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The Internet of Things, Industry 4.0, Connected things, self-maintaining scales…. While factory automation equipment has lagged consumer electronics, the trends are clear: the factory of tomorrow is possible today. Most organizations are, understandably, timid when incorporating new technology into their production environment due to the risks of creating a disruption in their operation. The old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” might ring true in many scenarios. However, when it comes to remotely monitoring your weighing equipment, inaction is costing businesses time and money. Weighing technology has advanced to the point in which you or your service provider can receive diagnostic alerts when your equipment is not functioning properly. In many cases, adjustments to your system can be made remotely in order to eliminate or reduce costly downtime. Imagine your scale service provider fixing problems before they happen or appearing on site to make adjustments before a failure occurs. Without a doubt, the technology of today allows us to communicate more for effect than ever before – weighing devices included.
Recently we had a customer get odd weight readings with an outbound truck scale after hours. The terminal was consistently showing weight values on the scale, even when there was nothing on the scale. A service call was placed and the technician on call happened to know the scale from our preventative maintenance program. Our customer allowed the technician to log in from home using a remote access portal which allowed him to view the status of the components. He found that the load cells were all showing weight with no major indication of error. However, one end of the scale was showing slightly higher readings than the other which would indicate that a bind may be causing the issue. Our technician asked the customer to check the scale for potential binds and sure enough, that was the issue. A little bit of water to wash it out and the scale was weighing back to normal.
In solving the problem over the phone, our technician helped the customer avoid a service call and limit downtime, saving the customer money in both the service call and the opportunity cost. METTLER TOLEDO IND780’s combined with POWERCELL® load cells give the ability to set up remote monitoring of systems. This allows for any number of remote networking possibilities for both internal and external use.
Remote monitoring for factory automation is available today and it works utilizing technology that is familiar to most IT departments. . The IND780 terminals set up a remote wireless access site that is hosted on your servers. Which means it is only available to approved individuals inside of your organization or via an approved remote VNC connection by outside entities, like a remote scale maintenance technician. That keeps your production secure and keeps IT departments happy by utilizing time-tested secure networking practices.
Remote monitoring is only the start for factory automation. Many devices also utilize predictive maintenance software in conjunction with remote monitoring. If a system starts to fail, the system will immediately inform the responsible personnel for corrective actions before your product and production is compromised. Predictive maintenance can be set up to monitor:
Another customer in the food and beverage industry uses centralized PLC controls for just about everything in their facility. All equipment can be monitored and controlled remotely though advanced factory automation. They recently told us about a time when a weigh module failed on a tank application during a batch. The IND780 was set up with predictive maintenance features and notified the operator when a load cell failed. While in a meeting offsite, they paused the batch, checked the scale readings, initiated the run-flat feature on the weigh modules, and started the batch back up. The customer was able to salvage the batch and keep running for the rest of the day. We were onsite with a new weigh module and calibrated the system the next day.
How much does a bad batch cost? For some customers that can be almost $2,000,000. What about downtime on a truck scale application? Figuring out that cost helps to determine the usefulness of these products for your application. Predictive maintenance has been the secret weapon for many organizations looking to increase their profits. Equipment now has the capability to send notifications when problems arise, to prevent million dollar mistakes, and to allow for peace of mind in a production environment. Technology allows organizations to be able to control their equipment from miles away, while still maintaining profitability. Taking the time to use equipment that can grow with your organization easily pays for itself time and time again.
These features are standard on the METTLER TOLEDO IND780 when used with POWERCELL® load cells. POWERCELL® technology can be found in METTLER TOLEDO truck scales, weigh modules, and now floor scales! TraxEMT™, RunFlat, and remote monitoring are just three of the many features found in METTLER TOLEDO equipment. This technology has saved thousands of hours, time and dollars for our customers in a variety of industries. Contact us for a free asset evaluation to see if remote monitoring, predictive diagnostics, or other factory automation technology is right for you.