Share equipment health for better diagnostics

Aug. 16, 2013
Sheila Kennedy says monitoring services give maintenance the edge.

Maintenance organizations can do more with less when remote monitoring service providers enable condition-based maintenance. If early indicators of problems are met with expert eyes, equipment failures and downtime can be avoided. Sharing equipment information with specialists allows for collaboration and improves response times. Contracts that bundle monitoring technologies and diagnostic services eliminate the upfront system implementation costs and complexities.

À la carte services

Some remote monitoring providers offer consulting services on demand. Users of SKF’s Machinery Health Reporting Program (MHRP) ( collect vibration data as needed using an SKF handheld data collector. The motor, pump, fan, compressor, or gearbox data is transmitted to SKF for analysis and recommended actions.

“The cost of entry to utilize predictive maintenance technology can be prohibitive for small and midsize manufacturers. MHRP gives the same value at an affordable price,” says Andy Hoy, North American director of SKF’s Machinery Health Reporting Program. “The service contract includes on-site training, data collection hardware, analysis, monthly reports, and quarterly visits to keep the customer on track.”

Other providers specialize in certain technologies. Atlas Copco’s new SmartLink compressed air monitoring program, when integrated with the Elektronikon controller, gives Atlas Copco and its customers access to a Web-based monitoring dashboard. A Technical Support Competency Center also opened in May 2013 to centralize the company’s remote monitoring services.

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“SmartLink technology provides real-time information on compressed air performance changes and fully customizable data monitoring. It can be installed or retrofitted onto existing compressor installations and it will come standard on new oil-injected rotary screw compressors starting this year,” says Brian Blum, service optimization specialist for Atlas Copco Compressors (

Complex markets

The nuclear power industry is beginning to benefit from wireless monitoring of mechanical integrity. Azima DLI recently teamed with Luminant to pilot Azima DLI’s Watchman Analysis Program at Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant. The plant’s maintenance personnel and managers, Luminant’s Power Optimization Center operators, and Azima DLI machine health analysts have access to the analytics so that situations can be addressed collaboratively.

“This wireless vibration-based machinery monitoring and diagnostics technology combines low installation and operating costs with high functionality to effectively deliver strategic information through our secure interactive portal and Web-based applications,” says Joe Van Dyke, PE, vice president of operations and business development for Azima DLI (

Proactive maintenance

Wireless measurements, predictive technologies, and specialist knowledge allow companies to be proactive with their maintenance. Essential Asset Monitoring solutions from Emerson Process Management use embedded process and equipment knowledge to automate the monitoring of process facility equipment.

“Remote monitoring services provide expert eyes and ears on the plant 24/7 so that plant personnel can focus on what they do best and only be notified when their attention is required,” says Nikki Bishop, PE, senior applications consultant for Emerson Process Management ( “Remote Emerson experts can help to determine the root cause of the issue and provide parts and services for resolution.”

Siemens offers a remote condition monitoring system as part of its Electronic Production Services (ePS) suite. It is accessible from the Siemens-wide standardized remote service platform. Using ePS remote viewing, Siemens personnel can instantly access error logs, versions, and machine data, which minimizes the time spent diagnosing problems.

Sheila Kennedy 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].
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“Siemens condition monitoring and reliability provides the user with the expertise and diagnostic capability to predict failures. This keeps productivity at its highest levels,” says Val Biester, condition monitoring and reliability program director at Siemens Industry (

The Virtual Support Engineer service from Rockwell Automation allows remote performance monitoring of automation assets. Only IT-approved outbound communications are used, preventing exposure to threats from inbound data transfer.

“Virtual Support Engineer allows manufacturers and OEMs to remotely access real-time production data from their machines and systems,” said Jon Furniss, global product manager at Rockwell Automation ( “The comprehensive view offered by this service makes it easier to access valuable machinery information, quickly address alarms, and make informed decisions to prevent downtime.”

Honeywell offers solutions to remotely monitor the health and performance of simple to complex equipment and processes for multiple industries. For example, Mobile Equipment Monitor allows real-time operations and performance monitoring of heavy mining equipment.

“These solutions provide early notification and warning that enable proactive intervention, saving millions of dollars in lost production and unnecessary maintenance costs," says Bart Winters, business manager for Asset Management Solutions at Honeywell Process Solutions (

Read Sheila Kennedy's monthly column, Technology Toolbox.