Archive | Condition Monitoring


8:24 pm
February 9, 2017
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Listen for Impact

Above. Josh Mattson's desktop computer screen displays dB data collected from ultrasound probes that feed software to generate an oil-analysis report. Oil analysis has become a big part of reliability best practices at USG Interiors by providing insight as to when to filter oil, change oil, identify early signs of failure, or use to assist in analyzing data from other technologies such as ultrasound or vibration monitoring.

Josh Mattson’s desktop computer screen displays dB data collected from ultrasound probes that feed software to generate an oil-analysis report. Oil analysis has become a big part of reliability best practices at USG Interiors by providing insight as to when to filter oil, change oil, identify early signs of failure, or use to assist in analyzing data from other technologies such as ultrasound or vibration monitoring.

Josh Mattson drives key reliability programs using ultrasound and root-cause analysis. Continue Reading →


4:28 pm
September 16, 2016
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Quick Return-on-Investment for IIoT Pilot Projects

This slide depicts the infrastructure needed for one of the case studies.(Source: Mitsubishi Electric)

This slide depicts the infrastructure needed for one of the case studies.(Source: Mitsubishi Electric)

As I’m putting together the upcoming Industrial Internet of Things column for October, it’s hard to deny the return-on-investment (ROI) numbers being released at industry conferences and user conferences. At a recent ARC Advisory conference in India, three new applications — from Mitsubishi and Schaeffler — demonstrated the robust ROI for three different industry examples: Continuous Process, hybrid and a discrete production line.

Here’s a quick rundown of these projects and below is a link to the presentation at ARC in India:

These applications include a sensing system, a device and entire production line being connected to a cloud-based system. The waste water case study presented details the return on investment (ROI) and overall costs for a new condition monitoring systems for gearboxes on a line of pumps at this Germany utility.

The results are staggering. Four months after installation of the CMS, the company identified a €3,300 savings for gearwheel defects that were detected. Also, the process avoided a gearbox overhaul and loss of service.

In the paper mill CMS application, the Mitsubishi HiTec Paper wanted to add 26 smartcheck vibration sensors to better monitor a cooling system for its four-story coated thermo-sensitive paper system. After installing the vibration sensor at cost of €25,500, the paper manufacturer reported a €10,500 ROI due to the avoidance of three failures, service-loss and machine damage.

>> Download the Mitsubishi Electric & Schaeffler Group Presentation 

1601Iot_logo>> For more IIoT coverage in maintenance and operations, click here! 


6:16 pm
May 3, 2016
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Predicting Maintenance at Hannover MESSE

One of the specialty areas set up at the Hannover MESSE show (April 25 to 29, Hannover, Germany) was called predictive maintenance. It was a rather mixed bag of equipment/brand-specific offerings and predictive maintenance “tools” for general use. Here’s what some of the exhibitors had to offer.–Gary L. Parr, editorial director

They weren’t in the actual predictive-maintenance area, but Azima DLI, Woburn, MA, was exhibiting their Trio C10 Series ruggedized 10-in. tablets. The tablets are vibration data collectors and diagnostic instruments. The CX10 is a diagnostic data collector/expert analyzer and the CA10 is a vibration data collector/field analyzer. They are loaded with the company’s ExpertAlert diagnostic software.

Festo, the pneumatics and automation company based in Hauppauge, NY, demonstrated a predictive software component for their systems that takes advantage of Internet of Things technology to monitor all aspects of the automation system.

Hydac Filter Systems, Bethlehem, PA, demonstrated a turnkey fluids condition monitoring unit that can be used in retrofit and new hydraulic applications. The unit uses an optical particle counter and a multi-parameter sensor that measures temperature, water content, conductivity, and dielectric constant.

Asseco Solutions AG, Karlsruhe, Germany, offered their Smart Connected Solutions software, which is a subscription-based service that helps companies map all of their service and maintenance processes. The software manages data from individual sensors to deployment planning and on-site maintenance and documentation. SCS can be linked, using standard interfaces, to a wide range of ERP solutions, in addition to supporting processes such as invoicing. (An English version of the site doesn’t appear to exist.)

Bruel & Kjaer Vibro, Darmstat, Germany, demonstrated their turnkey vibration monitoring system. The system can be used on any rotating machinery, consists of all necessary hardware and software, and is scalable from a single machine to an entire plant. They also offer installation service training.

Aventics Corp., Lexington, KY, was showing their sensors and software system for monitoring pneumatics. The Industry 4.0-ready system monitors all aspects of a pneumatic system, including shock absorbers, positioning, and speed. Software tracks and analyses data, providing reports of declining performance.


5:05 pm
April 14, 2016
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Video | Deep Dive on Condition Monitoring Services

Kory Chance, instrumentation and controls technician at the City of Ames, Iowa municipal power plant discusses some of the benefits in moving to a valve condition monitoring service from Emerson Process Management. Chance reveals the benefits of having an outside condition-monitoring service for such a small operation and be able to remove certain preventative maintenance routines.


7:09 pm
April 11, 2016
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IIoT Maturation Coming?

grant gerkeBy Grant Gerke, Contributing Editor

February’s inaugural “Industrial Internet of Things” (IIoT) column discussed how the massive move to more sensors and analytics in manufacturing isn’t just a passing fad: It’s transformative. How do companies implement a data strategy with current production systems in place?

Each company needs a starting point in the IIoT journey, but a fully realized data strategy is hard to wrap your arms around today—and was even harder in 2012. That’s when Southern Company, Atlanta, an energy producer and transmission line supplier, decided to tackle the problem. The company is a large energy player in the deep-South region, with 27,000 miles of transmission lines that run through Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi, in addition to operating several natural-gas and generation assets.

In a recent manufacturing webinar, Elizabeth Bray, principal engineer at Southern Company, discussed some newly enacted pilot projects involving the corporation’s transmission businesses and the move toward condition-based monitoring for its transformers at more than 3,700 substations.

Before the recent pilot, Southern Company began to add sensors and monitoring capabilities to make a future business case for a centralized program. Southern Company uses the eDNA data historian and PRiSM modeling from Schneider Electric for its transformers. These tools allow operations and maintenance teams to organize data into easy-to-read charts on monitoring screens and identify rates of changes or current deviations for its assets.

One example of success in the recent pilot program alerted a maintenance engineer to capacitor issues with a particular transformer. The eDNA trend tool and PRiSM modeling allowed centralized monitoring teams to identify a rate-of-change alert and allow maintenance to be performed before a peak period could cause downtime.

The eDNA trend tool and PRiSM modeling allowed Southern’s centralized monitoring teams to identify a rate-of-change alert and allow maintenance to be performed before a peak period could cause downtime.

The eDNA trend tool and PRiSM modeling allowed Southern’s centralized monitoring teams to identify a rate-of-change alert and allow maintenance to be performed before a peak period could cause downtime.

This is a great example of software and platform analytic delivering on a large sensing development. In Maintenance Technology’s “Final Thought” column, guest columnist Rene G. Gonzalez noted that this type of trend is quite pervasive in the energy industry. As an example, he cited a typical refinery as increasing its number of sensors from 20,000 five years ago, to 100,000 today.   

Some industry observers, such as Joe Barkai, former VP of Research at IDC, Framingham, MA, are pushing for standardization of instrumentation and devices to reduce costs for manufacturers. According to Barkai, “There aren’t enough standards for the industrial IoT space, and the robust use of standards is critical to accelerate innovation and scalable IoT ecosystems.”

While Barkai is right, most enterprises need solutions now to visualize trapped machine and system data for maintenance teams. With the increasing number of mergers and acquisitions added to the mix, large manufacturers are now assimilating disparate platforms and control architectures to the current plant-production systems.

John Rinaldi, president of Real Time Automation, Pewaukee, WI, spells out specific problems for manufacturers using older controllers in a recent article, titled, “Mining Manufacturing Data | Leveraging Trapped Data for Results” (, Aug. 21 2015). “Many controllers,” he wrote, “do not have the software and hardware to communicate data to asset-management and information systems using current computing methods.”

Beside the exceptional computing power of the cloud, industrial networking is another huge component of IIoT. Rinaldi pointed to the advantages of intelligent network gateways, which can “extract information residing in PLCs and communicate data to maintenance-management or asset-management systems.” This allows disparate networks or systems to communicate and even perform math functions on process data and send email alarms to maintenance technicians on changes-of-states.

Operations and maintenance now can measure machine cycles, runtime, and other data to perform predictive maintenance without disrupting control architectures and plant performance. Also, a minimal capital investment solution holds water with management. MT

Grant Gerke is a business writer and content marketer in the manufacturing, power, and renewable-energy space. He has 15 years of experience covering the industrial and field-automation industries.


4:54 pm
December 1, 2014
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Speeding Up the Manufacturing Connection


Researchers say the Internet of Things may have its strongest influence on the manufacturing sector because of its heavy reliance on well-applied data. Getting up to speed is the challenge.

By Rick Carter, Executive Editor

Manufacturing can be like professional sports in the way it churns out statistics. In both cases, the better those stats are understood and applied, the better the outcome.

In manufacturing, precise data application means assets last longer, less energy is used and product quality rises, along with company profits. But while it has long been a mission of most manufacturing operations to apply data to these ends, a challenge to getting there has been having the ability to gather data accurately enough and regularly enough (often by hand, on paper) to make it useful. The Internet of Things (IoT) makes this much less of a challenge and more of a conscious business decision/strategy to buy, install and use IoT-enabled devices that do the gathering automatically. These devices can now overwhelm manufacturers with good production and maintenance data—on equipment temperature, alignment, vibration, energy usage, and a host of others—that, properly interpreted, can help take operations to new levels of efficiency.

In the next six to eight years, expect about 50 billion devices worldwide to be connected to the Internet, says IT solutions provider Cisco Systems, Inc. Of these, about one-fourth will be used by manufacturers. Similarly elevated numbers exist in many places on the Internet regarding anticipated purchases of IoT devices, the savings they’ll provide and the production they’ll stimulate. It’s clearly the coming thing.

But there are some growing pains. While it may be automatic for your young son or daughter to believe that smartphone ownership (one step toward IoT integration) is as natural as breathing, manufacturers are not so easily swayed. Though there seems little doubt that the manufacturing world is headed in this direction, research suggests business in general is doing so slowly. In a recent (Sept. 2014) finding from LNS Research, for example, 250 executives (from manufacturing and other sectors) were asked how the IoT was impacting their business, and nearly half—43%—said they “didn’t understand or know about” the IoT. About a fourth of the group also said they were pursuing IoT investments for various reasons, and the rest were in the middle, either “investigating” IoT or aware of it, but still unable to detect its impact.

To learn more precisely the extent to which the above attitudes do or do not exist in the world of industrial maintenance and reliability, Maintenance Technology prepared its own study on the Internet of Things, and distributed it to our subscriber base by email. Based on 299 qualified responses, it reveals the following highlights:

40% currently have at least one to 10 or more IoT-enabled solutions for maintenance, and have plans to buy more.

37% have no IoT-enabled solutions for maintenance in their operation, and their plans to purchase them are uncertain.

The most common IoT-enabled maintenance solution, used by almost half (49%) of those with such devices, is for remote temperature detection.

Among both users and non-users of IoT-enabled solutions, the majority (84%) say they believe such devices will have either a “moderate” or “strong” impact on industrial maintenance in the next five years.

What is the Internet of Things?

Following are two definitions. The first is a high-level view that addresses both the manufacturing impact of the IoT and its vast social impact that will come through devices that can help us control or monitor various aspects of our lives and homes. The second is more technical, and describes the IoT in terms familiar to those in the manufacturing environment. For the best interpretation of what the IoT is, keep both in mind.

“The Internet of Things is a growing network of everyday objects—from industrial machines to consumer goods—that can share information and complete tasks while you are busy with other activities, like work, sleep or exercise.”

SAS Institute, Inc., a North Carolina-based data-management software firm

“The Internet of Things is the interconnection of uniquely identifiable embedded computing devices within the existing Internet infrastructure. IoT is expected to offer advanced connectivity of devices, systems, and services that goes beyond machine-to-machine communications (M2M) and covers a variety of protocols, domains and applications. The interconnection of these embedded devices (including smart objects) is expected to usher in automation in nearly all fields, while also enabling advanced applications like a Smart Grid.”



In this snapshot of IoT-enabled manufacturing, responses suggest a nearly even split among respondents who use IoT-enabled devices and those who don’t. By a slim majority, most (40%) of respondents are IoT-enabled, and have plans to invest in more. But more than a third (37%) do not currently have IoT-enabled devices and are uncertain about plans to invest in them. Among the remaining 23% who say they “don’t know” if they have IoT-enabled devices or not, such usage in their operations may be split along the same lines.


Are facility managers leading the charge on integrating IoT-enabled devices in manufacturing operations? The above responses suggest this possibility, but the fact that development of IoT-enabled building controls has a slight jump on that of maintenance devices may explain the strong showing for facility control solutions. For the same reason, the nearly-as-strong integration of remote monitoring solutions for temperature and vibration detection suggests especially rapid (current and, likely, ongoing) acceptance among maintenance pros for these particular devices.


As expected, IoT-enabled devices clearly simplify the job of gathering data for maintenance pros. A clear majority of survey respondents (83%) who have IoT-enabled devices say they’ve made their jobs either “significantly” or “somewhat” easier. The devices also have a perfect record in this survey for not making anyone’s day more difficult.


These responses indicate that IoT are also generally easy to master. Most (80%) who have them rate learning how to use them “somewhat easy” or “easy.” Another 20%, however, rate the learning process “somewhat difficult” or just plain “difficult.”


Training, or the lack thereof, may be the reason for the levels of difficulty reflected in the percentages shown in Chart 4. Less than half (48%) of respondents with IoT-enabled devices say they received specialized training in their use, while the remainder did not. With the wide range of available functionality and complexity in IoT-enabled devices, it’s evident that training should be included in the investment.


Future purchase plans for IoT-enabled equipment basically parallel current-ownership levels, but with more than a third (39%) who say they either have no plans to buy more IoT-enabled equipment in the next six months or don’t know what those plans are. The good news: Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed who currently own at least one IoT-enabled device will purchase another device of some type before mid-2015.


Whether a current user of IoT-enabled devices or not, most survey respondents (84%) believe that these types of devices will have a “moderate” or “strong” impact on manufacturing in the next five years. Regardless of individual company budgets, cultures or other concerns that might impact the spread of IoT-enabled devices within their own firms right now, respondents clearly see the growing use of such devices as inevitable. MT

Our Survey Respondents

An overview of those who took our survey, based on the top responses to questions about the type of operation where they work, their age and title:

  • 38% work in a process-manufacturing operation with fewer than 1000 employees
  • 55% are over age 55
  • The most common title among respondents is Maintenance Manager (28%), with Maintenance Team Leader (17%) and Plant Engineer (14%) in the next closest positions.