30 Oct

Tools That Enable Remote Support

Tools That Enable Remote Support

One of Synergy’s standard support services is that of remote support, which allows our expert engineers to take control of a client’s computer. Regardless of the time of day, or the location of an engineer, updates, repairs and maintenance on control systems can be performed. While there are certain things that cannot be addressed remotely, a large number can. Remote access saves clients time and money when engineers don’t need to travel in order to immediately address site issues.

Synergy has been using a service called LogMeIn for remote access at various client sites. LogMeIn is a web-based application, meaning our engineers can use any computer with internet access to control a computer at a client site.

Recently, we looked into a complimentary service from eWON. Their units provide VPN remote access for PLC systems without the need to install much hardware on a client site. So long as the engineer has a computer with eWON software installed at their location, they can access the PLC system remotely.

The benefits of LogMeIn and eWON are undeniable. We call them complimentary because, where one may have a slight limitation, the other fills the need and vice versa. With LogMeIn, an engineer can access a PLC from any computer with internet access. However, in order to do their job, a PC with the correct software must be installed at a client site. In the case of eWON, only a computer with the right software installed can be used to remotely access a client’s system.  There is no need for there to be a PC on site because eWON allows an engineer to take direct control through software installed on their own computer. The engineer is not controlling a computer, which controls the PLC. eWON technology installed on their device is the computer and directly links engineers to the PLC system.

The correct system for a client to use is up to client goals. There are clear benefits to having remote access abilities using any PC in the world. There are also benefits associated with being free of the need to have a full computer system installed at a client site. With both LogMeIn and eWON options, clients have more opportunity to customize how their systems are be managed remotely by Synergy’s expert engineers.

23 Oct

The Third Internet Revolution and Security Demands

Rich Carpenter, chief technology officer of GE Intelligent Platforms, touched on the three internet revolutions in a Control Engineering article. The third revolution is happening right now and while it provides even greater opportunities for business, it also comes with its own risk.

The First Revolution:

The first internet revolution is rooted in the web’s very existence. People suddenly have access to information on a global scale. All the information in the world, and every opinion held, can be found within a few clicks.

Necessary security: Internet users need their computer to keep running so as not to lose pictures, documentation and other information stored on the device.

The Second Revolution:

Consumerism takes hold of the internet, allowing people to buy everything from cars to groceries online. Items bought online can be delivered straight to a consumer’s door.

Necessary security: Personal identity needs to be protected as well as financial information such as credit cards and bank accounts.

The Third Revolution:

Carpenter has named this third revolution the Age of the Industrial Internet, where machines and factory devices communicate with each other and with plant staff through an internet connection. This allows for an optimized process that is safe, more reliable and more profitable.

Necessary security: The internet is now linked to the most critical devices of our infrastructure. Previous concerns, such as loss of device or information, are still high, but another has been added. Loss of control is a huge safety concern. Security must be so tight as to ensure no one besides those authorized can communicate with a machine and yet simplistic enough that it is easy to use.

This industrial internet requires a level of security that goes beyond anti-virus software. Machines and site assets need to be programed with safety as a high priority. Intelligent software adds another level of security, so that a machine understands how to safely react to errors without a human user telling it to do so.

At no other time in history have we been able to so intricately design and program business assets. The continuing revolution of the internet provides greater optimization, reliability and efficiency. Safety is not to be forgotten, but it is also not suffering. That same technology which increases the need for safety also increases the ability to maintain safety.

Synergy programmers and engineers use the internet to remotely work on client assets. This means most problems can be addressed as soon as an engineer gets access to a computer. Without the need to travel to a client site for every problem, time is saved for the engineer and the client, resulting in faster maintenance and shorter downtime.

Is your security up to par with the third revolution of the internet?



16 Oct

The Asset Management Strategy

Modern instruments now go beyond customization and data collection. Each device in the field, be it an analyzer, valve or otherwise, can be programmed to collect larger varieties of data and disseminate it into actionable information. Alerts and device consistency can be constantly measured and updated, automatically collecting data for audits.

The above is the heart of asset management, operating intelligent hardware in a plant to ensure the fastest reaction time and actionable information. In short, optimized asset management provides the following:

  • Maintenance which considers the entire life-cycle of an asset
  • Real-time diagnostics
  • Dissemination of relevant information to different parties in the business
  • Central location for information
  • Pro-active maintenance
  • Extension of equipment life
  • Reduced downtime
  • Documented asset history

Installing an asset management system has long term benefits, but will require a culture change. Planning is critical because staff and plant engineers act as first responders to any issues in the plant. Decide where all information assembled by assets will be gathered and how it will be collected, making sure desired information lines up with the company mission and goals. With a plan in place, explain to the staff how the system will make their job easier and more efficient. In addition to earning their support, their feedback is crucial for optimization of the asset management strategy.

Collecting data, including asset trends, operating manuals, specification sheets and alert logs, is only half of what asset management provides. The benefits extend to pro-active maintenance that can result in the optimization of the plants as a whole.  Devices can be observed by their history, allowing those prone to failure to be identified and dealt with. Every asset in the plant becomes modifiable. This coupled with a pro-active staff creates a culture where operation can be constantly improved and strategies for monetary savings are always active.

With optimally implemented asset management, even plant areas that traditionally have only used up funds, like boiler rooms, become a site of monetary gain. The data provided by the system becomes an asset in itself, to be used as a tool to save money, fuel and energy.

This article was inspired by this Intech article


09 Oct

Invensys Acquires InduSoft

InduSoft devices - Invensys Acquires InduSoftIn late September Invensys announced it had acquired InduSoft, a provider of HMI and embedded intelligent device software for automation industries. Invensys has been a member of the Synergy team for 14 years. They are highly valued as they share our goal to provide safe, efficient and reliable systems to clients.

Founded in 1997, InduSoft has proven themselves as a source for quality HMI and software. The company won Control Engineering magazine’s Engineer’s Choice Award in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. Invensys President, Ravi Gopinath, told Control Engineering the acquisition strengthens Invensys embedded HMI and continues the company’s drive for growth.

Specifically, Invensys’s strength and expertise will grow in the following areas:

  • OEM and machine building
  • End-to-end HMI, SCADA and MES solutions
  • Integration of information and automation systems

InduSoft will be adding employees to Invensys operations in the United States, Brazil and Germany. We at Synergy Systems are proud to be allied with a high –quality HMI and software provider like Invensys who continues to strive for growth and excellence.





02 Oct

Rockwell Trains on PlantPAx


Revere Electric came to our office last week on behalf of Rockwell Automation to train Synergy employees on their new PlantPAx Virtual Image Templates. These templates were designed to work with Microsoft Volume Licensing and provide customer value by reducing the total cost of ownership.

The training also included an introduction to Stratus Technologies, a new partner of Rockwell. Stratus offers solutions that keep critical applications running 24/7 through the implementation of fault-tolerant servers, among other solutions.

After successful training, Synergy was treated to a barbecue lunch which was thoroughly enjoyed. The lunch was quickly followed by a birthday celebration for Synergy engineer Joe Zawicki. President Mark Urda was more than happy to lead the Synergy team and Rockwell partners in the traditional birthday song.

All of us at Synergy would like to thank Revere Electric and Rockwell Automation for their excellent training and for joining us in our celebration of Joe’s birthday.