Author: Thomas Schardt, Nidec Senior Director of IoT (Internet of Things)
Collecting data is not new. Data acquisition of electric motors and other critical equipment operating in industrial applications has been done for 20+ years. However, there are millions of industrial motors installed in the US which are not currently being monitored, even though deterioration is “a given”. Everyone knows that when a new motor is put into service, it immediately starts to deteriorate, much like your car. The minute you drive a brand new car off the lot, it starts to deteriorate, which is why scheduled maintenance is required to keep the vehicle running over time.
Scheduled maintenance, or Preventive Maintenance, is one approach that has become quite common as the industry moves away from “reactive” mindsets. This is not to say that “reactive” maintenance will disappear altogether – many companies will choose to operate a motor to failure and simply replace it when required because this approach does not result in any significant expenses (i.e. in applications where the cost of downtime is not so critical). However, when it comes to critical equipment, owners want to ensure their asset is properly maintained. For this reason, many have implemented maintenance programs to prevent unwanted motor failure and costly, unplanned down-time.
Often, preventive maintenance is carried out through route-based monitoring. In route-based monitoring, highly-trained professionals (both in-house and third-party service providers) physically travel to each motor or set of motors to collect performance data (vibration, temperature, speed, etc.). The data is taken back to the office, uploaded into a database , and compared to data taken 3-months, 6-months, and 9-months back, so that an operating trend can be created and reviewed. Trending that motor operating data enables these highly-trained professionals to identify potential problems and provides time to schedule maintenance or complete replacement. So you can imagine how intrigued a third-party maintenance company might be at the new opportunities presented by IoT. If more motors are equipped with IoT technology, then route-based monitoring can be converted to predictive maintenance through remote continuous condition monitoring, the foundation to improve machine reliability. Instead of trending performance data for 50 motors, monitoring and preventive maintenance can be expanded to 100s IoT-enabled motors or more, depending on the capacity of the service provider and how they choose to apply this scalable technology.
It’s all about predicting equipment failure before it happens as unexpected equipment failure leads to costly downtime and further equipment damages. Applying IoT enabled technologies help maximize the life of equipment without increasing the risk of failure. It not only allows to identify the best time for a maintenance but also the ideal scope of work to be performed.
We recognize an increasing demand for continuous condition monitoring specifically from small and medium enterprises. The cost for sensors, processing power, communication protocols, and data storage have been dramatically reduced over the last 2 to 3 years, creating greater motivation to utilize IoT for monitoring and control systems in industrial applications. As industry chooses to prioritize real-time monitoring of motor health, we will see an increase in both the number of motors that come equipped with IoT capabilities as well as an increase in industry’s operating efficiency and productivity.
WATCH a short video of Thomas Schardt at EASA 2017 talking about the FORECYTE, a stand-alone remote monitoring platform that uses battery powered wireless sensors to measure equipment vibration and temperature, enabling users to predict when equipment failure might be imminent and to better operate and maintain equipment.
About the Author
Thomas Schardt joined Nidec Motor Corporation in October 2016. In his role as the Sr. Director of IoT, Mr. Schardt is leading the strategy and infrastructure development to grow Nidec Motor’s equipment monitoring platform. Responsibilities include P&L management for the IoT business segment as well as Product Management responsibilities, and the coordination of IoT efforts and activities across all of Nidec’s ACIM business units. He can be contacted at Thomas.Schardt@nidec-motor.com.