Condition monitoring: Up-close and personal asset health

May 6, 2020
Sheila Kennedy says portable machine health assessment tools bring condition monitoring and analysis to the equipment.

Condition monitoring is the cornerstone of effective predictive maintenance. Today’s portable monitoring devices don’t just collect condition data – many also provide technicians and operators with equipment and repair histories, analytics and fault diagnostics, recommended corrective actions, and access to remote expertise.

Technology Toolbox

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

Purpose-built solutions

Motor condition monitoring is aided by portable motor testers. Studies in electric motor failure indicate that as much as 50% of motor failures are caused by electrical anomalies such as power circuit, power quality, ground and stator insulation, and rotor cage faults, says Noah Bethel, VP product development at PdMA Corporation.

The MCEMAX electric motor tester from PdMA identifies conditions conducive to these failures before a failure occurs. “It will also guide the team involved in troubleshooting to an efficient and swift recovery when trouble has already happened,” Bethel explains. Additionally, users with little experience in testing or troubleshooting or needing specific expertise can call or send data to PdMA’s MCEMAX support team.

For monitoring and diagnosis of rotating machines, the portable VibWorks Collector Analyzer from BETAVIB supports vibration data acquisition and analysis from a 10-inch, full-HD touchscreen. Add-on capabilities include dynamic balancing, phase analysis, order extraction, orbits, and modal analysis.

VibWorks is unique because its hardware and software are combined into an all-in-one solution. “The Panasonic Toughpad operates on Windows 10 and is both the vibration analyzer and the computer. This allows the user to quickly analyze the collected data while at the machine without the need to transfer the data to a computer in the office,” says Mickey Harp, condition monitoring product manager at LUDECA, a BETAVIB distribution partner.

TRIO vibration data collectors and field analyzers are a component of Total TRIO, a complete vibration data collection solution from Symphony AzimaAI (formerly Azima DLI). Technicians and operators use the devices to collect condition data and receive automated vibration diagnostics. TRIO X-series collectors include embedded ExpertALERT automated diagnostic software, which uses rules and fault pattern recognition for analysis and delivers the diagnosis, fault severity, repair priority, and plain-language recommendation for repair.

Lubricant and grease condition and contamination is assessed in the field with the FluidScan 1000 Series handheld infrared analyzer from AMETEK Spectro Scientific. With one or two droplets of oil and one minute for testing, it reports quantitative results based on the application. Biodiesel  measurements have recently joined the list of supported applications.

“What sets the FluidScan apart from other portable spectrometers is the available library of over 800 fluids,” says Randi Price, product manager at AMETEK Spectro Scientific. “With pre-built calibrations for key chemistry and contamination parameters right out of the box, it is a quick and easy tool to begin or add to a condition monitoring program.”

New evolutions

A portable option is now available for the Intellinova Parallel EN condition monitoring solution from SPM Instrument. Intellinova Parallel EN tracks and manages changes in process and operating conditions such as vibration levels, gear and bearing condition, and lubrication effectiveness.

Originally an online-only solution for continuous condition monitoring, the portable version, packaged in a carrying case with connectors, cables, and a power supply, supports temporary monitoring of critical machines, proof-of-concept installations, demonstrations, testing, and is also useful for reliability service providers.

“Portability allows for resolving short-term problems or proving value prior to committing to a full online system installation,” says Ron Kittle, managing director at SPM Instrument. “It is important to have a powerful enough system to keep up with the difficulties of variable operating conditions, high or low speed changes, and short duty cycles.”

The SKF Pulse handheld sensor, a smart vibration tool, is now available for Android as well as iOS devices. Designed to be carried from machine to machine, the smart vibration tool transmits vibration and temperature measurement data wirelessly via the free SKF Pulse mobile app, enabling instant machine diagnostics or storage for future analysis. No specialized training is needed.

Technicians using Pulse can tap into decades of SKF expertise, says Shawn Gibson, director of digitalization at SKF Americas. “With a simple click, customers can request an SKF Pulse Check for analysis of their machine data at one of SKF’s Rotating Equipment Performance Centers. They’ll receive an in-app report that they can use to make informed, timely, and proactive decisions that improve the performance of their rotating equipment,” Gibson explains.

About the Author: 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

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