Smart New Service World
Today, production takes place in every part of the world and the complexity of the engaged industrial plants and machines increases with breathtaking speed. Simultaneously, the demand for high availability of all machines in the production process rises to fulfil the expectation of efficiency and optimal consumption of resources. Therefore, a 24/7 service for all components within the production process parallel to minimal allocation of resources, is the dream of all plant operators and mechanical engineers.
In the past, system failures were often due to mechanical breakdowns but nowadays more and more problems occur from the underlying electronic and software components. However, this can be seen as an opportunity since the electronic parts and software results in easier controlling, more flexibility and faster adaption of the process. All this can also be enabled without the physical presence of a service technician in front of the machine.
Modern remote service platforms provide a secure access to the machine via the global Internet. Based on the interconnection of all systems, the surveillance of the machines is comfortable and the service can be carried out online, on demand and with 100 % monitoring. With a central service platform that is accessible for both the customer and the service technician, the service task is carried out transparently with full control by the customer. If a system failure occurs, the customer simply connects the machine via the internet and the service technician receives a timelimited access to the PLCs, web-cams or other IP components.
Easy and secure: contacting the service via fingertip via remote internet service.
From service to quality: collect your data online and automatically.
Attacks from outside can be prevented and unauthorized intrusions can be quickly detected based on combined ciphering methods, applying secure network protocols and centralization of the remote access control.
The security risks can be reduced to a minimum by implementing specially designed industrial PCs for the online connection of the machine to the segment and secure the machine network against other network participants. Thanks to newest standards of internet provider technology such as 3G or WiFi, even very isolated systems like gas- and oil-exploration pipelines can be securely connected to the worldwide data network.
Through centralized service solutions, all service workflows can be fulfilled with standardized sequences and recorded and documented chronologically. The system can be quickly repaired via the secure remote connection, transferred to a safe state or be adapted to new situations. Even the local machine operator can be supported with a remote access to the control panel and, furthermore, the remote access can be used to engage cameras to recognize mechanical or other problems in real-time.
By gathering machine information such as images, manuals, technical drawings or software releases in a special “machine file”, the technician can deliver a professional and reliable service throughout the world. The documentation of all necessary information around the defective system is constantly accessible and available online.
Recording errors, retrofittings and other events in the online service file provide the possibility to evaluate historical data via database filtering. This helps to prevent failures in future and to improve the overall performance.
Even condition-based maintenance can be implemented with an online service portal as the machine can send its operating status or operating numbers (such as operating hours, cycles etc.) through a secure network. This information is collected on a server for proactive maintenance planning for optimal maintenance workflow. At this point the skills of the plant operator who can maintain the machine for himself and the service abilities of the machine constructor can be integrated.
The next big thing will be “industry 4.0”, a project in the high-tech strategy of the German government, which promotes the computerization of traditional industries. In this context, ideas are born where the machine demands its own maintenance. With complete condition monitoring, a deviation from the optimal operating state can be detected and signalled to the service portal and maintenance personnel is informed immediately so that they can remove the problem.
In future, the service will be smarter; smart-phones or Tablet-PC’s provide amazing capabilities and mobile solutions will boost the service technicians’ knowledge and skills. Information can easily be gathered with a web browser, spare parts can be identified by barcodes and the field service can be improved by route planning. The plant operator can take pictures with a smart-phone for online documentation of the service and even virtual reality can be established by “implanting” 3D views of repairing workflows on the real machine view.
As an outlook, I want to complete a citation from Dr. Tony Alessandra, which I found on the internet: “Being on par in terms of price and quality only gets you into the game. Service wins the game”, with the assumption “Smart service wins the game”.