Due to increasing market demand, maintenance and service technicians of today are constantly on the move, monitoring multiple machines and potentially, multiple facilities. Couple this with workers not allowed entry into factories, monitoring machinery performance is more important than ever before. Here, Lee Sullivan, Regional Manager at industrial software specialist COPA-DATA UK, explains how engineers can monitor machinery performance on the move .

Mobile monitoring and alerts

Traditionally, it would have been impossible to monitor the performance of equipment without positioning a technician beside every machine in a plant. However, modern automation software makes it possible to visualise machine performance and gain an oversight of the entire factory floor. That said, today’s production engineers want to monitor their machine performance at all times — inside and outside of the factory walls.

Using mobile monitoring solutions, every machine can be tracked and monitored and the relevant maintenance team, or individual technician, can have constant access to data, regardless of where they are located.

The ability to remotely monitor machine performance can identify opportunities to improve efficiencies and production. However, it is also vital for technicians and engineers to be able to react quickly to unexpected issues and minimise any unplanned downtime if a machine were to break down or show any signs of failure.  

Operational awareness

Maintaining awareness of how a machine is performing and also its health is important to modern day manufacturing plants that want to improve their efficiency and drive down costs. Meeting production deadlines and being more efficient in production ensures customer satisfaction. Using mobile solutions that constantly monitor machinery against your production schedule and KPI’s, manufactuing teams will be aware of progress and potential production delays will be highlighted in real-time.

This production insight also widens the operational awareness across teams and departments. For instance, quality control teams are often detached from manufacturing operations and are only made aware of production issues at the end of the process. By enabling key members of this team to gain mobile access to production data, all departments will be kept up-to-date from the start, resulting in less waste and more control.

Lean manufacturing and predictive maintenance

Unexpected downtime can cost millions in lost revenue. In fact, for the automotive industry, a break in production is estimated to cost $22,000 per minute.  It is impossible to prevent all incidences of unexpected downtime. However, by opening up mobile monitoring solutions, with real-time production data, to the entire team, the time it takes to identify performance issues and fix the problem, is reduced.

The software can remotley monitor the essential elements of the value stream and feed this data directly to the mobile of an engineer. The system can then provide alerts should any part of the facility show signs of effecting the OEE. An example of this would be by predicting the required maintenance of production equipment, this way unplanned downtime can be avoided.

COPA-DATA’s zenon, for example, provides emergency alerts that are sent by text message or email, ensuring that the right information gets to the right person, as soon as possible. Hierarchical alerts also mean that if an alert is sent out and not responded to using the required code, the alert is escalated to the next person defined in the communication chain. This way, issues can’t go unnoticed. 

The range of zenon mobile solutions modules can be added as a stand-alone client, a web client or a mobile phone viewer, at any time, even after the initial installation of zenon. The mobile phone viewer opens up remote monitoring to those who need to know the details of machinery status and productivity levels at all times.

The future

Remote monitoring and alert systems are only the beginning of what we should expect from the future of a SMART factory with respects to monitoring and management. Streamlining communication between teams, individuals and even between machines and maintenance technicians is proving essential to supporting machine ergonomics and ultimatley, efficient factory operations.

Technicians no longer need to be positioned directly beside their designated machine to understand exactly how their machinery is performing.  Using mobile solutions, maintenance teams will never be left in the dark.

On COPA-DATA

COPA-DATA is the technological leader for ergonomic and highly dynamic process solutions. The company, founded in 1987, develops the software zenon for HMI/SCADA, Dynamic Production Reporting and integrated PLC systems at its headquarters in Austria. zenon is sold through its own offices in Europe, North America and Asia, as well as partners and distributors throughout the world. Customers benefit from local contact persons and local support thanks to a decentralised corporate structure. As an independent company, COPA-DATA can act quickly and flexibly, continues to set new standards in functionality and ease of use and leads the market trends. Over 100,000 installed systems in more than 90 countries provide companies in the Food & Beverage, Energy & Infrastructure, Automotive and Pharmaceutical sectors with new scope for efficient automation.

On zenon zenon is a software system from COPA-DATA for industrial automation and the energy industry. Machines and equipment are controlled, monitored and optimized. zenon’s particular strength is open and reliable communication in heterogeneous production facilities. Open interfaces and over 300 native drivers and communication protocols support the horizontal and vertical integration. This allows for continuous implementation of the Industrial IoT and the Smart Factory. Projects with zenon are highly scalable.
zenon is ergonomic, both for the engineer and for the end user. The engineering environment is flexible and can be used for a wide range of applications. The principle of “setting parameters instead of programming” helps engineers to configure projects quickly and without errors. Complex functions for comprehensive projects are supplied out-of-the-box to create intuitive and robust applications. Users can thereby contribute to increased flexibility and efficiency with zenon.