"Worldwide, our machinery is well-known for its reliability and endurance, yet machinery will always remain machinery. Something can always go wrong. Intervention is therefore a must. This is not always easy, especially when machinery is located on the other side of the world."
"It is also time-consuming, particularly in terms of technician travel time. Since we started to collaborate with eWON last year, we are now able to offer a much better, faster and cheaper service," says Anthony Geerinckx, CEO of Lapauw International, a manufacturer of industrial laundry machinery, based in Belgium.
Lapauw is one of the largest companies in its market, supplying laundry, drying and ironing machinery to customers globally, including hospitals, airlines, cruise ships, large hotel chains and textile manufacturers.
"The sectors in which our customers are active, such as the public health sector and tourism, work non-stop, 24/7," explains Geerinckx. "It is simply not an option for the machinery to stop functioning. When a machine does not operate at its optimum level, our customers face an enormous backlog. Continuous monitoring of the installation is therefore essential. If a problem occurs, action must be taken quickly. This actually means that one of our service engineers must visit the site to resolve the issue. However, if the machine is located in Vietnam, for example, this immediately leads to time loss and significant costs."
Several years ago, Lapauw International started looking for a different, more efficient solution. The result was eWON, a Belgian manufacturer of industrial routers and supplier of intelligent solutions for PLC remote-access via the Internet.
"We were looking for a remote monitoring system for our machinery, as well as a solution for the long distance travel of our technicians. This is how we discovered eWON. The majority of problems that we encounter are software-related. The Talk2M platform is therefore the best solution for our situation."
eWON's Talk2M (Talk to Machines) is an Internet-based remote maintenance and diagnostics service, which works hand-in-hand with the eWON range of intelligent VPN Routers. In the UK, the Talk2M service and eWON range of industrial routers are available from UK distributor MAC Solutions.
Talk2M is a unique, secure and affordable service which provides all the security, reliability and traceability required by industrial applications. Talk2M enables OEMs, machine builders and systems integrators to provide remote maintenance and diagnostics for machines in remote locations using any Broadband or any wireless connections.
Talk2M establishes the communication connection across the Internet, between the supplier's service engineer and the customer's machinery, anywhere in the world.
Each Lapauw system is equipped with an eWON industrial router and uses the Talk2M service, which guarantees a secured VPN connection between the Lapauw service engineers and the PLC on the customer's machinery. This enables the service engineers to continuously monitor the machinery in real time and even perform PLC updates. In addition, the PLC on the machine also sends data back to the Lapauw machinery support team. This information is archived centrally, for future evaluation.
Due to the eWON and Talk2M solution, Lapauw service engineers are immediately informed of any potential machinery problems.
"We are able to immediately make the correct diagnosis and corrective action to resolve the problem," clarifies Geerinckx. "The main advantage is that our technicians no longer have to travel to site, as we are now able to work with local technicians. Talk2M immediately sends all relevant information so we can diagnose the problem. In addition, the local technician can send us images of the machine using his computer, in real time, over the Internet. So, alongside the technical data that we receive via Talk2M, we also have images available to provide us with a complete overview of the problem. Our technicians are now able to provide precise and correct instructions to the local engineer, as if they were on-site themselves. They 'operate' the technician, as it were."
"This solution offers nothing but advantages, both for us and our customers. Each machine can function at its optimum level. Fewer expensive and time-consuming long distance trips to site are required and less time is lost. We can take action much faster, minimising the financial loss of a non-working machine. A complete 'win-win' situation for all involved."
According to Geerinckx, it is too soon to establish a correct picture of the exact savings. "On average, we are able to halve the costs, as the majority of the cases involve software problems, which can be resolved using the eWON & Talk2M remote access system."
An important factor for Lapauw when choosing Talk2M was its simple installation. The Talk2M platform only uses Internet traffic via https, so can be easily implemented on virtually any customer network. So no changes are needed to the firewall settings of the customer's network.
"Remote monitoring has been around for some time, but the fact that eWON units can be easily implemented at the customer's end was the decisive factor in our choice for the eWON system. The Talk2M VPN connection only grants access to the PLCs on the Lapauw machinery and not to the rest of the customer's computer network. Plus the data passing through the Talk2M system is also secure, which is crucial," states Geerinckx.
Thanks to remote monitoring, Lapauw has now amassed a vast amount of operational information about its machinery. "We have a very precise image of how our machinery is performing on a daily basis, and a better picture of how it is used. This allows us to further develop and improve our machines to better meet the specific requirements of our customers. In the future, we plan to also provide our customers with analyses of the usage of their machinery, which will contribute to an even better service," says Geerinckx.