In the digital age, machine operators require 100 percent system availability, but this can be compromised as operators attempt to ensure efficiency while maintaining an emphasis on safety and security.

Automation experts say peace of mind is possible with a combination of demand-oriented maintenance and quick, remotely operational troubleshooting

According to Big Drum Engineering, a machine builder specializing in constructing filling machines for the international ice cream and general food industries, a secure remote service infrastructure can ensure system stability and prevent costly losses for operators.

In the industry, Big Drum says its customers expect a permanent online connection as a prerequisite for better service standards, preventive maintenance and higher security levels.

“Large customers such as Nestlé and Unilever expect us to deliver services in accordance with total productive maintenance [TPM],” says Andreas Itter, sales and marketing manager at Big Drum Engineering. “The demand from other companies has also increased strongly in this area. This requires constant monitoring of the machines, the transmission of key parameters to the machine manufacturer’s headquarters, and ongoing control of data by service technicians.”

Big Drum staffs a 24-hour service department to react to any disturbance. According to the company, it relies on  mGuard, a connectivity solution from Innominate, to secrure online connectivity. Big Drum says the mGuard’s flexible configuration allows the provision of machine and customer-specific services.

According to Big Drum, need-based or demand-oriented, maintenance is on the rise.

As some machine parts are subject to wear, the company says a careful eye is needed to keep watch, along with a constant focus on the servo drives. Monitoring these parts and temperatures can be completed through the use of sensors that work continuously to monitor and transmit results to the manufacturer. An automatic email is sent to the service team with a warning message when irregularities are found.

Big Drum says rising temperatures of the servo motor are an early indication of possible problems due to wear. With a timely inspection of the servo motor, an interruption can be prevented, thus avoiding any downtime of the entire system.

Through a continuous online connection, specialists can access the startup remotely. During the warranty phase, service technicians can handle problems by introducing other optimizations based on the online machine log.

For maximum online monitoring, Big Drum says it uses broadband IP/VPN connections, which are more reliable than previous modem connections. They also cover ever-increasing data volumes and expanded services.

“We have had very good experiences with the mGuard solution,” Itter says, highlighting the system’s reliability.

“The remote service further increased system availability, and we were able to reduce fault-clearance times by 70 percent,” Itter says. “With access to remote data, not only can we troubleshoot faster, our services are significantly less expensive for our customers due to the elimination of travel costs.”