Estimates assume that up to 60% of errors can be resolved or at least supported via remote access. Remote maintenance via a telecommunications or internet connection means users have access to data worldwide, wherever they are located, 24/7. This delivers the ability for such things as analysing and correcting errors, setting up and maintaining the plant, as well as carrying out optimisation work.
Weidmüller's u-link remote access service offers a system that is easy to install, easy to configure and easy to manage – and guarantees a high level of security at all times.
In addition to high security standards, the usability and flexibility of remote access systems are also important. Users need to carry out the configuration easily and independently, with a clear overview of the plant out in the field and with a connection that is established with a single mouse click. Connections need to be set up and disconnected rapidly and switching between different devices also quick. The administration of the entire system should be clear cut and users should have no need for in-depth IT expertise.
System security is critical, as remote access always forms an interface to the outside world. An account should have sufficient security features, such as two-factor authentication, protection against brute force attacks and a password policy. Devices should be be authenticated using certificates with a sufficient key length, e.g. X.509 certificates with 2048-bit key length, and communication directed out via known ports such as 443. Other available features that should be included consist of detailed user management with organisation administration, firmware management and additional access restrictions.
The benefits of remote maintenance system solutions are clear. There is no need to buy and maintain a server, no public and externally accessible IP address is required, and the systems are designed to be highly available and redundant.
u-link - a simplified and secure service in practice
Weidmüller’s u-link service for secure remote access is particularly easy and intuitive to use. It allows efficient management of production facilities as well as users. An intuitive interface can be easily configured to match the user’s system and quickly customised to meet specific design requirements. Security standards are designed in accordance with the recommendations of the "Federal Office for Information Security". All the servers accessed by u-link are located in Western Europe and meet all the relevant security standards. With the u-link concept, each customer receives their own, unique u-link details, which prevents third parties from accessing the plant.
Remote access with u-link means a connection is established with a single click. Steps for the connection run securely and quickly in the background and the technician, once authorised by the system operator, is connected to the network virtually, as though it were connected locally via an Ethernet cable. The technician is then able to view the plant visualisation and the parameters of the control. For example, the technician can quickly recognise in which section of the program the machine has failed. In this way, u-link can significantly reduce the time between reporting an error to the service team and restarting the machine. Regular machine updates can also be run by default via the u-link remote access service.
u-link - simple administration and setup
The administration of a remote maintenance system accounts for the majority of the later work involved. Therefore, it is all the more important that many actions, such as creating a new user, can be carried out independently during configuration. The simple administration of u-link provides detailed management of users, groups and their access rights according to individual specifications. Access can also be granted to an end customer or supplier, safe in the knowledge that they can only carry out actions that are relevant to them.
Administration work also includes firmware management. These updates often include security updates for each installed device and can take a long time. With u-link's firmware management, current firmware statuses are clearly displayed, and a secure method is offered to update them automatically at an individually defined point in time.
u-link's connection dashboard means the user has a smart diagnostic tool at their disposal. In the event of an error due, for instance, to a changed IP address, a pulled Ethernet cable, poor reception or a new firewall rule, the cause of the error can be quickly determined via the connection evaluation. In addition to diagnostics, per-second billing of service times to the customer is also available.
For more information, our IIoT page or call on 0845 094 2007.