Condition monitoring no longer needs to be restricted to highly skilled, experienced engineers, thanks to the advent of cloud-based condition monitoring systems, writes Schaeffler UK’s Steve Lacey.
Rolling bearings are critical components used extensively in many types of rotating plant and equipment. If they fail unexpectedly, it can result in high repair and costs for replacement.
Condition monitoring (CM) has been used for many years as an integral part of a predictive maintenance (PM) strategy.
Measuring vibration is one of the most widely used CM techniques for detecting and diagnosing equipment faults, enabling improved fault diagnosis, faster reaction times and reduced machine downtime.
To date, most CM systems have predominantly been used as local networks, collecting vibration data from machines and using analysis algorithms and a rolling bearing database to check for signs of wear, defects or other unusual behaviour.
While this works very well for many companies, imagine the added value of being able to share and compare your local machine condition data, via the Cloud, with other similar items of equipment across your plant, or better still, with other equipment at multiple plants within your business, wherever they are located throughout the world.
Furthermore, rather than having to rely on the local knowledge and experience of a skilled maintenance technician, a cloud-based CM system can provide a direct link to a specialist in vibration analysis.
Some CM systems now provide a direct link to the Cloud, to which data from CM systems and devices can be transferred. Automated diagnosis signals are processed from the raw data transmitted by the CM system and any other data that is available (for example, from the machine’s control system).
This means that vibration data is not only processed in the CM system itself but also in the Cloud, which offers greater processing power and more extensive analysis options due to the combination of this data with other machine control data. This increases the reliability of the diagnosis information the customer receives. For highly critical applications, users may also have the option of directly contacting the supplier (via the Cloud) of the CM system, who is an expert in vibration diagnosis.
The latest CM systems are quick and easy to install and set up, with the user requiring no specific skills or knowledge of vibration diagnosis.
These ‘automatic fault assessment’ systems are truly groundbreaking, as they help to minimise the skills, knowledge and experience required of maintenance staff or operators of the equipment
When changes occur in the condition of the equipment, the CM system automatically generates plain text messages on a display, providing the user with clear instructions for action, enabling any corrective maintenance work to be undertaken and any replacement parts to be ordered if required.
These ‘automatic fault assessment’ systems are truly groundbreaking, as they help to minimise the skills, knowledge and experience required of maintenance staff or operators of the equipment.
With ready-to-use, preset measurement configurations, these CM systems can identify the main causes of faults and display these: bearing damage, imbalance, friction/cavitation (for centrifugal pumps) and temperature increases.
For general changes in vibration patterns that cannot be clearly attributed to one of the above, the CM system can request, via the Cloud, additional analyses from a specialist.
CM systems can be preconfigured to monitor a range of rotating equipment (typically from 100 rpm to 15,000 rpm) that are supported by rolling bearings. These include electric motors, compressors, spindles, cardan shafts, fans/ blowers, centrifuges, vibrating screens, fluid pumps, vacuum pumps, gearboxes and geared motors.
- Steve Lacey is technology centre manager at Schaeffler UK