Don’t let the luck of the Irishman determine the long-term success and service costs of your machines… seek out pesky Leprechauns in your machine fleets with Predictive Maintenance procedures, the Internet of Things and monitoring tech!
Predictive Maintenance (PdM) is the methodology of employing monitoring technology to help determine the health condition of in-service equipment in order to predict when maintenance should be performed before a catastrophic failure. We’re not talking about counting widgets made or gallons of Slurpees served (preventative maintenance), but, ahem, listening for the banging results of obnoxious leprechauns and gremlins in a machine. Monitoring technology includes cameras, a wide variety of sensors, and microphones.
In the past, PdM was the art of using statistics to model equipment failures, but, with the commercial reality of advanced sensor technology and the smart-connectivity of the Internet of Things, PdM has a whole new set of capabilities that are extremely insightful, valuable and likely differentiating for your organization’s service team.
A modern Predictive Maintenance system allows the invocation of Just-in-time (JIT) maintenance requests. Compared to scheduled service (let’s label that Preventative Maintenance), JIT service calls can save organizations millions of dollars through the minimization of truck rolls, machine down-time, and unneeded repairs and spare parts.
So how can a manufacturer incorporate Predictive Maintenance into their own machines?
The first step is in understanding how your equipment fails – exemplary points of failure include electronics and moving mechanical parts. Signs of failure might include the following: electric motors vibrating out of spec, equipment and electronics overheating where they should not, and the presence of abnormal levels of sonic or ultrasonic noises (which human’s can’t hear) coming from your machine.
Sensors that can measure equipment are quite common and we’ve designed them into many PdM solutions for our clients.
Non-destructive testing technologies such as visual (ie. camera), infrared, acoustic (audible range and ultrasonic) and vibration analysis in combination with measurement of device use, can trigger alerts with incredible insights.
Equipment with rotating capabilities is most apt to utilize vibration analysis. With data recorded with a suite of high-speed sensitive 3-axis accelerometers, equipment inspection can determine the maintenance requirements of gear boxes, electric motors and mechanical parts.
As silly as it sounds, some equipment may need visual inspections. Breaks, cracks and corrosion can be monitored with cameras. A remote visual inspection, accompanied with reasonable lighting can be made accessible either in a stationary situation or with a moving camera sensor inside or outside the equipment. No pots of gold guaranteed, but you can look.
Friction and stress will have ultrasonic signatures can be matched against databases. With proper analysis and proper understanding of normal wear, mechanicals that are under lubricated, imbalanced and damaged can be identified as readily as an Irish whistle.
Infrared monitoring can be an inexpensive sensor suite to deploy. With individual sensors costing very little, a network of point measurement and wide angle measurement devices can be deployed throughout a machine, bringing a machine’s infrared profile into view. This can incorporate moving parts, heated and cooled parts, electrical systems and electronics themselves.
One or more sensors can be assembled into an enclosure connected to the cloud either via local WiFi, or, (now low cost!) CAT M1 LTE cellular networks. Depending on the characteristics of your device and the number of sensors and complexity of the data gathered, data analysis can either be done on the device, edge gateway, or the data can be sent to the cloud for more advanced analysis. The difference being – the device itself can send an alarm for impending equipment failure, or that can be managed at the service / facility team level.
Capturing data and only responding when an equipment failure is imminent not only makes you look good, it saves on warranty costs, can shrink your fleet and service staff, and gives you unparalleled information of the performance of your equipment in the real world – all of which brings value to your customers!
Bottom-line: Don’t let the luck of the Irishman determine your long-term success… quench those pesky Leprechauns with PdM before they show their ugly heads… and your thirst with a well-deserved pint!