In today’s manufacturing world, implementing a PDM program can be tough. The ability to shut down machines to run cables or gaining access to production machines/Assets can be troublesome and cost manufacturing dollars and cents. Many motors, pumps, blowers, spindles and other rotating equipment including robots are sectioned off by cages, lock outs and machine doors. These are not new obstacles for the experienced data collector/technician. Asking for a machine, pump or motor to be shut down for analysis is a cost for both the company and the service provider.
Before mobile technology we all were at the mercy of waiting for important data. It was not that long ago that a professional collecting data on critical assets had to spend days preparing a report of a production facilities assets before he/she could send the report. Then these reports would be distributed to personnel to take action and planning days later.
Even today, many specialized analysis tools are designed to only collect data to be later loaded to a modern computer for mass distribution of the important data.
Now we are able to enter into a new era that is starting to become a revolution.
Mobile computers using wireless sensors!
We have all seen this revolution in every aspect of our modern lives. It is hard not to enter a taxi cab, restaurant or store where a mobile device is not swiping your credit card or selecting your dinner order. We see them at trade shows promoting products we want to buy as well as pilots conducting their flight plans. Now we are seeing them on factory floors collecting data as well.
There is a reason for all of this popularity. The devices are very easy to use and most of us use it every day on our own phones and tablets. We use them every day.
Now add external wireless sensors:
Now add industrial Wireless sensors:
By adding industrial sensors to a mobile device we can solve many challenges.
#1 A mobile device can run multiple sensors for multiple tasks. Instead of having several expensive analyzer”s for vibration analysis, balancing, laser shaft alignment, thermography, and precision measurement you can use just one mobile device. Imagine carrying one device for all of these tasks instead of 5 different analyzers.
#2 Other analyzers are just that. They have no capability for other tasks. A mobile device is already a source of email, phone and video communication, access to the internet, as well as reference and data saving. Not to mention hundreds of other applications.
#3 Reports can be sent directly from the device to a cloud server or via email for immediate response. Current dedicated analyzers cannot.
#4 Wireless sensor means great safety and control. Where traditional analyzers must wait for a machine to be locked out or cables to be run a wireless data collector can run with no delay or harm to the technician.
Vibration analysis is one of the leading measurements taken in the predictive maintenance community for equipment reliability. It has proven itself over and over again to be a device to detect ,unbalance, misalignment, bent shafts, eccentric rotors sheaves etc., resonance, mechanical looseness, oil Whirl, bearing failures, gear mesh, motor problems and more. Most modern analyzers also have balancing capability to correct vibration on the spot. More importantly data collectors are designed to trend data overtime to know when failures will occur.
A typical data collector would have to manage his device and cables for proper data collection. In the past no matter how the professional was collecting the data he would have to wait until he was done with his route and come back to a computer and upload the data to send it or do further analysis. With this scenario many times an emergency is forgotten or takes precedence over other urgencies. Unless the professional actually leaves his post and stops what he’s doing to alert a subordinate or decision maker, this rarely ever gets action.
GTI Wireless Accelerometer:
With the ability of using wireless vibration collection both route based and permanent mounted all safety and time issues can be solved. I technician can mount a accelerometer without interrupting or shutting down a machine or asset.
Precision laser alignment and leveling:
Yet, another tool found in a maintenance professionals tool box is a device to level and precision align equipment. Now thanks to wireless devices this can be done on a iPad tablet by GTI.
Motor condition analysis:
Circuit analysis and power readings of the motor windings and motor rotor can also tell us important information about the running condition and general health of the motor. Again we can measure with an iPad tablet by GTI.
Another vital instrument used to solve equipment vibration and premature failure. This can be performed on machines made for balancing or has been a very popular practice to be conducted in the field using very expensive equipment. iPad apps and wireless sensors are available to complete this task easily.
Infrared thermography is used to measure temperature to determine machines operating condition and detect thermal anomalies and areas that are hotter or colder than they should be. Infrared practices can be used to detect problems in electrical switch gear, gearboxes, electrical substations, transmissions, circuit breaker panels, motors, Bearings, steam lines, and other important Industrial components. This technology also aids in letting us know when important assets are going to fail.
One of the most recognized advantages of using a mobile device for data collection of any type is that these devices are never far from internet connection. This enables the ability to send/stream and later export there data via email or straight to the cloud. This makes for real time data to be viewed by remote experts. It also allows companies with multiple facilities to view data from remote locations. Of course it does not remove the ability to work as a tied down hard drive for secure locations not wanting cloud access.
Now imagine the ability to attach more complex and precision sensors to the fray. This opens many more possibilities then ever before. Why you may ask. What is the difference between using a dedicated electronic measuring device VS using a Tablet computer or Smartphone for analysis?
#1 All of the features that can not be found on a dedicated measuring device. Ie Emails, photos, notes, phone calls, texts, video conferencing, Internet searches for information, storage and viewing of important asset manuals and blueprints, maps, and much more.
#2 Ease of use of a common operating system.
#3 Multiple sensors and applications on one platform/device.
#4 Portability and durability with the available cases.
#5 Wireless connection to servers, cloud, and Internet with the ability to send out data wirelessly.
#6 continually updated software for free.
This list of advantages clearly mark these devices to be the platform of the future. Not only for the sound reasons mentioned but also due to the fact all of our youth are using and learning on them in our educational systems.
GTI Predictive Technology is one of the companies breaking into the ability to add external tools and wireless sensors to these devices. We have made a commitment to continue. We already have Vibration analysis, Precision Balancing, Laser shaft alignment, Geometric measurement, Ultrasound, Audio analysis, and thermography all using the iPad platform wireless.
About the Author:
Thomas Hoenig has been in the machine tool industry for the past 27 years. He has seen predictive maintenance techniques, technologies and methods evolve through the years and now has a great vantage point to share how the iPad can play an important role in this industry.