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JAN-FEB 2019

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R emote machine monitoring is becoming a common feature of automated equipment as part of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) implementations. The software and hard- ware required varies from vendor to vendor, but most use the same intranet- or Internet-based technologies. The use of these maturing technologies is making it easier and less expensive to implement remote monitoring connections to machines and processes. These remote monitoring connections are usually made to programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and human-machine interfaces (HMIs) via internal intranets or the Internet, often via a virtual private network (VPN) router. On the other end of these connections are devices such as PCs, smartphones, and tablets. Each of these devices has built-in digital communications with Ethernet connectivity. This remote connectivity goes beyond access for troubleshooting. In many cases, the remote devices are connected to the automation system to be eyes into the machine for optimizing operation, sending data and production information to engineering, and providing management with summary and analysis information. This article takes a closer look at the methods to remotely monitor a machine or process. Remote access to HMIs Many embedded and PC-based HMIs can provide remote access via PCs, smartphones, and tablets. The low cost and small footprint of an embedded HMI is a good example of common remote access connectivity via the HMI's web server to remote devices (figure 1). Because the HMI has web server functionality, web pages can be configured to reside in it, and these web pages can be accessed by any device capable of running a web browser. Embedded HMIs provide much of the functionality of a PC-based HMI, including remote monitoring, and are designed for industrial use in harsh environments. The comments below apply to either solution. Ethernet and wireless technologies—along with defense-in-depth, authentication, and firewalls—are making remotely monitoring HMIs through smartphones and tablets part of an operator's, manager's, or engineer's daily routine. A user can monitor several remote sites via a smartphone or tablet, allowing a proactive response to problems based on information pushed from the HMI (e.g., an email or text message). A "low parts detected" or "motor high temperature detected" message sent to operations and maintenance personnel provides real-time information that workers can act upon to reduce downtime and improve productivity. The data is pushed to users when necessary, with no need to open a browser and connect to the HMI, although this is often the next step to drill down for details. Some HMIs can log and store data on a periodic basis or when triggered by events. As part of a remote monitoring daily routine or when a message or alarm is received, the user can access the HMI via a web browser to view additional information. This same information can be sent to interested users by email using file transfer protocol (FTP). This type of remote monitoring provides usable information related to both real- time and historical trends to help reduce cost and downtime, while increasing productivity. 18 INTECH JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2019 WWW.ISA.ORG IIoT remote monitoring By Bill Dehner

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