A scenario that is globally familiar: A company operates thousands of multifunction printers at various global locations. Employees authenticate themselves at each device via RFID badges to approve print jobs. If a technology change in the employee ID cards is required, all RFID modules must also receive an update. With Elatec's remote management solution, a global software rollout over a network is just a push of a button away.
“Elatec comprehensively supports its customers in the implementation of remote maintenance over the network. On the hardware side, we provide all the information required for an efficient solution. Cost and time savings can be permanently realised with a remote management application,” said Andreas Johne, Head of Product Management, Elatec.
Implementing software maintenance
The software of embedded Elatec RFID reader/writers in printers, time recording systems, or e-mobility charging stations, for example, can be reconfigured or updated. There are three methods for implementing software maintenance: "The most time-consuming method is to remove each reader and install an update by connecting it to a laptop. More efficient is the use of an upgrade or config card.”
“The card is held in front of the built-in reader in order to impart new configurations. Both methods have the advantage that a visual inspection of the device takes place automatically. However, the time required for manual maintenance of over 10,000 devices within a company is enormous," explains Christian Rötzer. "If maintenance concerns the reader's software, remote maintenance is the most efficient way.”
Remote maintenance solution
Remote maintenance enables the update to be completed on all devices within ten minutes
If a manufacturer of multifunction printers, for example, relies on a remote maintenance solution from Elatec, the ROI is often already achieved after the first firmware update. A simple example underlines the efficiency gain of remote management via a network: A bank operates between one and three printers in each of its 100 branches throughout the country. The integrated RFID readers are to be given a new function.
Due to the large distances between the bank branches, a manual update of around ten printers per day is possible. Remote maintenance enables the update to be completed on all devices within ten minutes. "Exact planning is another benefit of remote maintenance. An update can take place in the morning as soon as the servers are started up and even before the employees are in the branch. Workflows are not disturbed by the presence of a technician," confirms Andreas Johne.
Ensuring an efficient integration
Elatec’s products provide a high level of security: a bidirectional end-to-end encryption is supported. Customers may retrieve information on the configuration currently installed on the readers in use at any time and check their status. When the remote maintenance is performed over the network controlled by the company IT, the manipulation risk is reduced further.
Christian Rötzer says: “The implementation of a remote maintenance solution is up to the manufacturers of the devices and the customers. Beginning with the IT employee who distributes the updates over a network to every individual reader, different steps need to be taken. Multifunction printers usually have an interface suitable for remote maintenance. The ‘last metre’ between the printer and the Elatec module installed for remote maintenance requires a software interface.”
The flexibility of the Elatec hardware is the decisive factor ensuring an efficient integration
All of the physical interfaces our clients require are available from day-one. The flexibility of the Elatec hardware is the decisive factor ensuring an efficient integration. “Our RFID modules support numerous interfaces such as USB, RS-232/V.24, RS-485, and special device interfaces. For integrators, there is a powerful spectrum of interfaces to realise secure and future-proof solutions,” explains Andreas Johne.
Different transponder technologies
Elatec RFID readers are used when a device manufacturer or integrator meets an unfamiliar, heterogenic card environment. The readers of the TWN4 product family support more than 60 different transponder technologies. “The focus of remote maintenance on Elatec modules lies on the efficient installation of updates and upgrades. Other solutions available on the market are more broadly positioned.”
“They offer a multitude of functions which might not be required. We comprehensively assist our customers in creating a remote management following their requirements. Offering individualised maintenance packages according to the end customers’ needs is a part of our holistic service portfolio. With extensive update opportunities, customers achieve a significantly longer lifecycle of the devices used. This saves costs and automatically ensures that all RFID readers deployed at the company run the latest software,” reports Christian Rötzer.
Remote maintenance solutions
Our aim is to consistently integrate further services into our remote maintenance offer"
The demand for remote maintenance solutions is continuously increasing and requires continual development. “Our aim is to consistently integrate further services into our remote maintenance offer. In the future, interfaces like CAN bus for applications in the industrial environment will be supported, among others,” Andreas Johne points out.
Christian Rötzer adds: “Another development goal is remote maintenance via app. This opportunity is particularly interesting in the case of e-mobility charging stations, as the network connection in this case is established via radio signal such as GSM.” The integration of cloud-based applications and the support of almost all platforms including Linux and Android are other decisive aspects the Elatec specialists also implement on the enterprise level.
“The TWN4 product line, which supports more than 60 transponder technologies, benefits from remote maintenance via network. Companies can react to new requirements quickly and in a targeted manner. We realise the operation and the distribution of updates and upgrades with Linux or Android-based solutions – or alternatively with OEM branded tools.” Christian Rötzer, Head of Development, Elatec.