The company has developed the capability to remotely commission and start-up new unit machines throughout the world, according to a press release. Engineers and process technologists in the UK work with the customer’s engineers using video links and software access.
Most unit machines can be remotely commissioned with system access allowing Baker Perkins’ engineers to monitor machine performance via software and video links providing visual information. This information is supplemented by audio descriptions from the customer’s staff. Operator training can also be carried out on-line.
Remote support of an extruder installation in India used an industrial router mounted in the control panel, which enabled remote PLC access via a Wi-Fi VPN connection. The router is now fitted as standard to all new Baker Perkins machines but cannot be used without the customer granting access.
The MPX50 extruder in India is now in full production: a video link allowed step-by-step guidance from the company’s technician in the UK to the customer’s engineer on-site. This facility allowed Baker Perkins technicians to remotely assist during commissioning/start-up, and then provide ongoing support when required, with the ability to evaluate and give the advice to solve problems and improve performance throughout the machine’s life.
Remote commissioning is an extension of existing capabilities where, with the customer’s permission, Baker Perkins can log in to a machine regardless of location and, providing there is access to the Internet, carry out fault-finding and software updates. This feature allows Baker Perkins to modify equipment functionality, including the options to add upstream and downstream equipment to the existing control. These alterations can be made with minimal cost.
Crucially, the secure and certificated VPN connection does not have to be permanent and does not require interaction with customer IT systems. Customer security is not compromised as access to their internal networks is not required and there is no inter-connectivity with customer IT systems.
Other benefits are that the system can gather and store up to 20 days’ worth of extruder process data. This can then be accessed remotely for analysis or extraction. Baker Perkins technicians can evaluate extruder process data and advise on improvements to overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) or identify the causes of production problems.