How production companies digitize their service processes

trends, Use Cases

Remote maintenance and high data security at the same time - production companies have strict requirements when it comes to external access to their equipment. More and more manufacturing companies rely on the IT solution symmedia SP/1, with which machines are maintained and monitored. The only software authorized and certified by the Audi Group offers a secure and fast connection to the systems via symmedia SP/1 Remote Service. Machine operators and external specialists communicate with each other across plants in order to maintain the systems and eliminate malfunctions. With symmedia SP/1 Monitoring, all connected machines can also be monitored simultaneously. In the meantime, around 50 suppliers have been integrated into the certified system in addition to internal Audi specialists.

Like many other car manufacturers, Audi builds its vehicles in line production. Employees or robots carry out individual work steps at numerous stations one after the other, individual parts are connected to form subcomponents and these are then joined together to form the body. Although car production is precisely planned and controlled, malfunctions are inevitable. Maintenance must be carried out from time to time. In Audi toolmaking, the company's own remote maintenance portal is therefore of great importance to enable predictive maintenance and thus prevent production stoppages. symmedia has been supplying the infrastructure for digitizing production processes for this purpose since 2008 - symmedia SP/1. Since then, this has ensured uniform, digital standards in all plants. The car manufacturer does not only use remote maintenance in car body construction. The press shop, paint shop and assembly department are also connected to the portal. symmedia regularly offers training courses for SP/1 users to provide comprehensive support for all questions relating to the use of symmedia SP/1.

Production is changing

Previously, service and maintenance were carried out as production support. Employees operated the machines, had to be available at all times and had to have the appropriate expertise. However, the increasing complexity of the systems meant that plant operators had to rely on the expert knowledge of the technology suppliers for troubleshooting. "The task of maintenance at manufacturing companies has changed," explains Bernd Bertram, Director Market Organization at symmedia. "In the past, a direct connection to technology was unavoidable, but today maintenance increasingly provides engineering services and acts as an intermediary. Remote maintenance allows service technicians quick and virtual access to systems, but the many individual solutions are problematic when connecting several external specialist companies. It is becoming increasingly difficult to coordinate different technology suppliers and to guarantee data security and access control. symmedia SP/1 makes individual solutions redundant and implements personal access control. Audi today uses Remote Service and thus secure online access to machines and systems as well as Monitoring for monitoring.

Digital service processes

Audi evaluated the concepts of different system manufacturers in order to select the ideal partner for the digital implementation of remote maintenance. The challenge for the service providers was to meet Audi's strict IT specifications and requirements for data security and automated process control. symmedia adhered to all guidelines and IT requirements and offered the best solution. symmedia SP/1 is the only software certified for the machine components throughout the plant. In contrast, the remote maintenance portals of external suppliers could not be reconciled with the internal audit specifications. Remote maintenance via symmedia is carried out according to a defined procedure. If the plant operator detects a malfunction, he requests support. The server determines the external specialist and sends a service request. The service technician then logs on with a SecurID token and is connected back to the system within seconds. Only a limited part of the area from which the service request originated is released. In contrast to a conventional VPN connection, all other ports remain closed. The technician has access to the system on site and can actively intervene, transfer data or program the controller. After all work has been completed, the technician is prompted to create a report on the activities performed. This is archived in the plant file. After logging off, the remote maintenance is finished.

Monitoring and preventive maintenance of machines

The symmedia SP/1 software ensures secure and fast access to machines. In addition to the classic Remote Service, symmedia SP/1 Monitoring offers additional options for efficiently supporting plant operators in maintaining their machines. Through the acquisition of machine data and intelligent calculations, conclusions can be drawn, for example, about the current maintenance status of the systems or operating errors. The evaluation of existing data also leads to the development of new, needs-based solutions: In the future, preventive maintenance of plants and machines from a distance should also be possible.

Maximum machine availability

The aim of digitizing production is to make maintenance and process chains more virtual, to improve processes and to bring more automation into production. The networking of the systems plays a central role in this. symmedia SP/1 digitally maps the maintenance process and makes it possible to read out, filter and combine data from the systems. Information can already be called up at the Site Control on the machine, whereby only significant values are taken from the flood of data. The software is easy to use and the service can be called up at any time. Either the system operator initiates remote maintenance manually or the system automatically informs if previously defined limit values are exceeded. The up-to-date information about the maintenance status of the machines and the early planning of maintenance tasks enable the manufacturing company to maximize machine availability in a safe way. Downtimes are reduced and unplanned production interruptions avoided.

Certification and extended support

In order to guarantee the security of data on a continuous basis, the remote maintenance solution symmedia SP/1 is constantly checked and evaluated. Every two years, the software is examined for security by TÜViT and a new certification takes place. By using symmedia SP/1 as a standardized maintenance tool, production companies benefit from maximum security in handling sensitive data and the integration of many external component suppliers. The symmedia SP/1 Conference Center is used for digital communication and offers multimedia support. In the event of a fault, log files or images of the system are exchanged in order to rectify the fault as quickly as possible. In the future, this visual support for maintenance will become more important. Within the symmedia SP/1 Conference Center in the Remote Service area, maintenance receives extended support, for example by using the symmedia SP/1 Glasses data glasses.

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