Improve Operationw with Five Key Areas to Remote Management

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Manufacturing firms have used remote management of automation tasks for a number of years and for a variety of reasons. But due to recent changes in technology and strategy, remote management has recently jumped to the forefront.

On the technology front, remote management is much easier to implement due to the proliferation of open. Systems, standard protocols and high-speed broadband connections. In terms of strategy, many manufacturers are refocusing their efforts on core activities such as uptime and safety, and relying on off-site assistance for remote management.

Remote management tasks can be grouped into five main categories: incident management, backup and recovery, software updates and patch management, real-time monitoring, and online edits. Each of these tasks can be performed in-house or remotely, with manufacturers making decisions based on their specific circumstances.

A recent study shows that most companies managing activities in these five areas in-house with no remote support are likely to expand the workforce performing these tasks over the next year. Conversely, companies that have embraced remote management are not likely to expand their workforce in these areas. These findings indicate that companies relying on remote support are generally better equipped to handle automation and IT tasks. This finding is critical, as many plants find it hard to justify, recruit and train automation and IT personnel.

Specifically, many companies, particularly those in the process industries, have difficulty finding and retaining professionals with the requisite automation and IT experience. And while companies need these resources to be available 24/7/365, most plants don't have enough automation and IT work to justify full-time employment. In many cases, this makes in-house execution of these tasks problematic. Even when manufacturers have the required expertise in-house, these experts may not be available when needed.

As a solution, the majority of these survey responders indicated that they use off-site automation and IT service providers, either as a stand-alone solution or in combination with  on-site staff. While the remaining manufacturers may already have an existing working internal plan, remote management can often improve these plans, as the costs of these off-site services are typically greatly exceeded by benefits.

For example, providing faster response  time to an incident through remote management has been proven to reduce downtime and repair costs - and the cost of just one avoided incident has been shown to completely offset the service price by a significant margin.

This article will discuss best practices in this area, and show the value of remote management by detailing specific, real-world examples.