Over the course of the COVID-19 global pandemic, Baker Perkins has refined the capability to remotely commission and start-up new unit machines throughout the world.
Engineers and process technologists in the UK work with the customer’s engineers, using video links and software access to provide step-by-step guidance through the process.
Most unit machines can be remotely commissioned with system access that allows Baker Perkins’ engineers to monitor machine performance via the software and video links that provide visual information on the end product. This information is supplemented by audio descriptions from the customer’s staff. Operator training can also be carried out on-line.
Commissioning, start-up, and training costs and time can all be significantly reduced as engineers do not have to leave Baker Perkins’ office in the UK.
Successful remote commissioning in India
Recent 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. It cannot be used without the customer granting access.
This extruder was installed at Asian Paints PPG. Sarang Powar, Senior Manager Engineering says, “Baker Perkins is a solution-oriented expert in extruders: Asian Paints PPG has been a longstanding customer of Baker Perkins. They have been an invaluable resource especially during the pandemic, when the MPX50 extruder was remotely commissioned seamlessly with the eWON Module.”
The MPX50 extruder in India is now in full production: a video link allowed step-by-step guidance from our 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 advice to solve problems and improve performance throughout the machine’s life.
Technology to outlive the Pandemic
This machine was commissioned at the height of the COVID-19 Pandemic, when international travel was severely restricted. However, the potential to reduce the cost and time required to commission unit machines suggest that this technology will continue to be used even after things return to normal.
Remote commissioning is an extension of existing capabilities where, with the customer’s permission, Baker Perkins is able to 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 additional benefits are that the system can gather and store up to 20 days’ worth of extruder process data – by comparison, standard platforms offer a maximum of 10 days data logging. 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.