Plant operators need safe and affordable access even to remote machines and plants for reliable plant monitoring. Automation suppliers around the world are currently offering a comprehensive portfolio of products, systems and solutions for remote services.
Siemens AG has met the growing demand for network components with industrial remote communication in recent years and has expanded its range of available products and solutions for telecontrol, teleservice and further remote communication applications. In a telecontrol environment, process images are cyclically transmitted from distributed stations to a central control center with the help of bandwidth-optimized remote control protocols. The communication connections to the remote stations are usually set up permanently. The constant availability of a connection at low costs is the most important parameter for telecontrol applications. The central control room of a wastewater treatment plant, for example, monitors and controls remote substations, such as rain overflow basins or wastewater pumping stations.
Teleservice means that a communication connection is established to a component in case of a necessary service call. An automation control, for example, is reconfigured in a remote plant via remote access. This means such connections are only established sporadically and upon request. This situation makes the demand regarding available bandwidth very high and a permanently intact connection would be rather expensive. The most important characteristic for teleservice, from an economic point of view, is therefore the anticipated flexibility of communication.
New international standards in the WAN, here mainly in the area of mobile radio and the success of IP based communication in almost all areas of communication, offer new remote communication applications for the industry.
In addition to the traditional telecontrol and teleservice solutions, IP based applications, such as multimedia, are predominantly used; they are characterized by a permanently high demand for bandwidth. For example, TV shows aired in public transportation to keep passengers informed or video surveillance on trains to ensure passenger safety. Depending on the sensitivity of the application, appropriate encoding of the transmitted data must be ensured for reasons of safety and integrity.
Siemens offers the matching product for all industrial remote communication applications, regardless if high availability, flexibility, bandwidth or "state-of-the-art" security concepts are required.
Remote maintenance platform reduces service times
The basis for the future service offer of the different business sectors within the Siemens group was created with the remote maintenance platform used throughout Siemens. Different services can now be offered in addition to the current service business. In the past, customers had to call the hotline in case of a service call. The hotline employee would record the problem and coordinate the service call. Customers were called for information on the problem and to coordinate product versions as well as firmware and software versions. Now on-site access to customer products and systems can take place via the service platform when necessary. Information that took a long time to request before is now available to the service employee immediately, given prior authorization by the customer or plant manufacturer and while observing the latest security mechanisms.
Service packages will become even more intelligent in the future to further minimize expensive service calls so that maintenance calls on site have to take place only if the part or component actually needs to be replaced. These proactive services offer bug fixes or software updates via the platform, for example, customized to the respective customer system; they remind customers of pending service intervals and support them in coordinating the service call.
The platform supports the trend of shifting services away from a problem-oriented approach and toward a preventive or proactive approach.
Comprehensive remote service for the industry
The use of a remote service platform in the industrial area combines the latest trends in remote service and the competence of Siemens in the areas industry automaton and industrial communication for more comprehensive service offers in the industrial environment.
The SIMATIC Remote Support Services offers services for individual components all the way to complete systems with customers benefiting from lower overall costs for diagnostics and maintenance.