How Remote Device Management Does More Than Save Time and Money

(It does that, too.)

Tractor beams, deflector shields, and push-button “Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.” Although these things still live in the world of science fiction, some Star Trek-inspired technologies are here, and here to stay.

Among them? MSA FieldServer’s own remote device management (RDM) capabilities. While we’ve covered the topic of remote access before, we talked about it as it relates to helping workers do their job.

In this post, we’ll be talking about RDM in relation to third-party integration. To catch up on our third-party integration series, read Part 1: Overview here and Part 2: Notifications here.


In today’s world, there are literally thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of connected devices. At its core, RDM is the ability to access, control, or monitor a system’s components or devices from just about anywhere.

RDM is a great example of living in a world where sci-fi inventions occasionally come to life because this capability satisfies one of our greatest modern-day needs: instant gratification.

Like our other MSA FieldServer capabilities, RDM is about giving our customers the power to resolve issues right here, right now.

In our last post, we touched on RDM and a few of the many ways it can support another important MSA FieldServer feature, notifications. So, in this post, we’re going to look specifically at how RDM helps keep everything in correct working order.


Perhaps the biggest payoff of RDM is that it allows for access to data, diagnostics, and controls from any place, any time. Add in ease, flexibility, increased productivity, improved time savings, and greater cost effectiveness, and it’s easy to understand why RDM is a popular and growing feature for operations and facilities professionals.

Here are just a few of the many functions RDM offers:

  • Access and permissions management
  • Alarms, alerts, and other relevant notifications
  • Configuration management
  • Data collection and dissemination
  • Deployment and updates for firmware
  • Diagnostics and troubleshooting
  • Remote back-end access
  • Status checks and real-time monitoring


Of course, remote device management doesn’t just happen by itself. There has to be something that acts as a bridge between the remote manager and the device; namely software, a cloud-based network, and corresponding protocols to facilitate secure connectivity and communication.

Specifically, MSA FieldServer’s remote device management capabilities offer organizations and their smart environments these key benefits:

  • A centralized, single point of contact
  • Convenient, secure, and comprehensive device management from anywhere, anytime
  • High reliability to maximize system performance and uptime
  • Reduced operating, maintenance, and service call costs

Most industrial and building automation systems are multi-device environments requiring third-party integration. This makes setting up and managing the many and varying devices infinitely more complex. While most RDM solutions require a two-box solution, MSA FieldServer doesn’t. Our one-box solution is ready to go and ready to connect all your disparate devices – no expensive add-ons needed.


Automation systems have literally transformed the way smart facilities are run, making it possible to provide building occupants with more of the futuristic-type conveniences they demand. Keeping up with such demand and keeping all systems go, however, would be nearly impossible were it not for RDM.

Here’s a look at the primary ways remote device management can assist.

VPN (Virtual Private Network): With VPN, designated members from your service department or provider or authorized users from within your organization can access a wide variety of devices remotely, thanks to the installation of proprietary software on a desktop PC or laptop device. VPN via the cloud with MSA FieldServer gives these users the ability to connect instantaneously and remotely to any device, and do anything they would otherwise do if the device was sitting next to them – including reprogramming or changing setpoints. Not only does RDM with VPN reduce the time it takes to resolve issues, it allows other authorized users to jump in and provide assistance or expert support without delay. It’s important to note that any device changes can be made safely and securely through VPN.

Proxy Tunnel: Although sometimes confused with VPN, a proxy tunnel is actually a gateway that allows a user remote access to a web page on a device. With MSA FieldServer, as long as the ethernet device is connected to the same subnet, it can be viewed remotely via the SMC Cloud. Like VPN, this reduces the time it takes to diagnose and resolve issues, as well as provides access to other authorized users, as required.

Notifications: Alerts, alarms, updates, reminders, and other notifications are especially helpful when managing multi-device automation and smart systems. RDM complements this function by allowing the user to respond to the notification in whatever manner is appropriate, including changing configurations or updating firmware.

Access to Remote Device Data: When it comes to automated systems and decision making, data is everything. Thanks to RDM, users can have immediate access to critical data. Even better, MSA FieldServer allow data to be called up visually, whether that’s through a dashboard or in a “.csv” or “JSON” format.

Cloud Tunnel/System View: Because data is often best viewed in a graphical format, RDM gives MSA FieldServer customers the option of System View. System View allows them to log in to an embedded web page on the MSA FieldServer to see a visual representation of their data – data that includes status checks, as well as appropriate changing of data points, such as adjusting a temperature setup.

Third-Party Application Access: RDM is nothing without the ability to securely access data. With MSA FieldServer, we move the data from the customer to the SMC Cloud, enabling private access to all the data.

Time will tell if more sci-fi-inspired innovations make their way into our world (no doubt, at least a few will). Until then, we’re continuing our quest to develop best-in-class solutions to help make smart automation faster, easier, and more cost effective.

Contact us below to learn more. Then, keep coming back here for our continuing series on third-party integration. Up next? Data visualization.

Richard Theron
Richard Theron is the product line manager for FieldServer at MSA, where he works intimately with companies in the building automation, industrial automation, energy management and life safety markets to help them cloud-enable their equipment.

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