Productivity in manufacturing is largely determined by the efficiency of the production machines and systems being used. Economic efficiency is only achieved when production capacity is being optimally utilised. This requires a wide variety of machine parameters to be acquired and then analysed. As part of the digitalisation of production and the ever-increasing connectivity of machines and systems, new approaches are being developed to optimise the "smart factory's" productivity.
Remote monitoring and remote maintenance, along with condition monitoring and process monitoring, are among digital opportunities to make manufacturing processes leaner, more efficient and more reliable. Delphin Technology is supporting the digital revolution in industry with intelligent, powerful solutions enabling remote monitoring and maintenance in production without requiring existing control and automation hardware to be replaced.
Remote monitoring means having the option, regardless of location, of monitoring, controlling and adjusting manufacturing processes on a machine in real time. Production processes include the work steps involved in a production order as well as the condition of machinery and material flows within a production line. Remote monitoring is based on hardware and software solutions that have been specially adapted to the needs of the industry. Hardware components installed directly on the machines, IoT devices and edge solutions and software-based platforms and the cloud all interact optimally to acquire, record and analyse data directly from production. When interventions in production are required, they can often be carried out without requiring the presence of an operator directly at the plant or machinery.
To ensure that machinery and systems remain available, existing faults need to be quickly repaired – or the faults need to be prevented from occurring in the first place. Remote maintenance is a remote service in which technicians can access plant and machinery requiring maintenance via the internet. The plant and machinery use sensors to acquire detailed data that can be used for quick error diagnostics during remote maintenance. If settings are incorrect, they can be corrected via remote access or by giving instructions to machine operators. Many machine manufacturers now provide remote maintenance as a service. Manufacturer settings in the controls can then be adjusted and optimised without on-site visits by technicians which can be expensive, time-consuming and disruptive to production. Companies such as Delphin Technology support plant manufacturers in implementing remote maintenance solutions within their products.
Whatever the machinery or equipment used and whatever the manufacturing processes, remote monitoring works in practice by combining:
- Data loggers
- Data storage (server or cloud)
- Pooling data
- Using software to process and visually display the data obtained
Remote monitoring begins with the acquisition of measured values in the area of work and on the motors or axles of a production machine. Different sensors are therefore installed to record parameters such as temperatures, pressures, oscillations, vibrations and rpms. It is also common to obtain measurement data from the PLC or CNC systems used – no additional sensors are required here. The collected measurements are then forwarded to a data logger. Electronic data loggers such as the Loggito Logger from Delphin Technology collect and record the measurements transmitted by the sensors.
Data loggers convert the physical measurements into data records and forward them to a server or cloud. The process of converting, forwarding and processing measurements from the analogue world for digital use is called DAQ – Data Acquisition. In industry, specialised DAQ software solutions such as the Delphin Data Center from Delphin Technology enable reliable, high-precision and loss-free merging and processing of a wide variety of data types. Data stored on a server or cloud is then automatically prepared for analysis and visualisation requirements. Regardless of location and with customisable visualisation options, you can visualise detailed production processes, operating states as well as sources of error.
Many production companies are using plant and machinery that have not been designed to connect to the IoT. The average life cycle of a machine is 25 to 30 years. A lot of technology from the 1990s or early 2000s is still in use in Germany, such as lathes, milling machines, injection moulding equipment and wind turbines. Some industrial plants equipped with PLC control systems also lack the option of remote maintenance. Such plant and machinery do not have manufacturer interfaces to enable data transfer, and the control systems used are only rarely equipped for remote maintenance or remote monitoring. Despite this situation, older plant and machinery can still be monitored – without requiring existing control and automation hardware to be replaced, and without extensive downtimes in production or retrofitting by manufacturers.
Delphin products enable even older plant and machinery to be used for modern, digital remote monitoring and maintenance. Delphin systems are highly compatible and developed according to the specific needs of each company to enable easy integration into existing structures. Compact and flexible data loggers such as the Loggito series enable cost-effective connectivity of all measuring points, low-channel data logging as well as advanced measurement data acquisition and monitoring along an entire production line. Universal measurement inputs for a wide range of sensor types, a high degree of flexibility and scalability through customised options, and options for almost infinite expansion enable Delphin Technology's solutions to monitor decentralised, dispersed manufacturing systems, provide mobile, location-independent access to all recorded parameters and, of course, ergonomic, user-friendly operability.
Acquiring and analysing machine data from networked production systems enables companies to gain real-time insights into ongoing production. Modern software solutions create customised dashboards on which all the required parameters can be displayed such as rpm, engine temperatures, pressures, oscillations, vibrations and coolant levels. Software such as ProfiSignal 20 from Delphin enables monitoring from any location, for small or large amounts of data, and completely platform-independent. Depending on the working environment, measurement values from production are easy to access using any standard browser without requiring any client software to be installed. The software fully automatically performs visualisation of the data and combines key data on a dashboard according to specific user needs and individual settings.
Benefits of remote monitoring for industry:
- Worldwide and real-time access to ongoing production
- Remote monitoring of a machine's workspace
- Automated adaptation to production processes
- Centralised alarm management with a wide range of messaging options
- Basis for achieving the smart factory, e.g. for condition monitoring or predictive maintenance
Benefits of remote maintenance for industry:
- Saves costly and time-consuming on-site visits by service technicians
- Enables quick fault diagnosis via the internet by manufacturers or technicians
- Updates, new machine cycles or control parameters can be uploaded directly without requiring lengthy interruptions to production
In existing installations, where extra cabling is to be avoided or Ethernet cables cannot be installed, remote monitoring or maintenance via WLAN is required.
The right hardware then becomes crucial. Delphin data loggers and controllers enable decentrally distributed measuring and control points to be easily connected via WLAN.
Small-scale facilities such as pumping stations, photovoltaic plants and measuring stations often lack communications infrastructure such as landlines or cable internet. In such cases, remote maintenance via the 4G mobile network is an option by using current LTE or 4G bandwidths in combination with reliable routers.
Delphin provides the perfect solution with hardware and software to enable cost-effective and reliable decentralised monitoring and maintenance. Existing Delphin hardware and software can also be extended.
In industry, internal company data is the key to success whether it concerns NC programmes, production cycles or the chemical composition of products. Under no circumstances should confidential company information fall into the hands of third parties. Consequently, there is considerable concern about connecting machines and systems with each other and, above all, with access to the internet. The smart factory presents new challenges regarding industrial espionage, cybercrime or just carelessness on the part of the operating teams when handling internal data.
Delphin Technology uses data encryption such as SSL for secure data transmission in combination with VPN tunnels to provide significantly increased data security. Further safety mechanisms can also be incorporated into remote monitoring and remote maintenance. For example, in the event of a possible cyber attack, these prevent systems from being remotely controlled without authorisation.
Delphin Technology also uses the state-of-the-art, platform-neutral and secure communication standard OPC UA. OPC UA is regarded on the German and European market as a future-proof industrial protocol that works just as well on small controllers as on the largest enterprise servers, regardless of the transmission layer. OPC UA eliminates the need for manufacturer-specific, proprietary protocols and enables high-speed data exchange with a single protocol in networks and application layers. IT security is specified as a separate security layer within the OPC UA standard. Rules and mechanisms specific to a company can then be defined on how devices, machines and services authenticate themselves or how data is encrypted. Secured sessions between an OPC UA client and the server or auditing services can also be implemented with the protocol.
Remote maintenance or remote monitoring in industrial environments can be provided safely and securely. Just contact us – we will be happy to advise you in a one-on-one meeting about the options Delphin Technology offers to ensure secure data exchange.
Delphin Technology products enable continuous monitoring of any type of highly complex facility. Centralised measurement data management also enables reliable monitoring of sewage treatment plants, pumping stations, wind turbines and offshore drilling platforms. To optimally meet the high demands in the chemical, pharmaceutical and energy technology sectors, Delphin Technology is a single-source supplier of complete solutions comprising hardware, software, engineering, commissioning and training. These products are further supported by customised application developments, connectivity to higher-level systems such as LIMS, safety control technology and tamper-proof measurement data acquisition. Delphin solutions deliver many benefits:
- High-speed data acquisition, also from large numbers of channels
- Multi-channel measurements of energy processes
- Multiple fieldbuses for easy connectivity to control systems
- Effective evaluations also over extended periods by using long-term, stable databases
- Autarchic data storage for stand-alone operation
- Precision sequence-of-events analyses
- Access to data from anywhere in the world
Do you want to find out more about the opportunities provided by Delphin Technology products for remote monitoring and remote maintenance in industrial environments? Or do you want to discuss a specific project with our experts? Then call us now and arrange a personal consultation.