At Hitec Electric, we install equipment in remote places. Getting service engineers to those sites can be a mission, and sending parts takes time. That is why we have developed specialised solutions to properly maintain remote systems. A key ingredient is reliable remote access to the machinery. The ability to continually access the equipment to monitor its status, from our office or on the road, is crucial for technical support.
We have developed a dedicated device for this purpose: the Hitec Electric Communication Controller. It establishes a permanent, internet-based secure connection between the equipment and our monitoring systems. We designed the device based on a reliable embedded computer built for tough industrial environments. It fits all our systems, both old and new.
With the Communication Controller, we can access the units as if we were on site. This access may be ad hoc—for example, with the Hitec system diagnosis software—or 24/7 with a SCADA system. As long as there is internet at the location, we can inspect the system remotely. The latest version of the Communication Controller supports wireless (4G, Wi-Fi) and fixed internet connections out of the box.
Such a communication channel is suitable for IP-based data communication. Older systems, however, do not support this technology but use older serial communication standards. Therefore, we integrated a gateway that translates Modbus over ethernet to serial-based Modbus. This way, we can monitor older Hitec units over the internet without additional convertors or programs.
The Communication Controller runs open-source software and supports common standards like Modbus and SNMP, allowing us to eliminate license cost and vendor lock-in. This is important because the controller is essential to delivering excellent support services and therefore must be affordable and versatile, without usage limitations.
As an application example, one Communication Controller monitors a site with four diesel UPS systems. Some of these are close to 15 years old and have only a serial Modbus connection. Recently, we equipped these units with a new bearing condition monitoring system that has an ethernet interface. In addition, we added a SCADA system to monitor the UPS installation both on site and remotely. Our service engineers can access the UPS system for diagnosis anywhere, anytime.
This condition-monitoring system has proved invaluable to our customers’ operations. It continuously monitors the condition of a machine and picks up initial wear well in advance, so there is sufficient time to arrange repairs before the machine fails. As we discussed in our previous blog post on service in Chad, planning and preparation are key ingredients to support in remote locations. Unexpected failures are often costly because of their consequences for the client, which create time pressures for a repair. This is why we put a lot of effort into preventing unexpected breakdowns.
If the UPS system gives an alarm, we help the local operators to identify the cause and resolve it. With our monitoring software, we can determine the nature of the problem, allowing us to send the correct spare parts and arrange for an appropriately skilled on-site engineer. This saves valuable time and money.
The Hitec Electric Communication Controller is a small but invaluable component in our service offering. We cannot do without seamless remote access. Can you?
Do you like this article? Subscribe to our newsletter for more updates and information.