Condition Monitoring At The Source Diagnose Asset Problems Faster With Portible Tech

Condition monitoring at the source: Diagnose asset problems faster with portable tech

Sept. 19, 2023
Sheila Kennedy says intuitive tools bring mobility and portability to equipment issue detection.

Condition monitoring technologies designed for use at or near critical assets keep improving. Robust portable tools and on-site devices reveal early warning signs of problems so corrective actions can be taken. Acoustic imagers, drone systems, mobile apps, analyzers, tablets, and oil monitoring tools are among the beneficial innovations.

Conveyor-specific solutions

Pinpointing compressed air, gas, and vacuum leaks as well as partial discharge in conveyor systems is facilitated by the handheld ii910 Precision Acoustic Imager with new MecQ Mode from Fluke. It sees inaudible sounds that indicate deterioration in mechanical components, and visually displays the potential issues while also storing visual and data records. Operators can safely scan large areas of interest or across the full conveyor system.

With MecQ, short for mechanical quantification, users can “visualize a bearing that is going bad 15 to 16 weeks before it becomes audible,” observes Justin Sheard, principal engineer for new applications and solutions at Fluke Corp. “It allows teams to identify potential issues early so they can be addressed on the regular maintenance schedule.”

The rugged, drone-based CONTI ConveyorInspect system from Continental advances conveyor belt system monitoring and inspection. Infrared and RGB camera-equipped drones can either be guided by a drone pilot or autonomously scan the conveyor following a preprogrammed route. AI data analysis helps to locate failing idlers and track changes in rotating components.

“With the fusion of cloud-based AI and advanced RGB and thermal-enabled drones, we're redefining conveyor system monitoring and upkeep. The solution harnesses AI to identify threshold temperature, forecast maintenance requirements, and elevate performance, all while amplifying safety and efficiency,” observes Gaurang Mehta, ConveyorInspect product owner at Continental.

Strategic innovations

Electric power distribution reliability and safety is vital. The RXplore (relay explorer) mobile application from ABB provides the ability to read and share relay fault and event information, monitor circuit breaker condition, and perform maintenance activity from a mobile device. The newest version targets the global IEC market for some of ABB’s Relion protection and control relays and its SWICOM device.

“RXplore is an intuitive mobile app to help operators and technicians perform simple operations on relays from a safe distance. Additionally, RXplore seamlessly connects with ABB’s monitoring and diagnostic unit, SWICOM, for condition monitoring of the whole switchgear,” says Gaurav Srivastav, global product manager for software tools at ABB.

The handheld Microlog Analyzer dBX, a new addition to SKF’s condition monitoring solution portfolio, adds speed and diagnostic power to the monitoring and maintenance of rotating machines. It collects measurement data with MPA-in-a-flash, SKF’s fastest vibration analysis method featuring Multi-Point Acquisition.

Sam Bainbridge, SKF’s director of technology delivery for North America, says the device supports a range of tasks, including impact tests, digital recording, modal analysis, multi-plane balancing, and cross channel phase. “Microlog Analyzer dBX is backwards compatible with SKF’s Microlog CMXA Series platform and adds new technology including a high-resolution, 10.1-inch touch screen that can display up to six measurement windows at the same time, and an embedded camera,” he adds.

The new ET6x series of rugged Android tablets from Zebra Technologies improves maintenance and meter reading efficiency. Its heated touch screen and vehicle dock for material handling vehicles improve comfort and productivity. The tablets can capture high-resolution photos for proof of condition and quality control, and capture bar codes in hand and up to 40 ft. away.

ET65 enables service technicians “to effortlessly capture meter readings on-the-go using its high-resolution rear camera combined with Zebra’s OCR Wedge machine learning technology,” notes Patrick Seidensticker, senior director of product management for tablets at Zebra Technologies. “The data is captured, instantly formatted and sent to the tech’s work order, improving workforce efficiency and accuracy.”

The Oil Site Glass & Level Monitor from Esco Products reveals at a glance whether a machine’s oil is at the correct level and has any increased contamination, identified by changes to the oil’s color, clarity, or any accumulation of water. The monitor is installed on the drain port of oil-lubricated equipment. A dual-port version enables installation of a sample port.

“Advanced operators can utilize the sample port to install a static sampling point. By drawing a sample from the same spot every time, users get an accurate, repeatable sample of oil, which can be used to reliably identify trends in the quality and condition of the equipment’s lubricants,” explains Christopher Haught, visual oil analysis product manager at Esco Products.

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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