As the bedrock of the modern factory, rotating machines are vital components of plant operations. They need to perform reliably, efficiently and safely under harsh conditions all the time. When they go wrong, it’s very damaging.
“Unplanned maintenance can cause havoc with production schedules as long lead times, particularly for large motors, are all too common. Complete change-out procedures are time-consuming and extremely costly,” says Peter Gardner, managing director of Turck Banner.
Given the importance of robust and dependable equipment in avoiding downtime, their maintenance and protection is paramount.
“The main concerns are pretty much the same as they have always been, and they are centred on bearing and motor wear,” says Gardner.
However, it is the way those weaknesses are addressed that’s changing.
Where once the upkeep of crucial machinery involved a largely reactive approach, as the IIoT creates a new world of ‘smart’ potential, the more proactive strategies of preventative and predictive maintenance are gaining ground.
Adopting a reactive strategy of simply scheduling maintenance tasks at fixed points regardless of their actual condition and only focusing on fixing equipment once it’s failed is hugely wasteful. While a more sophisticated conditionbased approach is better, taking a predictive route which combines condition monitoring information with a higher-level decision-making system improves not only reliability, but also overall business performance.
Karl Lycett, Rittal UK’s product manager for industrial and IT climate control, is delighted that some manufacturers are now integrating Industry 4.0 functionality into their products.
“It means users can monitor their equipment remotely, from a central hub, and receive updates if specified parameters are exceeded,” he says. “We’ve taken this as an opportunity to improve climate control monitoring and management by giving customers an interface that offers real-time updates of the temperatures within their enclosures.
“If changes are detected, for example – due to a drive malfunctioning and creating excess heat – then whoever is responsible can be notified in seconds and maintenance can be undertaken to rectify the issue before things snowball,” he adds.
However, although there has been a lot of interest and publicity in the UK surrounding the IIoT, Lycett believes there are only a relatively small number of early adopters who are trying to utilise this pathway to its full potential.
“These companies tend to either be large, innovative manufacturers with good financial backing and global presence, or small offshoot, start-up businesses who understand the future direction of the industry and are trying to get a step ahead while the principle is still in an embryonic state,” Lycett notes.
Turck Banner’s Gardner has also observed a degree of fear and reluctance from some companies to fully embrace the concept and advantages of IIoT in relation to rotating equipment maintenance. However, by “cutting through the jargon and providing customers with the correct information and support – it has paid dividends,” he says.
“We are now seeing the implementation of relevant devices increasing exponentially,” he adds.
Both Gardner and Lycett believe that the sheer volume of data that is available to be accessed is what makes companies the most nervous.
“I believe the reason for a slow uptake is a level of ‘data paralysis’ in which companies see plenty of evidence of its effectiveness, but do not understand how it can be implemented within their current processes,” says Lycett.
“The data analysis part is what causes the biggest problem for most companies as it is an area that they do not have any experience in,” says Gardner.
“They then look to outsource this which often results in a turnkey solution as the communication and compatibility of each part is critical to achieve the desired results,” he adds.
I believe the reason for a slow uptake is a level of ‘data paralysis’ in which companies see plenty of evidence of its effectiveness, but do not understand how it can be implemented within their current processes
Karl Lycett, product manager for industrial and IT climate control, Rittal UK
Turck Banner, a company which is at the forefront of sensor technology, includes a data division which specialises in both acquiring the right data and producing the analysis systems that can provide the results their customers need.
“Our customers don’t really care what the data looks like. They want the final result,” says Gardner.
Simplifying the process
Global automation technology provider Emerson’s solution to simplifying rotating equipment monitoring led to the development of their vibration analysis firmware PeakVue.
Unlike any other vibration monitoring technique available PeakVue not only alerts users to the presence of a defect but it also advises on the severity of the defect. It is believed to be a breakthrough in the monitoring of rotating equipment.
And now Emerson is further cutting through the complexity of machinery analysis with its release of PeakVue Plus.
This is a technology enhancement that brings prescriptive analytics to the field to help users improve the availability of rotating machinery, says the company.
The firmware streamlines the path from data collection to action and enables users to make timely, corrective decisions when analysing machinery vibration.
The main concerns are pretty much the same as they have always been, and they are centred on bearing and motor wear
Peter Gardner, managing director, Turck Banner
By embedding expertise into analysis algorithms, PeakVue Plus enables AMS 2140 Machinery Health Analyser users to see at a glance not only whether a machine is in good working order, but also the severity of an issue and whether it is related to a bearing defect or lubrication. This helps field technicians determine root causes and resolve equipment problems before failures occur and cause unplanned downtime.
“PeakVue Plus prescribes to the user the necessary corrective actions to preserve bearing life and ensure long-term availability of their assets.
It’s like having an expert available at the touch of a button,” says Emerson’s director of machinery health product management, Robert Skeirik.
He goes on to explain that this development means that it is no longer necessary for a large team of trained analysts to scrutinise a flood of data.
PeakVue Plus reduces the need for such a high skill level, allowing the end user to move past data into information that will lead to productive action. There’s a very quick path between measurement and response.
Looking into the future
“The current upsurge of products on the market that are embracing IIoT principles will enable more and more businesses to incorporate the functionality into their processes, so the adoption rate will increase, and the movement as a whole will gather steam,” says Rittal’s Lycett.
“As more companies utilise the IIoT, so more lessons will be learnt, and manufacturers and end users will begin to share ideas which will benefit the industry as a whole,” he adds.