When was the last time you had to travel to site to repair a minor fault, or spent hours on the phone to someone onsite to troubleshoot a basic problem?
With a remote access gateway fitted to a compatible PLC/HMI control system, you can not only view and control your system from anywhere, but tweaks and changes to the PLC and HMI software can be remotely uploaded and tested.
What’s involved in setting up remote access?
Remote access can be fitted and set up in the factory, or retro-fitted to a control panel in the field. A remote access gateway needs to be installed, and an Ethernet connection established between the gateway, PLC and HMI.
For retro-fits, additional hardware such as an Ethernet switch and PLC communication card may need to be added.
How much does remote access cost?
The good news is that the whole solution is not expensive.
Depending on the capabilities required, the hardware, programming, setup and training can be all provided for between $1000-1500 + GST. If the solution saves you one trip to a remote site, it will have paid for itself.
Any ongoing costs?
The remote gateway connects to the Internet via a 3G/4G data connection, similar to a mobile phone. As such it requires an active SIM card with a M2M (machine to machine) data plan. These range from $5-20 per month. We typically recommend our customers arrange the SIM card, so they can remain in control of the facility.
What actually does remote access look like?
Below is an image of a remote connection on a smartphone to a control system over 3000km away. Once set up, you can simply tap on the relevant icon to initiate a connection. The connection will take a few seconds, and your HMI view will open up. From here, you can view exactly what’s your system is doing. You can press buttons and change settings exactly as if you were standing in front of the control panel. Once you’re finished, simply disconnect. The control panel will continue running exactly as you left it.
Is my phone or tablet compatible?
The remote access system utilises a standard, open protocol with very wide support. Virtually any modern device will be compatible, including:
• Windows, Mac or Linux computers
• iPhone or iPad devices
• Android smartphones or tablets
• Windows Phone and Blackberry smartphones
What else can I do with remote access?
• Update, upgrade or tweak the PLC or HMI software remotely
• Start or stop the system
• Conduct a remote product demonstration
• Lock out the system to prevent local access
• Set up email alerts of any critical alarms
What other options are there?
The standard remote access offering is ideal for small to medium PLC/HMI control systems. There are other options available, including:
An alarm messaging gateway can be a great option for relay logic
systems. Alarm messages can be sent via SMS or email, giving you
peace of mind that you’ll be notified in the case of anything going wrong.
A SCADA (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition) system offers a complete remote monitoring and control package which is ideal for clients who have multiple sites or independent control systems. SCADA systems are generally very expensive to set up and maintain.