Industrial Automation / Manufacturing
Industrial Automation: M2M for more Efficient Production
M2M solutions for remote monitoring and control of machines lead to a marked increase in efficiency in industrial automation. Thanks to M2M, companies retain control over machinery and equipment even if it is in use on the other side of the world.
A special module with an M2M SIM card stores the data supplied by the machine and sends it encrypted to the cloud via the mobile network. An online portal shows error messages, runtimes and consumption in real time on a PC or a tablet, making an early response to malfunctions possible, as well as reducing downtimes. Thanks to progress in sensor technology and falling prices for mobile data connections and modules, M2M solutions of this kind are now also well affordable for small and midrange enterprises.
Manufacturing: M2M machine monitoring for greater efficiency
For industrial automation machine maintenance is indispensable if the production chain is to run smoothly. M2M solutions provide manufacturers with machine data via the mobile network, enabling them to plan maintenance schedules precisely and to prevent downtime.
Engineering manufacturers can equip their plants and equipment with special M2M modules incorporating a gateway and an M2M SIM card. These modules read sensor and measurement data in real time and send it encrypted to a secure cloud data center via the mobile network. Technicians then access the processed data from an online portal on their PCs. The portal facilitates centralized access for different types of equipment which can be found at a factory.
Thanks to falling prices of sensors, modules and data tariffs, M2M solutions of this kind are now a worthwhile investment for small and midrange enterprises. The cost is usually based on the number of connected devices (pay as you use). Machines do not need to be retrofitted. Even older plants can be integrated in an M2M system.
More efficient deployment of service personnel
The advantages of web-based remote access are especially apparent when it comes to plant maintenance and the provision of input materials. Until now the machine’s manufacturer has sent a service technician to the factory at specified intervals to carry out routine maintenance. For several plants that may be located in different countries this involves a high cost and time outlay. In the event of faults the technician must be sent out again. If the manufacturer can see the relevant information about the state of the machine at any time and in real time, they will see when, depending on operating time or performance, the next maintenance is due and where parts that are subject to wear and tear are likely to need replacing. Service personnel can then be deployed in a more targeted and efficient manner.
If faults are identified at an early stage, plant outages can be reduced or avoided altogether. The M2M module reports faults automatically to the manufacturer, who can then often remedy them remotely. Software updates can also be installed remotely. In addition to monitoring devices, tracking devices can be used for mobile machines to monitor the device’s position and prevent misuse or theft. Other factors such as operating temperature, pressures and filling levels can also be monitored and displayed online.
M2M monitoring as a new service offering
The manufacturer can also provide the factory with individual access to data so that it can, for example, monitor consumption or respond fast on-site if the machine needs fresh consumables. A mobile communications connection does not require any additional IT integration at the customer’s premises. The online portal in the cloud can be accessed and used from every PC or tablet. Alternatively, the M2M module’s measurement data can be transferred to an in-house IT system via an interface. Machinery and plant manufacturers thereby gain potential for offering their customers new services. The M2M system remains flexible and scalable. Additional machines can be connected at any time.