Today, customers can choose from a wide range of services for the entire lifespan of their plants and equipment. These offerings already start with the delivery of a plant and include not only the mechanical equipment but also electrical/automation systems, digitalization, and other technical services. Customers want to focus more on their core business activities. To this end, SMS group offers software as a service (SaaS) and equipment as a service (EaaS) models and supports its customers as a true lifecycle partner throughout the entire lifespan of their plants and machinery.

The spotlight here is on digital solutions for collaborating with customers over long distances. This relates on the one hand to remote assistance, which gives staff members customer-approved remote access to the plant, in order to carry out troubleshooting and optimization work. On the other hand, customers are supported by augmented reality (AR). Remote assistance can be given to service technicians working on site or to the customer’s personnel via video and audio technology. The expert has the same view as the person on site and can provide targeted support.

With its X-Pact® Service Portal, SMS group has created the ideal infrastructure for remote support during and after commissioning and offers this technical remote support capability with every new plant. SMS group relies here on products from its expert partner symmedia that provide a secure service portal connection and, thanks to the use of AR headsets for the equipment, enable a direct dialog with the customer's specialists via chat, audio, video or whiteboard functions.

What's more, a mobile version is now available that enables the customer's staff to initiate a service call directly from their smartphone. Therefore, within the global network of SMS group, both software experts and technologists from the development departments are available to answer any questions their customers may have. In this way, any unclear issues can be resolved straight away. This reduces overall costs and boosts the plant's performance.

Remote service representing the future

As one of the world's leading system suppliers of plants, machines and services covering the entire metallurgical value chain, SMS group creates customized solutions – no plant is the same. An ever-increasing IT penetration rate, global connectivity, and individual customer requirements are shaping developments in the steel industry. Remote service not only represents the future, it is also an essential component of autonomous plant operation – and Ralf Mackenbach, Vice President Service Electrics/Automation, Center of Excellence Technical Service at SMS group, is convinced: "We have been using the symmedia SP/1 service portal to connect with our customers for over 20 years and can assist them in designing their processes as cost-effectively as possible during the commissioning phase already. X-Pact® Service is an important element of our X-Pact® Lights-Out concept that provides for highly dynamic, resource-efficient plant operation. To enable our customers to sharpen their focus on their core business and strategic plans, we are already working with them to realize their vision of a lights-out factory. This means customers benefit in multiple ways, for example remotely controlling entire production complexes, fewer operating and servicing personnel working on site, a highly qualified team of experts providing support at any time, all year round, and much more. Customers expect not only holistic, efficient and future-proof automation solutions from us, but also competent advice and immediate support at all times during the lifecycle of their production facilities."