Saving time and money with remote monitoring

Three ways to improve operations with better data access.
By Brian Blum, Atlas Copco Compressors October 19, 2017

Remote monitoring can improve operations. Image courtesy: Atlas Copco Compressors.Plants and manufacturing facilities often encounter machine breakdowns due to missed maintenance. The cost of a breakdown extends far beyond the cost of repair – it also impacts production, product quality, shipping schedules and the bottom line. As a viable and cost-effective solution, many facilities have implemented remote monitoring to help anticipate machine maintenance, improve operating efficiencies and save money.

Remote monitoring is just what the name implies – having the ability to monitor machines from afar with automated data collection that you can access anytime, anywhere. That means, you know exactly what’s going on with your machines without having to be physically present on the plant floor.

How does it work?

Remote monitoring collects and sends information straight from the controller, utilizing sensors that are placed on each machine you wish to monitor. With this technology, plant managers get complete insight into their machines’ production when viewing the online system dashboard or when they receive notifications and updates via email and SMS.

What types of information does it provide?

Remote monitoring provides machine data on components such as temperature, pressure, volume, energy consumption, loaded hours and unloaded hours. These data points can be exported as graphs so users can see trends and use them to predict potential problems and set a maintenance schedule to avoid expensive machine failures.

Who manages the remote monitoring system?

  • Internally: Within the plant and manufacturing facility, alerts and notifications can be sent to select employees. These employees can also access the dashboard for detailed information, data, trends and more.
  • Externally: Typically, the remote monitoring provider can also oversee machine operations and processes in case there is a need for immediate service. This helps to significantly reduce response time when it comes to repairing the equipment, which also minimizes machine downtime.

Benefits of remote monitoring:

1. Saves time and increases efficiency.

Remote monitoring can reduce the plant’s labor costs. Employees no longer have to continuously check on each machine on the plant floor and record production times and data points. Employees can focus on analyzing the data as opposed to collecting it.

Remote monitoring sensors can be placed on machines located in remote, hazardous and hard-to-access places. This allows plant managers and employees to monitor all machines regardless of location and receive automated data throughout the day to save time and increase efficiency.

Staying connected throughout the day keeps plant managers on top of machine performance and energy consumption. When malfunctions arise, they are immediately recognized by the system and can be addressed to avoid downtime. Its analysis reporting function also allows users to identify if the correct machine is running based on application demand so no energy is wasted. Data parameters, temperature, pressure, loaded hours and unloaded hours can all help to make informed decisions about increasing operating efficiency.

2. Provides proactive maintenance

It’s always better to be proactive rather than reactive. With remote machine monitoring, plant managers and employees receive alerts when the system senses machine irregularities and errors.

Warnings are sent before a complete machine shutdown occurs so plants can fix the problem immediately to avoid unnecessary downtime. Some remote monitoring systems can even request service quotes for any maintenance that’s needed.

Remote machine monitoring can also send notifications when scheduled maintenance is due or when it has been missed. These service checks help ensure that machines are performing at their optimal level and not wasting energy. This is also a time when audits can be done to see if machines are sized correctly to support plant applications.

3. Receive valuable insight

Remote monitoring data is useful when it comes to finding trends based on energy use and maintenance. The software can produce graphs so it’s easy for plant managers to compare data points week over week, month over month and year over year. These trends provide insight into whether or not some machines are working harder than others, when maintenance normally occurs and what fixes can be made to optimize operations.

Save time and money when you can have access to the machine data you need throughout the day from wherever you are. Remote monitoring helps you make intelligent decisions with important data insight that allows you to:

Cut labor costs with less physical monitoring of your machines.
Receive notifications and alerts to schedule service intervals for your machines that help avoid costly downtime and equipment failure.

Evaluate data trends over select periods of time to determine if machines are operating efficiently.

Brian Blum is a product marketing manager for connectivity and optimization at Atlas Copco Compressors LLC in Rock Hill, S.C.