HMK Automation is the official UK distribution partner for IXON - bringing the remote cloud-based solution to our OEMs and system integrators in the UK.
IXON Cloud is the most complete IoT platform for the machine builder, allowing you to create your own IoT portal, connect machines, collect data, create alerts and remotely troubleshoot as if you were on-site – with just a few clicks.
Want to know more? Read the case study from GEA to hear about their first-hand experience of the benefits and implementation of IXON Cloud.
Who is GEA?
GEA is one of the largest suppliers of the processing industries, in particular the food processing industry. Their Refrigeration division started using the IXON Cloud platform to make use of the advanced user management system and to improve their service to customers.
Before the new IXON Cloud platform was launched, GEA was one of the first beta users to use it. They are very positive about the extended user management system that gives them a better overview and more control.
GEA is one of the largest suppliers in the processing industry, in particular the food processing industry. The company consists of various divisions, including their Refrigeration division (RT). They provide modern, safe and energy-efficient refrigeration plants, heat pumps and air conditioning systems for industrial use.
GEA allows their customers to keep their refrigeration systems safe and sustainable, with minimum energy and operational costs by encouraging the use of energy-efficient systems and actively promotes natural refrigerants such as ammonia, CO2 and propane.
Around October 2020, GEA RT started using the old IXON Cloud platform. They recently switched to the newly released IXON Cloud platform in order to benefit from the advanced user management system. GEA RT now equips every new project with an IXrouter.
Testing phase and migration to the new platform
Before using IXON Cloud, GEA used another remote access solution. They decided to start exploring other available solutions because their current one did not meet their requirements.
Kenny Schraven, Automation Engineer at GEA, was assigned to compare several solutions and started to test the IXON Cloud. In December 2020, GEA was one of the first beta users who migrated to the new IXON Cloud platform.
“We decided to switch to the new IXON Cloud platform as it is more user friendly and provides a comprehensive user management system. Migration to the new platform was really easy with the help of the Migration Wizard”, says Schraven.
Takeover of the touch panel without VPN connection
GEA uses the IXrouters and IXON Cloud to provide 24/7 service to their customers. Their software engineers are able to access all registered IXrouters and connect to the PLC and SCADA systems via both VPN and VNC.
“We can deliver instant service by easily setting up a VPN connection and troubleshoot a customer’s PLC. Furthermore, it is possible to remotely connect to an HMI device (touch panel) without the need of a VPN connection. This is the power of IXON”, says Schraven.
GEA’s front-line support is now able to assist customers due to this direct HMI device access. This means that only more complex issues are being forwarded to the automation department, which is more efficient. The engineer can troubleshoot remotely via the IXON Cloud without spending time travelling to the customer’s site. This is a major advantage for both the customer and GEA.
Setting up the user management system
At GEA RT, the user groups are arranged in a way that they can easily be linked to a device group. GEA organised their user groups in regions, so their employees can focus on their own region and aren’t distracted by information from other regions.
Customers of GEA also benefit from the way the user management structure is organised. In other words, the customer is able to manage their own user groups. The customer’s cloud login is linked to a certain IXON module which can only be accessed via a VNC connection.
The differences between the old and new IXON Cloud platform
Schraven is very positive about the easy setup and the possibilities of the renewed user management structure. He thinks the new IXON Cloud platform is more user friendly, since it’s divided into four different apps. In addition, the functionality for group and role definitions is strongly increased.
“It’s now even possible to add extra groups and provide access to a specific IXON module or group of modules”, states Schraven.
He continued: “Colleagues believe the IXON Cloud is very easy to use and configure. Complex operations and settings are not needed, within a short period of time you can set up a VPN connection and get started. In addition, service engineers are very happy about the mobile app. It’s also great that there are short communication lines with the IXON Product Support Team. I always receive quick and targeted responses to my questions.”
Benefits the IXON Cloud offers GEA:
Extensive user management system
Possibility to connect to an HMI device or SCADA system without VPN connection
No distraction from unnecessary information
Customers are able to manage their own user groups
Easy to set up and understand for every colleague and customer.