By installing eWON VPN routers and using the Talk2M Internet-based remote access system, food packaging company Proseal UK is now able to securely access, diagnose and quickly resolve issues on its tray sealing machines located anywhere in the world, via secure Broadband connections.

Offering customers a complete packaging solution, Proseal UK based in Adlington, Cheshire, manufactures an extensive range of manual, semi-automatic and fully automatic tray sealing machines, with throughputs from 6 to 180 packs per minute. These machines are designed to package many different types of food, from joints of beef and ready meals, to strawberries and sandwiches.

Paul Watkin, systems development manager at Proseal UK commented: “Our customers are packaging foods in high speed production environments and so require high machine reliability and availability. Downtime has to be minimised to avoid expensive disruption to production packing. They will lose money if a packaging line goes down; so any issues need to be resolved quickly. Furthermore, our machines can be installed anywhere across the world – from Europe, USA and South America, to South Africa or the Far East.”

“Our core values as a business are therefore quality, service, precision and rapid response. We provide our customers with 24/7, 365 days per year breakdown assistance on our tray sealing machines, wherever that machine is located in the world,” he added.

Prior to installing eWON routers on its machines, if a machine problem couldn’t be solved over the telephone or email, Proseal would have to fly one of its service engineers out to the customer’s factory to solve the problem, which was costly and time consuming, particularly if the machine was installed in Chile or Australia.

“These problems were often minor issues such as a machine operator setting up a machine parameter incorrectly, or a machine component failure, which needed replacing quickly. However, even such minor problems could still delay a production process and cost the customer valuable time and money. We therefore decided to search for a remote access and diagnostics solution for our tray sealing machines,” explained Watkin. 

After much research, Proseal UK came across eWON’s Talk2M solution and VPN router, via a recommendation from a UK-based automation supplier. “MAC Solutions visited our Adlington site to demonstrate the solution to us. We immediately liked what we saw and felt this was the simplest, most cost effective solution available on the market.”

“In order to test and fully understand the eWON router and Talk2M, we trialled the system on a customer’s tray sealing machine located in Inverness, Scotland. Everything worked very well and we could immediately see the benefits of the solution. With Talk2M, as well as reducing our service engineer call-outs, it’s as if the engineer is physically standing next to the customer’s machine accessing the HMI display or PLC, with a laptop,” stated Watkin.

EWON’s Talk2M (Talk to Machines) is an Internet-based remote access support and diagnostics service, available in the UK through Industrial Data Communications company M.A.C. Solutions (UK). The software offers a professional platform with all the security, reliability and traceability required by industrial applications. Talk2M is a secure and affordable service that enables OEMs, machine builders and systems integrators to provide remote maintenance, support and diagnostics for machines in remote locations. Talk2M can be accessed anywhere in the world, using secure Broadband and other secure wireless connections.

Since 2010, Proseal UK has installed eWON 2005CD industrial-grade routers on 80-90% of its tray sealing machines. “With eWON routers and Talk2M, we now have the ability to fix any machine problem quickly over a secure Internet connection, wherever that machine is located. Our engineers can log in remotely from our site in Adlington, Cheshire and diagnose a machine fault within minutes. If a machine component fails, our engineers can remotely diagnose the problem and advise the machine operator accordingly. It doesn’t matter whether the customer’s machine is in Inverness or Chile, remote access and diagnostics are just as quick and easy. And, if we have a technical question, the team at MAC Solutions have always provided us with the necessary technical support to get the customer issue solved quickly,” said Watkin.

“We are also starting to look at using eWON routers as data collection devices, which will enable us to provide our customers with valuable operational data, to help the customer make better, more informed decisions about their machines and packaging processes. Offering this type of service has already helped us to sell more machines,” concluded Watkin.