Monitoring and Maintenance Combined

| Environmental Testing

IIoT based modular system of sensors and oilers for machine bearing maintenance

Monitoring system links in with automatic lubrication to provide timely maintenance based on machine condition

The industrial internet of things (IIoT) and the proliferation of sensors connected through it provide a greater opportunity for engineers to gain greater insight into the performance of plant and machinery. This insight can take the form of snapshots of critical operating parameters to indicate that the machines are operating normally or it can be a trend indicating a deterioration of the condition of a bearing, for example. In this case, the measurement can trigger any action required by maintenance teams to carry out a repair or routine maintenance task to prevent the machine from failing.

In some cases, the highly connected nature of the IIoT provides the opportunity to directly link the sensor output to an automated maintenance operation.

A recent example of this is the combination of one of the condition monitoring systems from industrial engineering specialist, Schaeffler with a set of three variants of sensors so that wireless condition monitoring can be performed and combined with an intelligent, interconnected lubricator for automated lubrication to form one system, the OPTIME monitoring and maintenance solution. This creates a cost-effective predictive maintenance method, which effectively and sustainably minimises downtime and high maintenance costs in production facilities.

Bearing Technology

The OPTIME system was created on the back of Schaeffler’s long-standing expertise in the fields of bearing technology, vibration analysis and lubrication with a product design that is consistently geared towards the day-to-day tasks of maintenance teams. Bearings are a common issue in industrial maintenance, particularly regarding rotating machinery. The requirement for lubrication manifests itself through changes in the vibration and acoustic profile of the running bearing, both of which are straightforward to measure using established sensor systems.

In the case of the OPTIME system, Schaeffler believes that it provides support to plant operators by offering particularly convenient initial operation, thanks to its simple plug-and-play function. Even for complex set-ups, hundreds of OPTIME elements can be installed and integrated within a very short time period. A subsequent expansion can be carried out quickly and reliably at any time.

The company’s approach has been one of simplifying setup and operation so that routine, automated machine maintenance can be realistically achieved with low investment cost. Once installed, further benefits include increased efficiency in scheduling maintenance procedures. Schaeffler believes that the use of the OPTIME’s smart operating concept and its intuitive mobile app with a simple user interface make it easy for users to gain an overview of its operation.

Engineers operating the system are supported in their day-to-day maintenance tasks with easy-to-understand warning messages and automatic analyses as well as receiving help with the data-based creation of maintenance plans.

By taking a modular approach to the creation of its OPTIME system, Schaeffler is able to continue with its development into other areas of machine maintenance and add further new elements to the range based on the experience that it gains in future customer projects in various sectors and applications.

Jonathan Newell
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