Today’s remote monitoring systems are robust, versatile, and feature-studded, partly thanks to rapid advancements in data logging and the Internet of Things (IoT) technology. Remote monitoring is currently widely used by many industries, ranging from medical device manufacturing to food suppliers, and many more, to perform environmental monitoring, troubleshooting, and maintenance.
In highly regulated industries like the pharmaceutical sector, remote monitoring solutions help organizations have a clearer, more holistic view of their supply chains, field processes, and personnel. For instance, a network of data loggers can be integrated into the cold chain to effectively and continuously monitor environmental factors like temperature. As a result, they can ensure product integrity, protect valuable assets, and help ensure regulatory compliance.
Continue reading to learn more on how remote monitoring systems work.
Getting To Know Remote Monitoring Systems
As the name indicates, remote monitoring systems are solutions that allow organizations to efficiently keep track of processes, facilities, resources, or conditions from a distance (aka remote locations). In essence, they require fewer or no on-premise personnel to accomplish complete monitoring of whatever is mission-critical to your organization, be it inventory, personnel, conditions, or the entire supply chain.
A cloud-based environmental monitoring system is a perfect example. It’s designed to automatically and continuously collect, monitor, and document conditions like temperature, humidity, or contaminants. That eliminates the need for someone to be at the facilities in person to log this data over time manually or to check on automated monitors.
The data captured is usually dispatched over the internet to a central storage and retrieval system, such as a server or cloud-based service. This represents the most cutting-edge solution for companies to automate and stay on top of their environmental monitoring needs. Not just that, remote monitoring can also boost operational efficiency, reduce operating costs, and eliminate the chances of human error.
How Do They Work?
Remote monitoring systems can vary considerably depending on their intended purpose. A cloud-based system, for instance, generally has four pertinent components that enable constant and efficient remote monitoring:
- Data loggers – Every remote monitoring solution uses sensors that continuously gather data from many different target equipment and areas in your facility. Data loggers can be installed in warehouses, manufacturing points, packaging stations, and other zones across all your sites.
- The cloud – Data capture by loggers is typically sent directly to a cloud-based application via WIFI or other internet connectivity. Once it’s been uploaded to the application, the data is analyzed, stored, and documented. The application also generates reports and alerts based on the data trends.
- Alert system – The cloud-based software application is programmed to send out alerts of environment excursions via text, email, or phone call. These alerts enable personnel to take corrective steps and respond to excursions in a timely fashion.
- Data access interface – Personnel can use this cloud-based interface to access monitoring data, generate reports, and much more in real-time.
According to Dickson, most remote monitoring systems are powered at their core by next-generation cloud-based computing and IoT sensor solutions. And with such remote capabilities, these solutions offer a myriad of advantages over on-premise monitoring:
Improved protection of assets: Constant remote monitoring of conditions exposed to sensitive products like vaccines, drugs, and food can help ensure their quality and integrity. For instance, monitoring vaccine temperature can be the most effective preventive tool in dealing with vaccine spoilage and wastage, which accounts for up to 50 percent of vaccinations shipped globally.
Enhances safety: Remote monitoring not only reduces employees’ exposure to hazardous workplace conditions but can also help identify potentially dangerous situations that can then be mitigated before they pose significant challenges to your organization.
This makes even much more sense during the pandemic, as organizations are still trying to reduce their on-premise workforce in favor of remote working to help curb the spread of Covid-19.
Holistic monitoring: IoT sensors and data loggers can accurately track whatever environmental or other conditions your company needs to monitor. These can be environmental conditions like air quality, CO2 levels, moisture levels, temperatures, or other aspects of the environment you need assessed regularly. Or perhaps equipment factors like energy consumption, output, etc., need to be regularly measured.
Increased operational efficiency: Remember, data is collected remotely, removing the necessity for manually checking each sensor and downloading the data. Cloud access also saves resources and time for internal IT teams. They don’t have to dedicate a lot of time to maintaining software and servers.
Saves money: The asset protection, increased operational efficiency, and enhanced employee safety benefits of remote monitoring systems can also have a financial benefit. In addition, these solutions reduce the number of on-premise personnel and diminish the chances of excursions causing costly damage to assets and products.
Ability to get more granular data and improve visibility: Whether you’re tracking the ambient temperature of vaccines or managing the central heating system, cloud-based data sensors can collect, monitor, and document more detailed environmental data.
For example, instead of just reading the ambient temperature of the entire cold box, you can put multiple data loggers at multiple sites in, for example, the cold chain for vaccine storage, ensuring more holistic and strategic environmental monitoring. The loggers can monitor the humidity, potential air contaminants, air quality, light levels, and other conditions simultaneously. Having this heightened level of assessment and measurement is the first step towards ensuring product safety and efficacy.
Proactive maintenance: Cloud-based remote monitoring systems can be designed to send alerts to relevant people when problems arise or are about to happen. For instance, data loggers can be configured to send notifications to supply chain managers when the temperatures of the products go out of range.
IoT sensors like data loggers can also be paired with artificial intelligence and machine learning technology. In this way, you can use predictive analytics to detect when conditions or equipment are likely to go out of range or fail, respectively. This enables you to make proactive adjustments and engage in preventive maintenance.
Remote monitoring solutions use data logging, IoT, and cloud computing technologies to allow organizations to monitor conditions, detect errors, and alert the right people if conditions go beyond acceptable parameters. They help optimize operational efficiencies, protect assets, and improve employee safety.