With cloud-streaming data and live video from omnipresent cameras throughout the bakery, remote maintenance has become a reality. No longer do bakers and snack manufacturers need to wait for a technician to fly in to resolve a nagging, costly equipment breakdown.
With most everyone carrying a smartphone, bakeries and their equipment suppliers can use Skype and FaceTime to assist with troubleshooting equipment or even preventing problems before they happen. As a result, the virtual tool pouch for maintenance personnel now includes Ethernet industrial remote access routers to allow technicians access to plant networks, according to Baking & Snack in its September issue. Likewise, customer VPN connections directly into networks and software packages like TeamViewer tie computers together and allow real-time interaction over long distances. However, there is a downside to 24/7 connectivity.
In some cases, the biggest hurdle to remote maintenance involves companies that are hesitant to allow remote data collection — often for obvious reasons. The baking industry is full of trade secrets, and guarding those secrets is a top priority for many businesses. That’s something that became clearly obvious to the industry after Mondelez International suffered a malware attack this summer that has taken months — and millions of dollars — to resolve.
And privacy is now something that’s become increasingly top-of-mind among those 143 million consumers who may have lost personal data in a breach of the Equifax credit bureau. Yes, being connected can be a wonderful thing that enhances everyone’s lives and makes baking and snack companies more efficient. But it can also be a double-edged sword.