Archive | Equipment Services


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! 


2:42 pm
September 13, 2016
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Life-Cycle Costing: Why So Difficult?

0916klausBy Dr. Klaus M. Blache, Univ. of Tennessee, Reliability & Maintainability Center

Life-cycle cost (LCC) represents the total cost of ownership over the complete life of an asset. Calculating LCC, a relatively simple exercise, can lead to better asset-management decisions. This approach has been referred to as cradle-to-grave or inception-to-disposal costing.

Using the stages in the accompanying chart as a guide, vendors/suppliers should be following detailed specifications from purchasing departments to ensure R&M (reliability and maintenance) requirements are met. This graphic is based on the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) 1993 & 1999 (document M-110 and 110.2), Reliability and Maintainability Guideline for Manufacturing Machinery and Equipment. (It’s noteworthy that both trades and engineers helped develop this guideline.)

Today there are many computerized LCC models. The concept is simple. Wouldn’t you be willing to pay 10% to 15% more in the initial purchase of machinery and equipment (M&E) if you could save substantially more over the life of those assets?

Overall, operational and maintenance (O&M) costs make up 50% to 80% of total life-cycle costs. By the time the M&E is constructed, however, 95% or more of that cost has already been determined. So, it’s either pay a little more up front or pay much more throughout an asset’s life. The good news is that incorporating “design for maintainability” principles in M&E purchasing decisions can generate substantial O&M cost savings. That means specifications should reflect design-in considerations such as accessibility, modularity, and easy assembly and disassembly. For example, ask:

  • Has the need for accessibility with special tools been considered?
  • To reach a frequently failing component, would items that haven’t failed need to be removed?
  • Would some long-life parts be disposed of with disposable parts?

The objective of LCC is to select the most cost-effective approach, so that the lowest long-term cost of ownership is achieved. Unfortunately, ongoing pressure to save money drives short-term thinking. This was a challenge 30 years ago, and still is today.


At a recent Univ. of Tennessee Reliability and Maintainability Center (RMC) meeting in Knoxville, attendees from 50 member companies were polled on LCC matters. Questions and responses included:

Do you have an equation/formula that you use to calculate ROI [return on investment] when making Life-Cycle Asset Management decisions?

  • 76% responded “No.”

How well does your life-cycle process work?

  • Not at all or don’t have one (56%)
  • Not too well (29%)
  • Adequate (10%
  • Very good (5%)
  • Excellent (0%)

How much are design and purchasing (specifications) for R&M needed in buying new equipment?

  • Should always be used (66%)
  • Should be used most of the time (30%)
  • Somewhat needed (4%)
  • Don’t need them (0%)

How much are design and purchasing (specifications) for R&M used in buying new equipment?

  • Somewhat use them (64%)
  • Don’t use them (18%)
  • Regularly use them (9%)
  • Always use them (9%)

These responses indicate a continuing purchasing/manufacturing disconnect. As long as purchasing departments focus mainly on reducing initial costs, this won’t change. Purchasing typically reports to the top of the organization alongside manufacturing, so the battle continues.

What’s needed is a machinery & equipment reliability metric tied to a purchasing department’s performance, not just its cost-saving abilities. After all, LCC decision making is a rich opportunity for organizations. That is if they have the discipline to implement long-term success strategies. MT

Based in Knoxville, Klaus M. Blache is director of the Reliability & Maintainability Center at the Univ. of Tennessee, and a research professor in the College of Engineering. Contact him at


9:00 am
August 4, 2016
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IIoT Analytics Platform

1608mtprod04pUniformance Suite is a fully integrated system of process software solutions said to turn plant data into actionable information enabling smart operations. The suite uses data analytics to allow users to capture data, visualize trends, collaborate with other users, predict and prevent equipment failures, and act to make informed business decisions. The software collects and stores all types of data for retrieval and analysis, predicts and detects events based on underlying patterns and correlations, links process metrics with business KPIs for decision making, and enables IIoT, mobility, cloud, big data, and predictive and enterprise analytics. Uniformance Insight allows users to visualize process conditions and investigate events from any web browser.
Honeywell Process Solutions


7:58 pm
January 12, 2016
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Maintenance in the Palm of Your Hand

An operator receives real-time troubleshooting information and is virtually able to repair the issue on the spot. Photos by Wunderlich-Malec

An operator receives real-time troubleshooting information and is virtually able to repair the issue on the spot. Photos by Wunderlich-Malec

VIP Services is a mobile app and maintenance tool designed to improve efficiency and increase productivity.

By Michelle Segrest, Contributing Editor

Four years ago, a longtime customer of Wunderlich-Malec (Minnetonka, MN) approached the engineering service provider about the possibility of a paperless solution for its maintenance operations.

“Our customer was faced with their labor force retiring and a high rate of attrition occurring at multiple sites,” said business unit manager Joel Gil. “The client wanted to have a means of digitizing their systems so that new employees could have information instantly and be able to support their maintenance needs.”

This customer’s concern is common across countless industrial markets. Because of global pressures, many industrial sectors were forced to downsize their engineering and maintenance workforce 15 years ago. Now this senior workforce is retiring. The tribal knowledge is escaping without a means of documenting or passing down.

Stop brain loss

VIP (Virtual Information Portal) Services is the gap-stop measure for what Gil calls “brain loss” in the industrial marketplace. The traditional way to look up information was using printed documentation or drawings. Today, advancements in electronic technology provide more accurate and relevant information.

The product is a configurable, user-friendly mobile app designed to deliver relevant data, documentation, and up-to-date information, all in the palm of one’s hand.

The automated-scanning process provides wireless connectivity to relevant, critical documentation to communicate information from the plant floor. VIP’s POI (point of interest) feature delivers relevant information to the location where it is critically needed to perform a task.

VIP Services addresses two major needs of most manufacturing and industrial facilities:

  • Reduce unscheduled downtime—Time is lost when technicians leave the work area to find resources, such as schematics, procedures, or other data needed to complete a task. VIP Services links all of the equipment to all of its relevant data and information resources. It provides specific and accurate information for the technician at the site of the equipment, which is where needed information is the most critical.
  • Improve decision-making communication—Communication about production downtime issues and their resolution using traditional channels (email or phone) is often unclear or delayed until the appropriate person can physically be onsite and ‘see’ the issue for themselves. VIP Services shows the problem, complete with all relevant process data and resources, to the subject-matter expert who can support the local technician with better communications for quick problem resolution.
Considerable information can be stored, transmitted, and analyzed without leaving the job site.

Considerable information can be stored, transmitted, and analyzed without leaving the job site.

How it works

VIP POI can turn any manufacturing floor into a data-rich environment. Each POI is read by a preconfigured tablet that displays relevant product or application information. Some of the features of the VIP Services product include:

  • VIP on Demand—This technology displays POIs as pdfs, drawings, manuals, URL links to web pages, and videos.
  • VIP Real Time—This feature displays live process data relating to the POI from the PLC or SCADA systems on the plant floor. The data points can be displayed numerically, as well as presented in trend, pie chart, or bar graphs. Operators experience greater efficiency because they have immediate access to information.
  • VIP Zip—This feature captures real-time snapshots or videos of a problem and transmits them by email. The pictures can be annotated to highlight relevant issues. Productivity is increased because decisions are based on more accurate and relevant information. Remote experts can review the video or annotated photos for troubleshooting support.

Maintenance streamlined

With VIP Zip, maintenance professionals can document a current downtime issue and immediately store the information for future use.

With VIP Zip, maintenance professionals can document a current downtime issue and immediately store the information for future use.

Gil cited a few examples of how VIP Services has helped companies improve productivity through this streamlined maintenance tool. “Most important, VIP Services saves time,” Gil said. “Having relevant information instantly in the palm of your hand gives the maintenance team the ability to get a system back on line without having to leave the site to collect the needed drawings for the problem.”

VIP Services can also contribute to cost savings. According to Gil, “With the help of VIP Zip, the maintenance team is able to document a current downtime issue. They are able to create a video, provide audio, apply annotation, and zip the file into an MP4 file. This file can then be emailed to a remote technician who can assist in the correction with greater success. Using VIP Services results in production resuming sooner, because the decisions being made are more accurate.”

Maintenance-team benefits

Among the many maintenance benefits, this tool offers quick value, low risk, low cost of entry, fast troubleshooting and repair, simplicity, low repair cost, and improved efficiency and productivity, Gil said. “VIP Services does not mandate that you rearrange data or existing information,” he said. “It only points at data within your existing islands of information.”

Those with less-intense/complicated applications or who simply want to test the waters can use VIP Lite, a quick-start version of the complete package that allows configuration of 25 POIs. VIP Lite includes VIP Zip snap capability using your own tablet. The system uses the current investment of maintenance tools and database systems and becomes the portal to this information.

Using VIP Real Time, a user can see what they need to get the job completed faster. There is no need for the technician to leave the work site. “Bottom line, this tool offers faster troubleshooting and repair, which saves time and money,” Gil said.

The VIP Services tool is simple to use because it uses common technology. No special skills or training are required. “The tool is very intuitive and can be used after a very short five-minute walk-through tutorial,” Gil said. “VIP Services is a tool that uses powerful technology that gives you info where and when you need it.”

VIP Zip eliminates the need to send experts to the job site. This tool offers superior communication capabilities when explaining issues on the factory floor. For more information, visit MT

Michelle Segrest has been a professional journalist for 25 years. She is co-owner of Business Discovery Services Group in Birmingham, AL, and spearheads the company’s Marketing Services division. She has worked as a journalist in the industrial processing industries for eight years.


7:34 pm
May 26, 2014
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Wireless Machine Condition Sensor for Hazardous Duty

New Machine-Condition-Sensor

SKF ( has launched a new Wireless Machine Condition Sensor that leverages WirelessHART protocol to deliver dynamic vibration and temperature data for condition monitoring and diagnostics. The product has ATEX Zone 0 certification, which means it is appropriate for use in hazardous environments like those found in petrochemical and oil and gas operations, among others. The product combines both sensor and router node into one compact and battery-operated unit the size of a typical industrial accelerometer.

According to SKF, these sensors communicate with each other and with a wireless gateway, thus creating a mesh network that’s well suited for monitoring rotating machinery across large sites, in hard-to-reach locations or where traditional WiFi communications won’t work. Capabilities include relaying data from one node to another and back to the gateway, and receiving automated commands from SKF-supplied Wireless Sensor Device Manager software.

If a node is unable to receive signals directly from the WirelessHART gateway, it sends and receives them through a nearby node that can pass the data to and from the gateway. The WirelessHART gateway communicates with the Device Manager software and automatically exports collected data into SKF @ptitude Analyst, a diagnostic and analytic software tool that helps plant personnel determine a course of action.

Because SKF’s Wireless Machine Condition Sensors run in a low-power-consumption mode, the manufacturer says their batteries can last for years in the field.



3:42 pm
May 22, 2014
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Sonic Resonance Cleans Pipes and Process Equipment

AIMM 0522_homeAccording to AIMM Technologies (AIMM), its Hydrokinetics cleaning technology can clean what’s typically been considered “un-cleanable” interiors of piping, tubes, lines and process equipment in plastics, chemical, refining, offshore and other facilities. Based on the induction of “sonic resonance” into a cleaning water stream, Hydrokinetics has been shown to be capable of doing with a hydroblasting, lancing, drilling and baking acidizing can’t.

The sonic resonance travels through the water stream and safely transfers to both the tube and the fouling material. Because of the different compositions of the tube and the fouling material, they resonate at different frequencies, breaking the bond between them and allowing the fouling to be expelled easily and safely. Hydrokinetics uses less water than traditional clearing methods. For pyrophoric and chemical instability applications, it’s possible to use fluid media other than water. Because the equipment is compact, AIMM can quickly dispatch a unit and technician to sites anywhere in the world.