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13-12-2019
3 min. read
Sjors de Kleijn

How to troubleshoot PLC problems remotely?

An easy way to troubleshoot PLC controls and deliver remote support to your PLC

By installing and configuring an advanced industrial remote access router, you can provide expert level services from remote locations that dramatically reduce your maintenance costs and further optimize your machine uptime. But working remotely offers more benefits. In addition to supporting your machine and processes around the world, you can remotely troubleshoot machine problems, control the PLC over the internet, upload and download PLC programs, view and control attached HMIs or view images from a web camera.

This is how you start remote PLC troubleshooting:

  • Connect the PLC to an industrial remote access router or edge gateway
  • Setup an internet connection for the router to connect it to a cloud platform so you can access the PLC over the internet
  • Setup a VPN connection from your PC, through a cloud platform, to the PLC and get full network access
  • Now that you can get to the PLC from your workstation, you can troubleshoot the PLC and solve the problem.

Below we explain how you can troubleshoot your PLC using the IXrouter and IXON Cloud platform. Test a full scenario using our free starter kit of test it now in our Free Product Tour.

Animation how secure remote access to PLC works for remote download and upload PLC programming software

How to download and upload PLC programming software remote over the internet

To access your Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) remotely, it must be connected to the internet first. To do so, IXON offers an inhouse designed industrial VPN router, IXrouter. Depending on the model, it can set up an internet connection over Ethernet, Wi-Fi and/or 4G/LTE. Each model offers access to our web-based platform IXON Cloud, that allows you to manage and remote access all your devices in a clear overview. 

Connecting your PLC to the internet is easy. Connect the ethernet port of the PLC to the IXrouter and configure the preferred internet connection via the IXON’s Industrial IoT platform. If the PLC is located in an isolated location with poor or missing Internet connectivity, or if you cannot use the factory Internet connection, you can use a model with 4G/LTE internet connectivity.

Once the internet connection is configured you can create a secure remote VPN connection to your PLC. It’s just like connecting the PLC directly to your PC. Now you program your PLC from remote can deploy (upload or download) programming software.

Illustration of IXON Cloud setup and steps to access a PLC securely over the internet Illustration of IXON Cloud setup and steps to access a PLC securely over the internet

How to check and solve a PLC problem remotely

Now you can access your PLC securely over the internet, via IXON Cloud, you get full network access to your PLC and it’s connected equipment. This allows you to check PLC diagnostics and:

Here you find some tips for PLC troubleshooting and the top 5 problems with PLCs.

How to access PLC data remotely

To get access to your PLC data from remote, you can use the Data Logging facility of IXON Cloud. This is a robust, secure and reliable way to send data to the cloud directly from the PLC. The data from your PLC are securely stored in the IXON Cloud databases and are available for raw export (CSV), data visualisation or for use in external applications via the API

It very easy to use and requires no programming whatsoever. Just follow these steps to access PLC data remotely:

  1. First set up a data source in the IXON Cloud. IXON supports PLC data access via OPC-UA, Modbus TCP, Siemens S7 and Ethernet IP protocols.
  2. Next, configure the PLC variables you want to log and store.
  3. Finally, you configure triggers to define when the data should be transferred and stored.

The IXrouter or embedded software agent (‘IXagent’) handles your configuration carefully thanks to the built-in edge technology. It “talks” to the PLC to monitor, collect, prepare and transmit the PLC data according to your settings.

Industrial protocols to access PLC data remotely Industrial protocols to access PLC data remotely

How to control unwanted access to your PLC

According to a PLC access control security analysis, PLCs are a preferred target for industrial control system (ICS) attackers. The IXrouter’s built-in firewall blocks unwanted access to the PLC from outside the plant and separates the machine network from the corporate network. IXON's Certificate Authority system prevents Man-in-the-Middle attacks and eliminates the need for a fixed IP address or opening up firewall ports. 

You stay in control of each user's access rights using the advanced user management.

Discover how easy it is to access PLC & machine data using IXON Cloud

So give it a try, without any obligations. Discover unlimited remote support and get access to machine data and other connected industrial devices.

[[Register your free IXON Cloud account]]

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