Does it feel like sometimes you are caught between spending a fortune to get someone on site to maintain and service equipment and not being able to get anyone at all? There are a host of changes that have occurred over the years in the automation field that have led to this problem. The good news is there are some modern solutions that can help get you past this and become more in control of your own situation.
In many cases the lack of automation professionals directly employed by the factory has led to outsourcing automation needs. In some cases, one or a few engineers or technicians with the right capabilities are overrun by the demands of the plant. In other cases, there are limited automation capabilities and the plant relies on the machine builder or systems integrator when service is required. The problem is that the integrator or machine builder might be one or more states away. Worse, they are not waiting on your call, they have other work they are doing. The result is service seems slow and prices seem high because of the travel requirements.
One potential solution is to plan ahead and establish a remote access plan for your machine builders and integrators. Remote access can address the cost of travel to sight and, because the travel does not need to be planned, it often means the integrator can look at and address something quickly. Many customers we work with establish this remote access via corporate VPN (virtual private network) access. At first this solution usually works okay but it often falls apart for a variety of reasons. Automatic password changes, accounts closing after a certain period of time, antivirus software mismatches, and inability to connect directly to controllers and HMI’s have all been first hand problems for us over the years. We much prefer a hardware approach that provides us access to the PLC’s and HMI’s in addition to SCADA computers and other software platforms.
The MB Connect Line Mini is an inexpensive device that connects the automation equipment securely through the plant network so that password protected remote access can be had by integrators and machine builders. Better still, as the owner of the equipment it is simple to turn off the remote access and turn it on only when you want your suppliers to remote in. If you want to learn more about how it works contact us or go check out their webpage. It is the simplest and most secure form of remote access that we have found in the market.