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Condition monitoring – take it with you

Nov. 11, 2020
Sheila Kennedy says portability in asset monitoring and analytics improves reliability, productivity, and profitability.

Factory and field workers have new and innovative options to improve asset oversight and service. Smart condition monitoring software and purpose-built apps allow users to identify, analyze, and address equipment irregularities from any location. Hand-operated, application-specific condition monitoring devices improve the safety and efficiency of problem detection and resolution.

About the Author: Sheila Kennedy

Mobile monitoring software and apps

Modern edge intelligence software gives workers access to machine learning models and real-time analytics from a handheld device. Lightning Mobile from FogHorn Systems is a hardware- and cloud-agnostic software platform for Android devices used by partners such as Honeywell in industrial edge AI applications.

“Lightning Mobile solutions ingest and combine data streams from various IoT sensors monitoring temperature, vibration, humidity, pressure, and video/audio, to accurately track and predict actionable insights without having to rely on cloud connectivity,” says Sastry Malladi, chief technology officer at FogHorn. “This not only prevents costly machine downtime and product quality issues but also improves employee safety conditions.”

The Integrated Machine Analytics (IMA) mobile app from Mitsubishi Electric Automation allows users to remotely monitor and analyze the status of their MTConnect-compliant CNC machines. It enables real-time machine control monitoring from an iOS or Android device and alerts users to alarms, changes, and overrides.

The IMA mobile app frees employees to do other tasks by allowing them to easily check machine statuses on their phone, increasing employee productivity, explains Rob Brodecki, service product manager at Mitsubishi Electric Automation. “CNC shops are also able to expand the hours of production without adding labor, since they can monitor the status of lights-out manufacturing without having to be in the shop,” he adds.

The new IQANgo app from Parker Hannifin facilitates service and maintenance on its IQAN series of controllers and displays. Technicians can connect wirelessly to the IQAN modules in their machines from an iOS or Android device for real-time status and troubleshooting information, and to perform operations such as fault finding and calibration.

Portable condition monitoring devices

Ultrasonic imaging cameras can detect costly compressed air leaks and dangerous electrical equipment defects such as arcing, tracking, corona, and partial discharge. The one-handed FLIR Si124 camera, with 124 miniature microphones, can detect issues up to 100 meters away and display the information in a blended visual and sound image that pinpoints the source.

“Acoustic imaging, or the ability to see ultrasonic sound, has emerged as an effective method for manufacturing and utility organizations to conduct more frequent predictive maintenance routines,” says Paul Czerepuszko, director of global business development FLIR Systems. “This technology provides a crucial first warning of impending electrical/mechanical failure and reduced performance in operations that could lead to energy loss or even worse, downtime of critical systems.”

Leaks in air conditioning, refrigeration, or industrial fluid systems can be identified and repaired using a Spectroline Complete Fluorescent Leak Detection Kit from Spectronics Corporation. Packaged in a carrying case, kits designed for oil-based systems (SPI-VLOGYG) or water and water/glycol-based systems (SPI-VLWGG) aid in accurately finding leaks even if they are intermittent.

“Leaks can easily drip and travel from place to place, making it difficult to identify the exact source. When using fluorescent leak detection, there is no guesswork,” explains Antwan Jobity, a North America account manager at Spectronics Corporation. Once the dye is added to the system reservoir, a technician can safely search near moving components with a Spectroline leak detection lamp provided in the kit. If there is a leak, the dye escaping with the host fluid will fluoresce brilliantly, enabling a “quick find and fix” solution, adds Jobity.

Drones can provide a safer and easier alternative for inspecting the inner and outer surfaces of structures such as pipes, tanks, flare stacks, and wind turbine blades. The Voliro T flying inspection robot from start-up Voliro Airborne Robotics is being developed to provide industrial-grade visual, thermal, and other non-destructive testing (NDT) capabilities, such as ultrasonic thickness measurement and pulsed eddy current testing.

Voliro’s flying inspection robot is an “omnidirectional platform with the unique capability to approach, touch, and interact with the environment,” says Timo Müller, product lead and co-founder at Voliro. He adds that forces up to 2 kg can be applied in any direction, ensuring stable and reliable contact between the NDT sensor and the inspected surface and a stable flight pattern close to structures. Instead of GPS, it uses cameras, lasers, and other sensors to navigate indoors and outdoors.

Technology Toolbox

This article is part of our monthly Technology Toolbox column. Read more from Sheila Kennedy.

About the Author

Sheila Kennedy | CMRP

Sheila Kennedy, CMRP, is a professional freelance writer specializing in industrial and technical topics. She established Additive Communications in 2003 to serve software, technology, and service providers in industries such as manufacturing and utilities, and became a contributing editor and Technology Toolbox columnist for Plant Services in 2004. Prior to Additive Communications, she had 11 years of experience implementing industrial information systems. Kennedy earned her B.S. at Purdue University and her MBA at the University of Phoenix. She can be reached at [email protected] or www.linkedin.com/in/kennedysheila.

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