Most end-users are aware of the benefits of remote services and monitoring, but there are still significant barriers keeping some from adopting the technology.
That’s according to PMMI Business Intelligence’s 2024 “Trends in Remote Services and Monitoring” report. Cost of service is the most common barrier for end-users, who cite it as such over 10% more than other barriers like limited IT skills and cybersecurity risks.
Retrofitting older machinery is a hurdle
The additional cost of remote services is small compared with the cost of purchasing new packaging machinery. Despite this, about 60% of end-users see it as a barrier to investment.
This may be due to the initial upfront cost of retrofitting existing machinery so that it can connect to their local network to enable access into their operations. Although it is possible to retrofit old machinery and update operational technology (OT) systems, this can take a long time due to the technical complications, running the risk of an extended period of machine downtime.
There is also the issue of incompatibility with some machines, particularly if they are older.
As one medium-sized end-user explains, “We have a couple (machines) on our system that are over 40 years old. You’re not going to be able to retrofit that with […] anything digital because it just wasn’t built with that capacity.”
This problem also extends to remote monitoring and predictive maintenance, which require machines to have complex sensors.
Waiting out machine lifecycles rather than installing remote services
Some end-users would rather wait for machines to run through their lifecycle and replace them with updated models that already have remote services and monitoring capabilities installed, rather than commit to the cost of retrofitting.
“You’re talking about 25-year-old assets that have pieces of hardware that are obsolete,” explains another end-suer. “Almost every CPG company is in that position, and they are replacing assets because of lifecycle, which is a lot of what we’re doing also.”
As machinery reaches the end of its lifecycle, Business Intelligence researchers expect end-users to explore replacements that come fitted with remote services and monitoring capabilities.
It seems end-users are often unaware that OEMs can help them to retrofit their existing machinery to facilitate a remote connection.
Most (70%) of OEMs say they offer remote support services for both new and existing machinery, compared with about 43% of end-users utilizing remote support for new machinery only.
“Our vendors aren’t informing us about retrofitting the lines to do a remote setup,” says an end-user respondent. “Again, I’m sure there’s a cost involved with that, but I think that’s something that we may not be informed about […] so maybe our vendors need to better inform us on it, because we’re always looking at ways to improve our operations.”
SOURCE: PMMI Business Intelligence, 2024 Trends in Remote Services and Monitoring
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