According to Data Bridge market research, the global remote monitoring market will increase in value by more than 5% before 2026. The attributed primary cause for this is a surge in industrial automation. This article explains why remote monitoring is such a crucial component in effective industrial automation and what we expect to see from it as we move into the future.
Remote Monitoring for Industrial Automation
Remote monitoring is a way to track and log the performance of industrial machines in real-time. It reduces or negates the need for onsite monitoring, as it allows industrial engineers and manufacturing production managers to monitor machines and manufacturing units across a range of sites from a single location.
Technicians and analysts can use remote monitoring to control equipment, track the progress of processes, and report on a wide range of data.
Why the Use of Remote Monitoring for Industrial Automation is on the Rise
In some ways, 2020 was a turning point for remote monitoring. Digitization of assets and tasks was already increasing, but the pandemic showed that in industrial spaces, there was a need for more ways to ensure safety, keep distance between workers, and allow remote working while maintaining clear and efficient chains of communication.
Remote monitoring is no longer a necessity in a time of crisis but a desired requirement thanks to the many benefits it provides in terms of efficiency and quality.
Ways Remote Monitoring Benefits Industrial Operators
One way that remote monitoring benefits industries are by keeping concise and complete digital records of all relevant data about industrial equipment. Technical personnel can use this data to make changes or adjustments or write effective reports that help drive success or transformation within the organization.
Another primary reason remote monitoring is so popular is that it enables a safe way to monitor potentially dangerous equipment. Communicating with machinery digitally rather than taking a hands-on approach reduces the risk of injury. In addition, it minimizes the need for human contact in the plant or factory, which is ideal when the risk of viral transmission is still a concern.
Remote monitoring also solves the very real problems of a shrinking manual labor workforce and the associated loss of experience on the factory floor. Jobs that were previously performed by the experienced staff are harder to fill, as experts in those roles are now rare or nonexistent. Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, and remote servers that consistently log and report data are the replacements for this part of the industrial workforce.
4 Current and Emerging Trends in Remote Monitoring for Industrial Automation
Edge Computing-Powered Controllers
Edge computing means that processes happen at the periphery or edge of the network, as close to the devices and equipment involved as possible. This makes processing faster and more powerful, and responses more efficient. Edge controllers pair with remote monitoring systems to provide even better performance tracking and diagnostics, and they have real-time operating systems for instant analytics.
Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a range of devices that connect to the internet to share data, such as a smartwatch or a personal assistant. The Industrial IoT is the emerging use of smart sensors and other internet-connected parts of machinery and equipment. Remote monitoring becomes ever more effective as more and more parts of the industrial process become digitally connected. In an MPI survey of 350 manufacturers, the top reasons given for embracing IIoT devices were:
- Better product quality
- Lower manufacturing costs
- Improved uptime
Wireless Emergency Shutdown Devices
With safety a major factor when considering remote monitoring, you need to have contingencies in place for the unfortunate occasions when things go wrong. Modern solutions bypass manual levers or onsite buttons hidden behind glass panels. Wireless solutions allow a technician or safety officer to push a button connected to a wireless network, which will shut down an entire system of machines if programmed to do so. Fail-safe devices no longer need to be a physical part of the equipment to put an immediate halt to faulty processing, which saves both time and money.
Increasingly Granular Data on Asset Health
Newer monitoring systems can assess and report on very tiny fluctuations in data, allowing technicians to understand how well equipment is performing and if it needs maintenance. One example of this is vibration monitoring. Equipment with motors or rotating shafts and other moving parts will produce vibrations at a fairly specific set of harmonics. Records will show variations of this so technical specialists can check for problems such as loose belts and other defects. Comparing the current vibration of a device to the baseline helps analysts note the symptoms of wear and tear much sooner and avoid breakdown or loss of production quality.
As industrial automation becomes even more prevalent, remote monitoring is the safe way to maximize success and efficiency. It provides a wealth of information, maintains up-to-date records to help keep organizations compliant, and cuts costs in a variety of ways.
Consider working with an expert systems integrator to identify your industrial automation remote monitoring needs. Contact ICA Engineering for more information.
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