Remote monitoring systems are fueling the proliferation of industrial revolution 4.0, partly thanks to the advancement in the Internet of Things (IoT) and data logger technologies. These systems allow organizations to have a clear, continuous, and holistic view of their processes, personnel, and equipment, as well as monitor environmental conditions that may impact their products and occupational safety.
In today’s highly competitive and regulated business environment, organizations must efficiently and consistently monitor conditions, assets and proactively detect problems. The ability to know when conditions are about to go out of range or to have early warning of a potential equipment breakdown can have substantial positive financial, reputational, and organizational implications.
Keep reading to learn more about remote monitoring and its five most significant benefits.
What is Remote Monitoring?
Remote monitoring entails the use of advanced, web-connected devices placed inside target environments or equipment. In this way, the devices continuously measure, record, and transmit collected data to a centralized location, most often a server database or cloud storage service.
The beauty of remote monitoring is that it provides the ability to track, visualize, and control facilities, assets, and environmental conditions without requiring personnel to be physically on-site. That’s all thanks to various technologies that work in tandem to monitor data from a distance. These include data loggers, transmitters, wireless networks, cloud storage, data processing, and analytics.
Remote monitoring systems offer organizations heightened visibility into environmental data, asset performance, and equipment health. As a result, they can reduce operating costs, predict equipment issues, and minimize the consumption of resources.
Even better, monitoring systems can work almost autonomously with little to no input from personnel once they are up and running. They can also act as alert systems, warning personnel of impending device failure or when conditions are about to go out of the recommended range.
Which Industries Can Implement Remote Monitoring?
Previously, remote monitoring was a preserve of the manufacturing industry that used Supervisory, Control, and Data Acquisitions (SCADA) systems. In this case, it was more justifiably called remote machine monitoring: a series of sensors was installed in machines to log and report on equipment health.
More recently, however, the application of remote monitoring has extended to a variety of other industries, including:
- Commercial building management
- Material refining and fabrication
- Healthcare, medical devices, and pharmaceutical
- Food and beverage production and distribution
- Cold chain logistics
- Oil and gas operations
- Wastewater management
As Dickson notes, cloud-based and IoT-based remote monitoring systems can play a crucial role in industries where timeliness and accuracy are critical. And they do offer many benefits over monitoring systems that lack remote capabilities.
What are the Benefits of Remote Monitoring Systems?
1. Helps improve asset protection
Remote monitoring systems can be hugely advantageous for safeguarding critical assets, such as facilities like clean rooms, fragile equipment like medical devices, and environmentally sensitive products like vaccines and drugs.
With remote monitoring capability, these systems make it easy to reliably and consistently monitor environmental conditions and the health of equipment. That’s not always possible with on-site monitoring systems that are greatly limited by personnel ability and size. Remote monitoring is particularly useful night shifts where fielding an entire staff can prove to be challenging.
The benefits of this scalable and centralized remote visibility become more and more apparent as critical variables expand and become more complex. Because they will require more attention and scrutiny, remote monitoring enables companies to more efficiently assess conditions and track them with a high level of efficiency needed to ensure regulatory compliance.
For instance, recently approved Covid-19 inoculations like the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine must be kept at ultra-low temperature during both storage and transportation. These conditions are essential to ensuring vaccine safety and efficacy. If the temperatures go out of range, the vaccines may deteriorate and lead to asset loss (for example, vaccine spoilage and wastage, accounting for up to 50% of global shipment).
Organizations can tap the power of cloud-based or IoT-based remote monitoring systems to efficiently identify and correct any conditions that may compromise assets, such as batches of shipped vaccines. Let’s not forget: lapses in temperature and other conditions can have considerable logistical and financial consequences.
2. Helps lower operating costs
Cloud-based remote monitoring solutions provide organizations with intelligent insights that they can leverage to optimize asset productivity and lower operational costs. For example, the ability to monitor and control facilities and conditions remotely means that organizations require fewer on-premise personnel, which to reduced costs of operations and an improved bottom line.
3. Facilitates regulatory and audit compliances
Various regulatory, accreditation, and certification bodies call for consistent monitoring of environmental conditions and equipment. Continuous remote monitoring and cloud-based logs can help an organization easily meet regulatory requirements and pass audits.
More importantly, the availability of ongoing and verifiable data minimizes the chances of failing audits and non-compliance. After all, your organization will have a constant stream of documented monitoring data that will show consistency in conditions and serve as evidence that you addressed issues like temperature excursions.
4. Ensures product quality
This benefit is more amplified in highly regulated sectors like manufacturing, pharmaceutical, and medical devices. Companies need to ensure that products are uncontaminated and remain efficacious throughout the manufacturing and transportation process.
A good example is medications. Remote monitoring helps pharma companies stay on top of every bit of their drug supply chain, from the manufacturing point to the physician’s office where they are prescribed or administered. These systems allow pharma firms to easily and quickly detect temperature deviations that can degrade the efficacy of their vaccines.
5. Provides long-term return on investment (ROI)
Upgrading to a remote monitoring solution can save organizations money in the long term. These solutions usually diminish the possibility of human error and offer real-time alerts, thus preventing costly loss of assets and freeing up staff to take care of other critical tasks. The automation and long-term savings provided by remote monitoring solutions can help organizations gain increased ROI.