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21-02-2020
4 min. read
Julia Weijs

The Answer to Machine Breakdown? Standardise Remote Troubleshooting

How remote access improves services, boosts ROI and enables new service models

At some point, every machine manufacturer has to deal with machine breakdowns - regardless of the sector you are in or what type of machine you produce. Due to critical applications or environments, machine downtime can be extremely costly. During the warranty period, the machine builder has to cover all support-related costs, which can be prohibitively high. This is why you need a more innovative way to handle troubleshooting.

Machine maintenance Machine maintenance

Unplanned machine breakdowns and maintenance

In case of machine breakdowns, you want to put machines back into operation as soon as possible. Malfunctions can have many causes. Some are the result of incorrect preventive and long-term maintenance planning, while others are caused by a lack of inspections, incorrect load cycles, faulty design or neglect.

Swift problem diagnosis reduces the impact of machine breakdowns. This requires smart tools to help you get access to the machine with less effort – from anywhere in the world, at any time!

Breakdown' generally refers to unforeseen and sudden physical damage to machinery from any cause not excluded which requires repair or replacement to enable normal working to continue.

The impact of not having remote troubleshooting capabilities

Unforeseen machine breakdowns (or worse: plant breakdown) can be classified as a form of waste in the production process because it wastes both time and resources. Indirectly, this leads to a loss of revenue for the company. In order to maximise production output, it is imperative that downtime is eliminated completely or reduced as much as possible.

In a typical scenario of a machine going down, the customer (machine operator) will try to find the problem and fix it. As he doesn’t know the machine as well as the machine manufacturer does, he will try to get into contact with the machine manufacturer’s support engineer for advanced support. After walking through some scenarios and checking all possible causes, an on-site visit may be needed. 

Travel and accommodation costs can make this a very expensive affair. Apart from the precious time involved, travel and accommodation costs can make this a very expensive affair - and the machine is down longer than strictly necessary. So both the machine owner and manufacturer throw away valuable time and money.

Using IXON's platform and IoT connectivity for remote troubleshooting Using IXON's platform and IoT connectivity for remote troubleshooting

How remote maintenance improves the quality of support service

In the scenario above, the support employee does not have enough information to determine the cause of the failure. When an industrial remote access solution is supplied with the machine, he can access the machine from remote. This means the support engineer can set up a reliable and secure VPN connection from his PC to the PLC over the internet, or view the local HMI, access log files or real-time machine data to investigate the machine’s problem.

When the problem is found, it can be isolated. The cause of stoppage or malfunction can be fixed by uploading new PLC software, restarting the machine or replacing a part to start operating again. In other words: working remotely without the need to travel.

The total service experience will increase and reduce unnecessary waste of productive time from the engineers. Solving the issue in less travel time (-60%) and costs will increase the customer’s satisfaction. By using industrial IoT connectivity you get full remote machine control to provide higher quality services

Standardize remote troubleshooting - Fast ROI

In most of the cases of a machine breakdown, an intervention is not necessary. An operator mistake, incorrect pressing of an emergency button or adjusting a setting can be easily solved by remotely troubleshooting the machine and giving the operator the correct instructions. Our customer BMO Automation can troubleshoot up to 90% of their cases from remote, which improves their First-Time-Fix rate (FTFR).

The Return on Investment (ROI) of remote troubleshooting is usually within one single intervention (calculate yours here). To increase your efficiency, remain competitive and increase support services you must require and standardize a remote access solution in your machine equipment, like IXON Cloud. 

IXON Cloud is a cloud-based Industrial IoT and remote access solution for any PLC brand and connected equipment. It comes with integrated industrial IoT connectivity, the IXrouter, for a time-saving installation and fits in any control cabinet.

Data visualisation for new service models Data visualisation for new service models

Building a case for new service models for machine builders

As shown, remote troubleshooting increases customer satisfaction, reduces operational costs and saves support time, that can now be spent on other value-generating tasks. You might upgrade your service levels agreements to increase your revenue stream.

To get more value from your remote service solution you must start record-keeping. This will help you introduce new service models, like:

  1. Use the collected machine data to create a maintenance plan – at the correct intervals – to eliminate machine breakdowns. 
  2. Give your customers (mobile) access to their HMI panel, for remote control. Introduce it as a machine extension.
  3. Create a real-time machine dashboard which leads to better machine monitoring for operators. 

All you need is an easy way for data logging and data visualisation.

IXON made this easy for you with a built-in interface where data sources and variables can be configured and added to dashboards. Easily shareable with different types of users from your own branded platform using the white labelling option.

Discover how to start remote troubleshooting

Find out more about IXON’s remote service solution for machine manufacturers and discover the ease of use in our interactive Product Tour. Or test the IXrouter in a 30-day trial.

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