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Minimize downtime of your roll forming line with online help

Samco Machinery provides rollformer troubleshooting  assistance via remote access

By Jim Harmer, Electrical Designer, Samco Machinery

For those whose business involves a roll forming line, nothing is more costly than downtime. When the line is not running, there is no product; with no product, there is no customer; and with no customer … well, you get the idea.

Obviously, the main objective when facing downtime is to get your line back up and running. It may require a mechanical fix because something has worn out or broken somewhere along the line. Generally, mechanical issues are easier to diagnose than electrical or software programming issues. Once it’s determined what needs to be fixed or replaced, your downtime is determined by the length of time it takes to fix or replace the damage.

A software issue, like an entry guide not lined up where it needs to be or a web width issue, may be trickier to accurately discover. Often times, these issues can be diagnosed remotely by the manufacturer of the machine. Remote accessibility for the roll forming industry is a technology that’s become more and more relied on during the last five years or so.

To assist customers through remote access, roll former manufacturers install the necessary hardware to make the remote connection. The customer only needs to ensure there is available internet access. The customer controls all access to protect the programming, so once access (on a secured connection) is made available to the manufacturer, someone can configure, monitor, or operate the roll forming line as if standing right next to the controller.

The customer controls whether remote access should be granted to the manufacturer. If access is allowed the manufacturer connects through a secured VPN (Virtual Private Network) connection. The manufacturer engineer then gains access to the system components including:

  • Programmable Logic Controller (PLC)
  • Human Machine Interface (HMI, or more commonly known as the touchscreen controller).
  • Variable Frequency Drives (VFD)
  • Servo Drives
  • Miscellaneous devices such as valve banks, remote IO blocks, and other networked systems

Some of the issues that can be diagnosed remotely include:

  • Sensor issues
  • Equipment configuration
  • Incorrect operator setup
  • Integration with other equipment
  • Fieldbus communication
  • Cycle time monitoring

Another advantage of remote access is the ability to modify or add future functions, devices or equipment. Samco Machinery’s remote access solution is able to diagnose more than 3/4 of problems the operator may experience with our customers in 34 countries. This quick and efficient troubleshooting method drastically reduces downtime … and saves the cost of what could be an expensive and time-consuming maintenance trip.

Before the days of remote access troubleshooting, a maintenance trip was usually involved in the solution. There were times a maintenance trip ended up being a quick visit. As an example, sometimes a sensor gets unplugged during cleaning and doesn’t get plugged back in. Visits for those or similar issues ended with a chuckle and a handshake, but it was a necessary trip. With remote access capability customers can be helped far more quickly than a maintenance trip. This is especially true when working with customers in the global marketplace.

Remote access is a “peace of mind” benefit when purchasing roll forming equipment and there are many benefits. For instance, training, upgrades, modifications, and troubleshooting can be addressed; especially during the first few months of operation, minimizing downtime during startup. This keeps the roll forming line up and running and the customers looking for product off that line coming back for more. It’s hard to quantify the value of remote access, but the return on investment is evident and almost immediate.

Jim Harmer is an electrical designer working with Samco for nearly a decade.  He has over twenty years of experience working with automation and controls in various industries including material handling, pharmaceutical and automotive.  With extensive global travel he has commissioned lines in over 15 countries and 6 continents.

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