Although SupportConnect is a new offering, MEAU has already pinpointed the value that the technology can deliver.
Unique Platform-as-a-Service offering eases remote management and support of factory floor equipment
For manufacturers, equipment uptime is imperative. In today’s complex operations environment, however, it’s not easy to manage and sustain. Heterogeneous systems and limited visibility into equipment health often force companies to react to problems on the production floor, which wastes time and money.
Mitsubishi Electric Automation Inc. (MEAU) launched a project intended to change that situation. The company makes industrial automation equipment used by equipment manufacturers and end-users. The OEMs—and their customers—require round-the-clock monitoring of plant equipment to ensure continuous uptime. But traditional remote service support from their automation vendors often has been based on proprietary virtual private networks (VPNs) that can be very expensive to deploy and manage.
In early 2010, MEAU partnered with ILS Technology to leverage ILS’ remote service cloud-based virtual service infrastructure. The result is Mitsubishi’s own Platform-as-a-Service offering, called SupportConnect, that provides visibility into factory-floor equipment and enables proactive maintenance services without the addition of a costly infrastructure investment or a team of specialists. SupportConnect currently has customers in pilot stages that are moving into live production.
Although SupportConnect is a new offering, MEAU has already pinpointed the value that the technology can deliver. A cloud-based remote management offering can increase sales opportunities through post-product services; it can become a tool that empowers the customer; and it can become the catalyst that creates stronger customer relationships through expanded service offerings.
“SupportConnect enables our OEM customers to better serve their end-user customers by providing them with a cost-efficient and secure means to remotely perform predictive maintenance and remediation,” said Sloan Zupan, MEAU’s product marketing manager. “In addition, both receive an increased level of support by enabling MEAU personnel to also assist on service calls via SupportConnect in cases where level 2 and 3 support is needed.”
Indeed, through the use of SupportConnect, Mitsubishi has found a cost-effective and efficient platform for achieving competitive differentiation. Support Connect not only enhances MEAU’s own support system, but opens the door for OEMs to create more value—and, potentially, revenue—through their own aftermarket service offerings.