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From remote to predictive maintenance: How IoT refines a classic M2M concept

production worker Source: Bosch

Remote maintenance services have been used in the manufacturing industry for many years to maintain spatially distributed machines and equipment. Using a dedicated line, service engineers can establish a connection to a machine and access its control system. Depending on the available transmission mode and access rights, the engineer can provide passive assistance to on-site machine operators or even take active control of the system. The benefits are obvious: remote maintenance slashes travel and personnel costs while improving customer service by offering faster response times.

This recent surge in demand has fueled a boom in the availability of remote maintenance software for industry applications. However, many of these programs lack the necessary flexibility and “intelligence.” Typically, a separate PC or desktop environment must be set up for each active machine. In addition, the applications are not usually integrated in the existing system environment, so the data they collect cannot be incorporated into these systems unless it is entered manually or copied from a USB stick. However, these problems need not exist as technology already provides everything needed to address these issues.

Taking IT-based maintenance to a new level

Modern M2M software replaces the rigid structure of isolated local computers and 1:1 connections as it offers the possibility of connecting, managing and controlling an unlimited number of machines in virtual networks. This way, service engineers have an overview of all machines and can take action in the operating process remotely from one single access point. This provides a great benefit, but what manufacturers really profit from is the availability of all machine data.

"Predictive maintenance will help machine operators save costs by reducing unplanned downtimes, and will allow machine manufacturers to improve their business as well."

Aggregating and analyzing usage data

As Steve Hilton, guest author and lead analyst at Analysys Mason, describes it in his posts, we are transitioning from an M2M world to the Internet of Things (IoT), where the value lies in aggregating and analyzing usage data. In the context of machine maintenance, we will see the value of analyzing machine data to predict malfunctions. Being able to identify asset failures before they occur allows companies to take corrective action in advance and increase machine uptime. Since predictive maintenance solutions are based on the analysis of usage data, they become more powerful over a period of time as manufacturers gain more insights about anomalies in correlation with usage data.

Predictive maintenance

While predictive maintenance will help machine operators save costs by reducing unplanned downtimes, it will allow machine manufacturers to improve their business as well. For example, knowing about machine failures helps manufacturers plan and offer new maintenance services based on guaranteed uptime or optimize warehousing costs by having spare parts only on stock when they are actually needed. Moreover, it will help to increase product quality and shorten release cycles.

Predictive maintenance is only one example in the manufacturing industry where the intelligent usage of data adds value to existing concepts. In the same way, the IoT will offer new possibilities in optimizing production or logistics processes.

The impact of the IoT on maintenance processes

Learn how Industry 4.0 opens up new possibilities for preventive maintenance.

Gain a better unstanding of predictive maintenance. Steve Hilton offers his views.


  • 18. March 2014 at 14:42

    Using a software engineer to fix the problems has been done by many companies. However, unfortunately, sometimes there are also problems in software or in the equipment that can not be solved by the engineer. I have to hire someone more expert to fix it.

  • 12. December 2013 at 7:44

    Hi Alan. Remote access devices such as RHUB remote support appliances come with unprecedented security, wherein, you can decide whom to give permission for remote access of computers.

  • 10. September 2013 at 13:45

    Yes, you have to face the Security issuse. No question. But i experience that the IT responsible do exactly this by letting no system in the shop floor without having a complete overview over systems and dangers. And without havy testing and the proof of security. Some say they block but no Company would like to have the ‘out of order’ sighn in front of their plants caused by low security precautions.

  • 9. September 2013 at 18:43

    If you are going to permit remote access to devices, you will have to ensure that they are secure, before letting the world get at them. It’s not enough to try bolting security on after your basement’s been filled with sewage, or your pipeline blown up. The factory control world dismissed security considerations for many years, now they’re trying to block the damage.