While factory management at the click of a button might sound enticing, packaged goods companies say IT security concerns are the top barrier for adopting remote access technology.
Industrial remote access allows support teams to remotely connect to and manage computer-based equipment, according to remote access technology provider Ewon.
Malware and access to sensitive company information came up as specific concerns for the technology in a survey conducted for PMMI Business Intelligence’s 2022 report “Challenges and Opportunities for Packaging and Processing Operations.”
Surveyed OEMs also saw customer buy-in and acceptance of remote access by CPGs as a barrier to wider rollout, which the report says could be explained by companies’ security concerns.
Cybersecurity is not the only reason for resistance from companies. Other points noted in the survey included concern that legacy equipment would not support the technology, worries over a lack of knowledge or understanding of the technology, as well as cost and limited time.
“Some of our equipment will not support,” one CPG said. “Management time is limited in a growing organization.”
Conversely, a number of participants stated they were already using the technology within their operations. “We stress the importance of remote access,” one supplier said.
What Do CPGs Need from OEMs to Support Remote Access Adoption?
While companies have noted several barriers holding back remote access adoption, OEMs might be able to drum up acceptance through support. Companies want reassurances about the security of systems, provided by trusted advisers through a secure connection rather than public IPs to agreed standards.
CPGs also stated they wanted to see information about what can be achieved through remote access, more details about what is available, and easy training and adoption of solutions.
One CPG said OEMs need to “provide what remote technologies are available.”
The survey showed interest in the technology, but also a feeling that remote access technologies need to keep up with cybersecurity threats, and to be made simpler and more secure in order to reassure end users about their overall effectiveness. When asked where such technologies are falling short, participants said there are too many products and some still require video calls to be used effectively.
One CPG said they want “a basic service that's easy to operate, but robust enough to actually benefit the plant.”
By tackling some of the usage and set-up problems, as well as addressing security concerns, OEMs can provide the remote access solutions customers require.
Remote Access Applications by the Numbers
Remote access can have a number of unique applications, but perceptions of usefulness vary depending on the stakeholder.
Installation support was perceived to be the most useful remote access application. Over half (60%) of CPGs see this as a strong application. Over 70% of OEMs and system integrators believe the same. Programming upgrades were the next most consistently valued, with over 60% of all CPGs, OEMs, and system integrators supporting it.
The next most popular use for remote access was fault or break-fix applications. Over 60% of CPGs value this application, and just under 60% of OEMs feel the same. System integrators value this the most, with over 70% supporting.
About 50% of CPGs support remote access for diagnostics or analytics, while closer to 60% of OEMs and system integrators feel the same.
System integrators are in favor of remote performance monitoring more than other stakeholders, at nearly 60%.
Less popular among all stakeholders were predictive maintenance and version management as remote access applications.
By providing details on the capabilities, security and examples of remote access technologies for end users, OEMs have an opportunity to demonstrate how they can deliver benefits to their customers.
Source: PMMI Business Intelligence, 2022 Challenges and Opportunities for Packaging and Processing Operations.
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