Cloud-based Remote Machine Maintenance

Special machine manufacturer Velco uses a remote monitoring solution based on Turck Cloud Solutions for locating error sources and monitoring production parameters

The pressurized vessel, rotor gunning machines and injection plants from Velco are used in blast furnaces, steelworks, foundries and in the refractory industry. In order to provide rapid support for customers in the event of malfunctions, the special machines are provided with a remote monitoring function. As the previous solution could no longer meet the latest requirements, Velco searched for a cloud based solution that would allow worldwide remote access via PC or smartphone. After a selection process, it was Turck's cloud solution that was chosen, as it was the only one that could meet all requirements.

  • Velco uses its own design of the Turck Cloud dashboard

  • Thanks to mobile internet connection, authorization for the corporate network is unnecessary

  • Velco can now help its customer quickly and efficiently with troubleshooting

  • Satisfied with the solution: Velco electrical engineers Michael Sundmacher (left) and Klaus Küster

Avoiding excessive service callouts

“The customer wants to know: whether the machine is working or not and whether or not it is operating correctly? Customers want support with remote maintenance,” explains Klaus Küster, head of electrical engineering at Velco. The remote monitoring module was designed to eliminate excessive service callouts for accidently closed supply lines or the pressing of emergency pushbuttons and at the same time help with the troubleshooting of real malfunctions. Turck Cloud Solutions stood out on account of its user-friendliness. Küster adds: “The key benefit is the fact that we could access the controller of the machine directly via a PC or a smartphone and even control this via Modbus. Other solutions can't offer this.”

Dashboard provides a clear data overview 

The customer's employees call up the dashboard of the Velco cloud and see their machines listed in the navigation window. A map in a Google Maps view indicates the location of the individual machines. If an employee clicks on one of the entries in the list, the dashboard provides a clear overview of all the relevant data. Besides some analog values such as water pressure or material level, there are also digital indicators such as for operating state or the status of the emergency stop button. The user can also see an operating hours counter and other numerical displays. The dashboard can be made up very easily by the users themselves – with just a few clicks and without any programming knowledge. Users can also create their own alarm messages via SMS or email for different users.

Automatic material ordering possible

A welcome side effect the cloud: It provides transparency. Refractory concrete users in particular want to see how long a machine is in operation. Depending on the contract, customers are required to purchase the special concrete of a particular manufacturer. If the consumption values for the concrete do not match the operating hours of the machine, the end customer can assume that other material was used. These kinds of cases enable the rental services to respond in future. The cloud solution also opens up new sales models for refractory concrete manufacturers. Today they are able to offer and invoice the service according to actual use.

Assigning individual user roles and rights

Some users consider the risks involved with remote control as well as its benefits. From the very beginning, Turck has therefore placed prime importance on data and communication security. The management of roles and rights enables the owner of the machine to determine which users can navigate in the cloud and with what authorizations. Different authorization levels can be defined individually for each machine and user, from elementary read rights to write authorization, right through to administrator rights. The communication between Turck's TCG20 cloud gateway and the cloud server is also encrypted via the Kolibri proprietary cloud protocol, which meets the latest standard for data transport in the web (TLS 1.3, AES256).

Mobile communication makes corporate network access unnecessary

Responsible IT managers seldom allow access to the corporate network even when it uses encryption. With the Turck solution this is not a problem since the TCG20 can also establish the connection to the cloud via the mobile network. This therefore always ensures mobile access to the machines – regardless of where they will be used in the world in the future. The financial investment for data communication via mobile networks is manageable. “Today we use quite normal country-specific SIM cards and everything works. The financial risk is negligible,” Velco electrical engineer Sundmacher explains. The TCG20 is nevertheless also available with a Wifi interface as well as a flexible combination device with Wifi and mobile communication. Particularly customers who wish to host their cloud “on-premises”, i.e. on in-house servers, will often use the Wifi version.

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