Before the advent of Industry 4.0, the service technicians used to drive to customers to maintain or repair machinery and equipment while often following a route that is dependent on a defined preventive maintenance schedule.
The prevalence of Industry 4.0 in manufacturing and production could possibly change that as it allows setting up secure remote access to distributed assets. This can help machine and equipment manufacturers to effectively optimize maintenance while offering the best possible maintenance support. Instead of having to drive to the customer’s premises when after-sales services are required, the service technician can access the customer’s machinery remotely in order to diagnose the source of the problem or to support the customer during installation and maintenance. In both cases, the customer benefits from quicker response and completion times for services and problem solving.
Being able to assist customers remotely, service technicians could support their customers at any time and from anywhere, without necessarily having to visit the customer site. Remote access could also help to better prepare service technicians with the necessary information for their tasks. Knowing about the machine or system error in more detail beforehand saves valuable time because required spare parts or other equipment can ordered, prepared and brought along. Moreover, due to a shorter reaction time, the customer’s machines are up and running much faster, saving them from costly downtime.
For a machine and equipment manufacturer, using remote access also means that the same number of service technicians could support more customers or offer additional services.
A secure remote connection to distributed machinery and equipment is also the basis for many new concepts and services within Industry 4.0 such as predictive maintenance, where a secure connection is established to collect data from machines, equipment or devices. The data is than analyzed and used to detect errors and possible failures at an early stage to avoid unplanned downtime.