Digital Transformation is an ever-broadening term, especially with new technology for digitization being introduced every day. As disruptions and budget cuts loom, it’s becoming more and more important that companies zero in on the investments that will take them the furthest.
Copperberg’s latest research shows that many businesses have done just that. “The biggest investment on the horizon for 61% of manufacturers is remote diagnostics.”
So what is remote diagnostics, and why have so many experts pinned it as the most influential investment for the foreseeable future? The more you learn about this powerful tool, the more you’ll see how remote diagnostics could revolutionize the landscape of manufacturing around the world.
What is Remote Diagnostics?
Put simply, remote diagnostics is any form of diagnosis or maintenance that can be done on a piece of equipment or a system remotely, either by computer or from a smartphone. It allows businesses to not only troubleshoot problems but also collect data to monitor their assets and make informed decisions proactively.
Remote diagnostics operate within the Internet of Things framework, meaning that they require a certain level of connectivity between machines within a factory or workplace. IoT allows you to collect and analyze data from connected devices, which can then be used to predict potential malfunctions — before they occur.
Not only does this technology prevent breakdowns from occurring in the first place, but it can also save time and money by eliminating the need for onsite technicians. The data gathered can be used to identify issues the moment they happen, or even before.
All of this can begin to sound esoteric, but you’ve likely experienced the power of remote diagnostics in your day-to-day life. Some examples include:
- Warning Lights in A Vehicle – Your car has sensors that capture data and let you monitor and troubleshoot vehicle performance.
- Smart Home Devices – You can diagnose, control, and track your home appliances and systems from your smartphone.
- Smartwatches – Health care techs such as wearables, trackers, and digital records that inform preventative care.
The real power of this technology comes when we apply it to larger-scale factories, as opposed to our homes.
The Impact of Remote Diagnostics on Manufacturing
Manufacturing is a complex operation that involves machines running on tight production schedules. Any downtime can create massive issues, especially in the B2B business. If your machinery breaks down, not only is your own company at a loss but each of your customers will be left without products that are vital to their operation.
That’s where IoT and remote diagnostics kick in. With sensors collecting information across production lines and analyzing it in real time, your system will be aware of issues far in advance of a breakdown. It will also be able to identify what exactly is wrong, eliminating the need for extensive, lengthy checks.
This kind of connectivity also allows teams to monitor production from afar, meaning fewer on-premises and more off-site staff, while allowing better management of multiple production facilities.
The Benefits of Remote Diagnostics
While predictive maintenance and reduced downtime are huge selling points for remote diagnostics, they are not the only benefits of investing in this technology.
With remote diagnostics, the risk of operators on-site is greatly reduced, as well as the risk of expensive mechanical breakdowns and costly accidents. Operators can now monitor conditions at a distance. When they receive an alert, they can take specific actions to solve the problems.
With technology like a digital twin, your team can closely monitor the wear and tear of equipment as well. Perfected, this kind of continual diagnostic power could eliminate dangerous malfunctions from old equipment altogether.
It may seem obvious, but this kind of connectivity also allows teams to monitor production from afar. Businesses will require fewer on-premises and more off-site staff, while allowing better management of multiple production facilities.
Remote-access technology also makes it easier to service specialized manufacturers and thought leaders from afar – something that was nearly impossible before.
One of the best parts of remote diagnostics is the fact that the data-gathering process itself never stops. Remote diagnostic programs can help teams identify areas of improvement and create an ongoing cycle of continuous improvement.
Operators can look for fluctuations in the data at any given time, allowing them to identify weak points in the production chain. What’s more, because they don’t need to spend as much time manually checking equipment, there’s ample opportunity for them to brainstorm and implement innovations.
While remote diagnostics can have a major impact on the management of a manufacturing plant, there’s no denying that it requires a significant investment.
The upfront cost of remote diagnostics can be high, especially for larger production lines. The process itself is extensive, especially if you have not been investing in IoT already. Sensors across the board start to add up quickly.
On top of that, with the massive amounts of data coming in you need to ensure that your team has the infrastructure in place to store and analyze everything. This could look like on-site data storage or cloud integrations. Either way, you need to ensure your company’s information is secure.
This kind of technology also requires a certain level of expertise to be used to the fullest. It’s distinctly possible that your technician team will not have experience working with this level of automation before, and they may need to be trained in advanced data analysis.
However, once these investments have been made, the benefits of having a fully integrated remote diagnostics set up will far outweigh the costs. The long-term savings, safety, and stability can’t be beat.
Remote Diagnostics Best Practices
If you are planning to jump towards remote diagnostics, there are some ways that you can minimize the investment and avoid potentially costly mistakes. Here are some tips from the experts to keep your integration on track.
Keep the Requirements to a Minimum
It can be tempting to gather as much information as possible about every facet of your operation, but in practice, this is unnecessary. All that extra data leaves you with more to store, and more to train your team on.
Establishing clear requirements for the system is key. Keep it simple and focus on the measurements that will give the most valuable insights.
Encourage Personnel Development
As with any form of automation, there’s a fear of pushback from employees who see these advancements as a threat to their jobs. Instead of allowing these sentiments to spread, pitch remote diagnostics as an opportunity for your team to learn new skills and spend less time on menial tasks.
Train personnel to recognize and interpret the data that they are receiving from the sensors. Get them excited about the possibilities for innovation that this tech opens up. If you need to, don’t be afraid to give them the incentives they need to keep up to date with the latest technology as well as industry regulations.
Invest in Security
As with any connected technology, remote diagnostics are subject to cybersecurity risks. Surround the transmission and storage of data with layers of security to prevent malicious actors from intercepting the data or manipulating it in any way.
This might include regular training for your personnel, clear authentication rules, and ensuring all of your sensors are updated with security patches on a regular basis.
Remote diagnostics have become a cornerstone of successful digital transformation strategies for manufacturers. With the ability to accurately monitor and collect data from their assets, companies can reduce downtime, optimize processes, and increase safety and efficiency.
With best practices and a well-trained team, manufacturers can ensure that they are getting the most out of their investments.