Stronger industrial networks toughen pandemic responses

Aug. 17, 2021
Nakayama Iron Works uses Ewon Cosy industrial VPN gateways from HMS Networks to interface with Keyence and Panasonic PLCs, HMIs and IP cameras

Beyond getting more people vaccinated, one of the best ways to fight the impacts of COVID-19 is to expand Ethernet networks, Internet connections and cloud-computing links that can give users more remote access and implement other digitalized tools that can support them.

For instance, Nakayama Iron Works Ltd. in Saga prefecture, Japan, has been adding increasingly advanced automation to its rock crushing machines, and needed a better and faster way to monitor, access and maintain them for its clients. "The number of our PLC-based machines is increasing, so we're receiving more support requests," says Tadashi Sezaki, deputy manager of the plant division at Nakayama. "Moreover, our customers’ requirements, as well as the way our systems are controlled, are becoming more complex.”

To let its staff and clients communicate directly with its rock crushers that are often installed in remote locations, Nakayama needed a simple, easily applied remote-access solution that could also interface with a range of technologies, including Keyence and Panasonic PLCs, HMIs and IP cameras. It reports that it adopted Ewon Cosy industrial virtual private network (VPN) gateways from HMS Networks because they're manufacturer-agnostic, and don't require procedure changes to connect to the controls and other devices used in Nakayama's rock crushers. Ewon Cosy connects via Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and 3G and 4G/LTE; has a setup Wizard for establishing a link to Ewon's free Talk2M cloud-based service in minutes; and uses 24 VDC power that let's it fit into the control panel of Nakayama's machines (Figure 1).

Sezaki adds that Ewon Cosy simplifies troubleshooting by making direct VPN  connections to machines in the field, which also reduces the need for travel and improves customer service. “Before using Ewon Cosy, we usually had to go back onsite a few days after installing a new machine, carrying a laptop PC to do some adjustments in the PLC's program or implement some last-minute requirement of the customer," explains Sezaki. "Now, we don’t need to travel for such operations. We can stay in our office, saving time and money. Moreover, we can provide much faster responses to our customers.

“When a problem occurred in the past, we usually had to rush to the customer's location to diagnose the situation, return to our office to do some preparations, and go back onsite to repair our machine. Since we started using Ewon Cosy, we can immediately begin by connecting to our machines via Talk2M, and do diagnostics remotely to check the cause of the problem. In most cases, we can even solve the issue remotely by adjusting the PLC program, or giving some simple instructions to our customer over the phone. Problems can generally be remotely solved in about two hours on average, which saves more time and further reduces unnecessary travel.”

About the author: Jim Montague
About the Author

Jim Montague | Executive Editor

Jim Montague is executive editor of Control. 

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