- August 18, 2017
- Mitsubishi Electric Automation
August 18, 2017 - Using a Mitsubishi Smart Condition Monitoring (SCM) system, operators can now gain access to the status of rotating equipment. The system can raise the alarm to predict failures in advance and provide information on recommended actions to take.
Example: If a mixer or a refrigeration unit fails in a food or beverage processing plant the drop in productivity alone can cost thousands of Euros per hour, which is often compounded by the further cost of wastage and unplanned maintenance. Such units should be considered ‘primary assets’ – assets which if unavailable, can bring whole sections of a plant to a total standstill. Preserving the efficiency of these primary assets is therefore paramount to meeting KPIs and ultimately achieving profitability.
Traditional methods of condition monitoring have involved highly trained personnel running sophisticated algorithms on vibration pattern recordings to identify if a machine is due for maintenance or a defect is present. IR cameras can also be used to reveal hot-spots where excess vibration or friction creates an abnormal heat signature. Other, less sophisticated methods have involved listening devices or even holding a screwdriver to the machine to sense the vibration. Smart Condition Monitoring relies primarily on developments in sensor functionality, networking and the use of smart controllers to provide continuous monitoring.
With advances in technology, a range of factors can be automatically monitored and cross referenced by an SCM, including vibration characteristics, operating temperatures, drawn current and shifts in operating parameters. The system utilises multiple smart sensors, physically attached to the asset (using glued, screwed or magnetic fixings), which feedback information via Ethernet to an advanced sensor controller which incorporates a Mitsubishi Electric PLC at its heart. The solution can be used as a self-contained, stand-alone device (idea for feasibility studies or trials) or as a fully integrated system, allowing information to be transmitted across the factory for access via HMIs on the shop floor, to PCs connected to higher level data systems, or to mobile devices over local Wi-Fi, the internet or mobile networks. The crucial data analysis is performed on board the PLC, so the system can be relied upon to transmit overviews or warnings to operators in real-time prior to any significant asset failure.
A graphical interface, as with many of the latest automation technologies, is vital for operators to diagnose potential issues without expert knowledge. Utilizing the installation of HMIs configured to display basic parameters, the system can automatically create conditions and alarms with an associated text description. Diagnostics can be configured to display all data regarding an asset, or a general overview that can be simplified into a traffic light alert system displaying overall condition for ease of assessment. Thanks to an associated App, operators can also use a mobile device to monitor the status of equipment while on the go. Once in operation, a Smart Condition Monitoring system can detect a range of potential issues. These include bearing defects from races or balls and rollers, motor imbalance, misalignment, instability, resonant frequencies, breakages, blockages and low levels of lubricant, temperature fluctuations and phase failure in power components. From these faults, the system can offer suggestions for future operation, more precise error identification and trend analysis.
By utilising a smart approach with regards to condition monitoring, proactive maintenance can become part of the plant system architecture, providing continuous access to the diagnostic information that operators require to safeguard assets. Maintenance policies can be safely amended to increase productivity, for example, relaxing set lubrication schedules and using the monitoring system to signal on-demand maintenance for whichever asset requires attention instead. Through unparalleled access to diagnostic information, resources can be effectively channelled to improve efficiency. With total access available via a combination of smart devices, networking and the use of “smart manufacturing” principles - responses to alarm conditions can be faster, with both production and maintenance teams referring to accurate, predictive ‘live’ information.
For the food and beverage industry where profits or stock can be severely affected by unplanned downtime, an SCM system is designed to allow not only full condition monitoring to avoid failure but also the automation IT framework to synergise the use of maintenance resources.