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A supplement to PLANT

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Data visualization, monitoring remotely

here is a direct correlation between shared with other users, and it can be download-
improving data visualization and imple- ed for analysis as needed.”
menting cloud-based remote access, The authors of the second article in this
which is also the first step to implement- issue make a case for offsite remote manage-
ing the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and ment and monitoring service support. They
Industrie 4.0 applications for said data visualiza- write, “Remote monitoring technology is not
tion. The author of the cover story in this issue new. However, due to technological advances
of AppliedAutomation discusses best practices (e.g., open systems, wireless technology, smart
Jack Smith for logging data to the cloud using suitable proto- manufacturing devices, high-speed network
Editor cols, and covers functions such as math manipu- connections, etc.) over the past several years,
lations and notifications. He also describes a the ability to remotely manage and monitor criti-
specific application about a Colorado-based sys- cal automation and control systems in real time
tem integrator that works on brewing, wastewater has come to the forefront as a secure and cost-
and other projects as an example to show how effective means for manufacturers to improve
to get started with cloud-based remote access. operational efficiency and tap offsite resources
The author writes, “Data storage in the cloud and for additional production support.”
access to it allows users to gain insight through According to the authors, offsite remote ser-
data visualization. Configurable dashboards vice support can handle a variety of tasks and
using widgets for remote viewing allow visualiza- services including incident management, system
tion of cloud-based data from any device con- backup and recovery, data analysis and retriev-
nected to the Internet such as a laptop, a PC, a al, software updates and patches, and real-time
smartphone or a tablet. This data easily can be software monitoring.

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A8 Working with the cloud
Using the cloud for data logging and remote
access can improve operations, cut costs and
simplify interactions.

A12 Managing remote monitoring

Remote management and monitoring applications
help keep operations up and running. External
remote management and monitoring teams provide
specialized operational knowledge to help with
automation and control system issues. A8
On The COver: This AutomationDirect C-more
human-machine interface (HMI) touch panel provides local
data logging to an SD-card or a USB drive. Courtesy:


3010 Highland Parkway, Suite 325, Downers Grove, IL 60515
Phone: 630-571-4070 Fax: 630-214-4504 Email: customerservice@cfemedia.com
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n Jim Langhenry n Patrick Lynch Fax: 508-590-0432
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Fax: 630-214-4504
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Editor Creative Director Jerry Preston
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n Amanda Pelliccione
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Content Manager Media and is mailed as a supplement with Control iNTERNATiONAl
630-571-4070 x2212 Engineering and Plant Engineering magazines. Stuart Smith
Copyright 2019 by CFE Media llC. All rights ssM Global Media ltd.
n Emily Guenther reserved. Editorial offices are located at 3010 +44 208 464 5577
Associate Content Manager highland Parkway, suite 325, Downers Grove, il Fax: +44 208 464 5588
630-571-4070 x2220 60515. Phone 630-571-4070. stuart.smith@ssm.co.uk

Applied Automation April 2019 • A5

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 The signal processing
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D ata v i s u a l i z at i o n

Working with the cloud

using the cloud for data logging and remote access can improve operations,
cut costs and simplify interactions.

By Jonathan Griffith Data storage in the cloud and

AutomationDirect access to it allows users to gain

insight through data visualization.
Configurable dashboards using
mplementing cloud-based widgets for remote viewing allow
remote access is often the first visualization of cloud-based data
step to implementing Industrial from any device connected to the
Internet of Things (IIoT) and Internet such as a laptop, a PC, a
Industrie 4.0 applications for smartphone or a tablet (see Figure
improved data visualization. This 1). This data easily can be shared
article discusses best practices with other users, and it can be
for logging data to the cloud using downloaded for analysis as needed.
suitable protocols, and covers func-
tions such as math manipulations Data logging
and notifications. A specific appli- Data logging can be local,
cation to show how to get started cloud-based or a combination of
with cloud-based remote access is both. Many programmable logic
discussed. controllers (PLCs) and human
machine interfaces (HMIs) include
Cloud advantages onboard memory for local data
There are several advantages storage on an SD-card or a USB
of cloud-based data storage and Figure 1: Cloud-based applications allow users to drive (see Figure 2). An industrial
access systems as compared with access and visualize data from anywhere to gain
plant or facility also may have
on-premises systems. Worldwide network-based database servers
insight to a machine or process. All images cour-
cloud connectivity only requires maintained by the IT department.
tesy: AutomationDirect
access to the Internet via a wired, However, with data logging to the
Wi-Fi or cellular link. On-premises cloud, the possibilities are much
connectivity is considerably more complex, particularly for greater. It’s possible to create and maintain a cloud-
users located offsite. based data system, or to use an end-to-end solution
Cloud-based data systems can be set up in a matter of offered by a service provider. Creating a cloud-based
hours with little or no upfront capital expenses and can data system requires some level of IT expertise, albeit
be scaled up in minutes with relatively simple interac- less than doing so on-premises. For example, Amazon
tions with cloud service providers. By contrast, setting up Web Services (AWS) is a popular cloud services provider,
on-premises data systems always requires substantial offering many of the features needed for those wanting to
upfront capital expenses and information technology (IT) host their own cloud-based data systems.
expertise, and scaling up can be very difficult, expensive Another alternative is to subscribe to an end-to-end
and time-consuming. service offering data logging with a hosted virtual private
Given these and other advantages, cloud-based data network (VPN) (see Figure 3). These types of services
systems and other services are growing rapidly across typically are offered on a monthly subscription basis with
a wide range of commercial and industrial applications. costs based on the number of data points recorded. This
This rapid growth is causing prices to drop as provid- type of solution provides a quick road to logging data
ers take advantage of economies of scale. Simply put, to the cloud and accessing it worldwide for visualization
it’s much less expensive on a per user basis for a cloud and other purposes. Although every data logging solu-
service company to provide IT infrastructure to thousands tion does not have a VPN router, using one provides the
of users than it is for each user to design, install and a required security along with remote access and program-
maintain his or her own infrastructure. ming functionality (see Figure 4).

A8 • April 2019 Applied Automation

Figure 2: This AutomationDirect C-more human-machine interface (HMI) touch panel provides local data logging to an SD-card or a USB drive.

Protocols and router configuration with MQTT support is needed to publish data to the bro-
With the IIoT, there has been a great increase in the ker, while end-to-end solutions typically have this type of
amount of available data, with corresponding demands to functionality built-in to the data logger or VPN router.
meet reliability and security requirements, possibly slow- One popular end-to-end solution uses a VPN router
ing data transfer rates and presenting other problems. with support for multiple industrial protocols including
While industrial Ethernet protocols have been advancing, Modbus TCP, EtherNet/IP, Siemens S7, OPC-UA, BACnet
some newer protocols such as message queuing telemetry and others—allowing data gathering from any compo-
transport (MQTT) are often a better solution. Many VPN nents supporting these protocols, such as PLCs and
routers work with the newer protocols as well as multiple HMIs. Relatively few industrial PLC and HMI components
common industrial Ethernet protocols often used on the support MQTT, but most all support one or more of these
plant floor while providing the required security. protocols.
MQTT has become one of the most common proto- VPN routers with data logging often use MQTT technol-
cols for data logging to the cloud due to its low resource ogy behind the scenes so users can work with the most
requirements and excellent reliability, even over low- common industrial protocols, rather than converting them
bandwidth networks. Instead of using a request-response to MQTT first. Data logging is configured in the router by
system where clients constantly poll for new data from a identifying the tags to be monitored from each component,
server, MQTT uses a publish-subscribe methodology. With with the router then logging the data to the cloud with no
publish-subscribe, remote systems can publish data to a PLC or HMI programming required.
broker, and remote clients can subscribe to this data.
MQTT uses a single broker through which all published Data manipulation and notification
and subscribed data flows. Multiple servers do not need Data often needs to be cleansed and manipulated
to respond to multiple devices, reducing network traffic. before visualization or notification takes place. At the
MQTT provides superior security, using outbound com- source, data often is cleansed to eliminate blips, and
munications only upon request. For users running their then sent to the cloud only upon exception; that is when
own servers or visualization platforms, a PLC or an HMI it changes, greatly reducing the data traffic from a site to

Applied Automation April 2019 • A9

Data visualization

Figure 4: These StrideLinx

Remote Access VPN routers from
AutomationDirect offer secure remote
access with a subscription-based data
logger and notification included.

Widgets can be used to display

live and historical data as a num-
ber value, or as a Boolean status
such as true or false. Typical
graphics available to help visual-
ize data include a gauge to display
the value within a configurable
range and a graph to plot the data
over time. Templates also are
available to help quickly display
cloud data. Tables with data tags
and logged values and bar charts
over fixed intervals are other com-
monly used widgets for displaying
data. Data reports can be manipu-
lated through use of formulas to
customize the data view over a
selected time period. Typical for-
mulas include average, minimum,
Figure 3: AutomationDirect’s StrideLinx secure hosted VPN routers maximum, median, mode, range, sum, first and last.
serve as a key component of an end-to-end remote access and Alerts and notifications can be configured to inform
data logging solution. users when parameters fall outside of a predefined range.
For example, alarms can be configured to notify specific
personnel when a machine breaks down, needs mainte-
the cloud. If an alarm or event occurs, data transmission nance or when a temperature runs too high.
can be switched to send every reading to the cloud for a Through simple configuration, users can enable a
predetermined period of time to aid with analysis. Other cloud notify function to alert workers based on predefined
methods of data cleansing or manipulation at the source machine or process conditions. These notifications can
often are employed depending on the application. be categorized as low, medium or high priority—allowing
Once the data is logged to the cloud, users need a users to choose which notifications they’d like to receive.
way to visualize it. Many end-to-end solutions allow live
monitoring and creation of widgets for data visualization. The cloud for all
Dashboards often are used to add, remove, edit and view The cloud works well for small, medium and large com-
both live and historical data reports over a preconfigured panies logging, accessing and visualizing data. The cost of
time period. Live monitoring displays real-time data in the entry is very affordable hardware and a data subscription
cloud, providing insight into how the machine or process is (free or a monthly fee based on data usage and the ser-
operating in near real time. vice provider), and configuration is quick.

A10 • April 2019 Applied Automation

Figure 5: Fermentation vessel temperature data logged to the cloud is visualized as live graph data using
AutomationDirect’s hosted VPN solution.

For example, consider Woodwest Controls, a Colorado- real-time displays of temperatures. The temperatures of
based system integrator. Led by owner and founder Chris 14 fermentation vessels and six brite tanks are monitored
Kregoski, the company works on brewing, wastewater using one dashboard with two panels, one for fermentation
and other projects. Kregoski started the company in his tanks and one for brite tanks.
basement in 2014 and has quickly expanded the scope of With simple configuration, alarms were added to notify
the business to service Fortune 1,000 companies, while employees that a given step is near completion. These
maintaining a commitment to excellence and customer process completion alerts, when added to this semiauto-
satisfaction. Kregoski also owns a brewery and designs mated process, improved productivity and yields. Glycol
control systems from start to finish for himself and his alarms also were configured for high temperature or
customers’ breweries. In addition, his company supports low pressure to ensure proper chilling of the tanks and
malting companies that prepare the grain before it goes improve quality.
to a brewery.
Microbrewing is a semiautomated process where the Everyone’s IIoT
brewer is constantly checking temperatures on tanks and When it comes to the cloud, think big—there is much
vessels throughout the day. Monitoring live data, receiv- that can be done with data logged to the cloud and
ing process completion alerts and creating historical data accessed from it. This data can be used to improve effi-
records of each batch can improve productivity, yields and ciencies in machines and processes. Users can take
quality control. advantage of these connections to stay informed about
Woodwest Controls uses AutomationDirect’s StrideLinx production volumes, process status, system alarms, raw
solution to monitor automation systems installed at their material usage, energy consumption, maintenance needs
customers’ sites. The main components of these systems and more.
are typically an AutomationDirect HMI and PLC. The PLC With the right technology, it’s easy to start small and
controls temperatures in the fermentation tanks, and in the experiment with remote access and data logging at one
brite tanks when clarifying beer. These tanks need to be site, and then scale up and deploy to other production
held at specific temperatures, which must be monitored lines and sites.
closely by the brewer (see Figure 5).
The StrideLinx is configured to log the temperature of Jonathan Griffith is the product manager for Industrial
the tanks and the support systems, such as glycol storage. Communications & Power Supplies at AutomationDirect.
Tank temperatures for the next day’s brewing uses the live He has three degrees, all from the Georgia Institute of
monitor function on the StrideLinx platform, providing near Technology: MBA, MSEE and BSEE.

Applied Automation April 2019 • A11

R e m o t e m o n i t oR i n g

Managing remote monitoring

Remote management and monitoring applications help keep operations up and running.
external remote management and monitoring teams provide specialized operational knowl-
edge to help with automation and control system issues.

By Dawn Lewis and Evan Pederson • Builds a working relationship with automation experts
Maverick who deliver continuous improvement and sustaining

services support.

emote monitoring technology is not new. Workforce woes

However, due to technological advances (e.g., In today’s competitive world, manufacturers are hav-
open systems, wireless technology, smart ing to transition from their traditional systems to more
manufacturing devices, high-speed network modern tools and strategies. Often, however, they find it
connections, etc.) over the past several years, increasingly difficult to justify, recruit and train automa-
the ability to remotely manage and monitor tion personnel on new system upgrades or infrastructure.
critical automation and control systems in real time has They also face workforce attrition and retirement, which
come to the forefront as a secure and cost-effective places additional tasks on personnel who already have
means for manufacturers to improve operational effi- heavy workloads. They simply do not have the bandwidth
ciency and tap offsite resources for additional produc- or, in some instances, the level of experience to effective-
tion support. ly diagnose system failures or deal with the daily process
Offsite remote service support can handle a variety of issues that arise, leading to the potential for equipment
tasks and services including incident management, system failure and downtime.
backup and recovery, data analysis and retrieval, software To help ease the load, external remote management
updates and patches, real-time monitoring of software and and monitoring teams provide specialized operational
systems, and online automation and system programming. knowledge to help with automation and control system
Key advantages manufacturers should consider when issues. Typically, legacy and new systems alike require
engaging a remote offsite team include: original equipment manufacturer (OEM) expertise and
support. However, due to equipment obsolescence, few
• Provides 24/7/365 support OEMs are supporting the spare parts manufacturers’
source for their legacy systems.
• Offers a broad platform-agnostic knowledge base A platform-independent third-party automation solu-
to support a mix of systems tions provider can provide operational expertise on a mix
of hardware and software platforms, working with OEMs
• Reduces costs by helping prevent downtime directly, based on your manufacturing facility require-
ments. They can deliver application support services
• Eliminates the need to find and retain additional and production optimization solutions, while helping to
in-house automation expertise remotely maintain, continuously improve and prevent
automation and control issues from happening.
• Delivers positive return on investment (ROI) as
benefits exceed costs for process improvements Managing the unexpected
Despite system or procedural warnings, situations can
• Often results in lower cost than onsite alternatives and do arise when manufacturers least expect it, especial-
ly during the weekend, evening, holiday or vacation hours.
• Supports flexible, customized services for specific Often, a manufacturer’s in-house team can handle many
facility requirements of the day-to-day automation and control issues that come
up if given enough time. However, who do you call when
• Performs upfront assessments on new projects the unexpected happens and staff resources are stretched
thin or unavailable?
• Offers system scalability, flexibility and customization At any time, automation hardware and software issues
(e.g., malfunctioning control valves, faulty wiring, poor

A12 • April 2019 Applied Automation

Case study: Loop performance optimization
sweetens product quality

emote management and to each loop. The score of each
monitoring of automation loop was updated automatically.
and control systems helps Threshold limits were defined,
manufacturing facilities react and triggers were set once a loop
quicker to situations to prevent started trending toward an unopti-
unexpected events from happen- mized state.
ing. The following is an example Control room operators now
of such an event. are notified of critical loop trends.
The customer needed an auto- A daily report is compiled for the
mated method to detect poor pro- facility operations team that indi-
cess loop performance in a legacy cates unoptimized loops. On a
control system. Loops optimized weekly basis, the operations team
during commissioning and startup receives a top 10 list.
quickly experienced performance Figure 1: The PlantFloor24 global operations Many of the loop problems were
degradation. The goal was to cor- center at Maverick Technologies uses best symptoms or indicators of more
rect poor loop tuning before signifi- practices to work with manufacturers to important process issues. For
cant process losses were incurred remotely resolve issues and provide solutions automated wmonitoring systems
and to monitor and to communi- to keep operations up and running 24/7/365. to be effective, the systems must
cate loops trending in the wrong Courtesy: Maverick Technologies be more robust than the systems
direction. they are monitoring. Several com-
mercial software solutions exist. However, they are not
Engineers in the Maverick Technologies well-suited for legacy automation systems and cannot
PlantFloor24 global operations center teamed with accurately identify process issues.
our operation consulting group to mine the customer’s Simple repeatable solutions were the core of this
extensive historical controls database to analyze effort. In one case, a loop allowed periodic product loss
trends and data patterns (see Figure 1). The team due to poor tank level control. While the product loss
tested algorithms to create actionable reports, which was important, the volume was not sufficient to make
were then verified to prove the underlying effectiveness the correction of the loss an actionable priority. Further
of the proposed solution. The team also analyzed the investigation helped the team determine the product
total time valves were in auto/manual mode, total valve loss was an indicator of a poorly coordinated process
travel, the flow coefficient (CV) percentage of the valve that was ultimately affecting product quality and signifi-
and other relevant variables and assigned a final score cantly reducing the value of the finished product.

process loop performance, control system and software • Identify and monitor key parameters that typically
updates, data recovery and more) can quickly escalate indicate most failures. Examples include hard disk
and cause facility downtime, safety risks and increased usage, percentage of used memory, warnings gen-
operational costs. How long it takes your in-house team to erated by the automation system, 24/7 network
respond is critical to personnel safety and the manufactur- data and information related to equipment opera-
ing facility. tion, such as vibration parameters, temperature
During these times, a third-party remote management readings, etc.
and monitoring application support team can work with in-
house personnel to: • Diagnose, interpret and communicate current
system code issues
• Ensure 24/7/365 immediate response and
proactive support • Monitor faults and processors

• Identify, diagnose and debug automation equipment • Monitor network usage and connectivity
issues (e.g., server failures or malfunctioning control
valves) before they disrupt production • Perform daily routine system checks

Applied Automation April 2019 • A13

R e m o t e m o n i t oR i n g

• Help get production going again more quickly upfront planning to prevent surprises from happening ulti-
after equipment failure mately keeps costs from escalating later. Engaging a third-
party partner early on in a project is key, as they become
• Help perform routine system backups so operational more familiar with your platforms, as well as intimately
improvements are captured and preserved knowledgeable about your specific product manufactur-
ing process. Ideally, they can help write the process code
• Supervise software updates and patches for needed for any future programming changes.
cybersecurity protection Chain of command. Ensure both teams have the proper
escalation protocols—a point of contact and knowledgeable
• Monitor key alarms. staff available that can escalate issues for resolution. This is
where on-call, 24/7/365, third-party remote operation teams
Now that we’ve looked at some challenges and how are extremely important in off hours.
working with external remote teams can help resolve auto- Project tracking. Find someone who is flexible to your
mation application issues, let’s look at how manufacturers needs and will use some form of ticketing system for
can choose the right partner and move tracking calls and issuing reports. It is
past any uncertainties or fears about important to document every call and
their intellectual property.
Manufacturers should incident for archiving purposes and
historical recall.
Documentation is key have good security Costs. Cost is always a major fac-
As with any contractual agreement tor for any business. If the remote
between parties, it all comes down
policies in place and services deliver a positive ROI, then
to good documentation. Before the the benefits exceed costs for process
team lead signs on the dotted line,
use best practices improvements. A cost savings also
consider the following items when can be realized when you reduce the
looking for and working with a trust-
when working with amount of in-house personnel hav-
ed platform-independent third-party ing to perform or be trained on critical
automation solutions provider or sys-
secure setups across automation tasks, which limits disrup-
tems integrator: tions to their daily operational routines.
the enterprise. Another factor to consider is the poten-
Safety. Before starting any project, tial cost associated with system failure
both the manufacturer and remote partner need to be or downtime, resulting in lost production and product
aware of all safety policies and procedures. Any tasks can quality. Can you really afford to have a full-time employee
be performed in-house or remotely, with manufacturers “on call” solely to field potential problems that arise?
making decisions based on their specific circumstances. Proactive third-party remote management and monitoring
When remote changes are made to a facility’s systems, handles the problems for you and can prevent any safety
both parties should follow precautionary measures to lapses as well as increase efficiency saving costs in the
mitigate safety risks and ensure the working environment long run.
remains safe at all times. The right third-party partner can be a major advantage
Security. Manufacturers should have good security for manufacturers who want to use the latest remote man-
policies in place and use best practices when working agement and monitoring tools and techniques as part of
with secure setups across the enterprise. Depending on their day-to-day routine. A trusted partner will answer any
where the remote monitoring will be performed, a manu- questions to remove any uncertainty and doubt from the
facturer’s highly-qualified information technology (IT) process. A platform-independent automation solutions
personnel need to ensure a secure location to protect provider can provide unbiased remote management and
intellectual property (IP). monitoring experience for a range of products and technol-
They must also ensure safe and secure remote firewall ogies to keep facility operations up and running 24/7/365.
access to systems, giving unique access via usernames
and passwords to the third-party solutions provider. Security Dawn Lewis (dawn.lewis@mavtechglobal.com) is a senior
coverage to prevent hackers is a two-way street in remote project manager in the Automation Solutions Group for at
setups, so high priority should be placed on it from both Maverick Technologies. With 17 years of experience, she
sides of the firewall. leads team efforts to provide high-quality and reliable proj-
Manufacturers also should consider visiting the third-party ects in all realms of the business.
locations to see first-hand what lockdown protections are in
place, including building security. Evan Pederson (evan.pederson@mavtechglobal.com) is
Flexibility/customization. Being able to have the flex- a senior engineer at Maverick Technologies and has more
ibility to customize and make changes on the fly is nice, but than 15 years of experience in industrial automation.

A14 • April 2019 Applied Automation

Always the Right Move

One Choice for All

Controlling a robot arm, a servo axis, a VFD drive or a custom
robotic mechanism is all the same task for an MP3300iec
machine controller. It uses familiar IEC61131-3 and PLCopen
programming to operate them all, and will even allow
you to substitute one motion device for another without

Looking for motion control that can change and grow as readily
as your machines do? Move to the MP3300iec by contacting
your Yaskawa representative.

Yaskawa America, Inc. Drives & Motion Division 1-800-YASKAWA yaskawa.com For more info: http://go.yaskawa-america.com/yai1266
Less means more!

Focused on the essentials: the new i500

Slim design, scalable functionality, and extremely user-friendly.
The groundbreaking i500 is size-optimized and allows for zero-
clearance mounting, saving valuable cabinet space. And thanks
to the innovative interface options, it’s easy to commission in
minimal time. The best thing of all is that the modular structure
adapts to different production configurations in no time at all.
Less does mean more! Learn more at www.lenze.com
Visit us at PROMAT 2019 – Booth #S2422 | April 8-11 | Chicago, IL As easy as that.