoT building blocks. 

Taking it from there, you are ready to do any of the following:

  • quickly scale to multiple connected devices
  • read out device data
  • access device parameters
  • install software on any industrial device
  • monitor and control processes
  • visualize your chosen KPIs in custom dashboards
  • test new software on devices without interrupting ongoing processes
  • troubleshoot devices
  • schedule and automate maintenance checks
  • roll out device updates over the air

The IoT studio’s device management functionalities help you remain on top of complexity so that each and every connected device is fully visible. Thanks to device grouping and tagging options, engineering staff can easily configure groups of devices sharing the same characteristics, perform mass software rollouts and updates, or create device subgroups within an existing group to test new ML models without causing disruptions.

The Benefits at a Glance

So why is this significant? For one thing, this is not simply an effective way to save time and cut costs, but also a way to engage employees in more sophisticated machine support. By eliminating the need for tedious manual checkups and other routine tasks, employees can now focus on truly challenging device maintenance jobs. 

Here is a breakdown of the most typical scenarios where remote access sets the ground for a sustainable IoT case that brings instant ROI:

  • reduced travel time and time spent on-site
  • faster issue resolution and reduced fix rates leading to improved machine uptime
  • fewer anomalies leading to a significant drop in downtime 
  • routine monitoring & maintenance jobs are now taken over by edge apps
  • collaboration enablement by involving remote experts and off-site staff
  • increased use of automation: machine state notifications, scheduling tasks, etc.
  • easy updates of edge apps and project versions
  • industry experts can focus on sophisticated tasks and innovation
  • increased customer support capabilities
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About Record Evolution

We are a data science and IoT team based in Frankfurt, Germany, that helps companies of all sizes innovate at scale. That’s why we’ve developed an easy-to-use industrial IoT platform that enables fast development cycles and allows everyone to benefit from the possibilities of IoT and AI.