Wearable Tech for Your Machines
One fine morning, you wake up to the sound of chirping birds. After a morning jog, your watch gives you an alert on an abnormal heartbeat. You consult a professional, problem is identified, nipped at the bud and you go home feeling safe. Everything that could’ve been said about the marvels of modern technology, has already been saying. But what about your machines? Just the way one must treat her body as a temple, she should also ensure that her revenue-generating assets are in pink of health.
Often, machine breakdowns do not occur out of the blue. There are subtle hints in operating behavior that are missed. These signs accumulate over time and end up in machine breakdowns. Engine knocking, motor vibration, winding, and coolant temperatures are just a few of the several factors which indicate machine misbehavior.
Challenge faced is the endless machine types with their own exclusivities. Finding a single answer calls for something compact and versatile. Like a smartwatch. Something which can fit on your machine and stream its health and performance. Something like Magic Box.
For the sake of simplicity, assume a 20-year-old induction motor-driven centrifugal pump. This piece of legacy has been running 14 hours a day since the day of commissioning. At the first glance, user can easily fetch the energy consumption of the pump and get an approximate idea of its efficiency. But energy consumption barely gives any insight on the health of the equipment. It is not surprising to conclude that efficiency today will be few points lesser than the one 20 years ago. Performance of any machine goes south with age. This holds equally true for engines as well as a spring wound toy.
We grease the bearings, conduct periodic maintenances and operate the machine in optimal ranges, just to impede this very process of aging. But there are instances where underlying signs of potential breakdowns are missed and not addressed during these services. The mechanisms for identifying these symptoms need to be as non-intrusive as possible to keep tampering of the original equipment to the minimum. Apart from maintaining structural integrity, non-intrusive solutions ensure quick, easy and versatile fitment which can be installed on variety of equipment.
Coming back to the legacy pump. As mentioned earlier, electrical parameters say very less about the actual health of the machine. More obvious factors are vibration and operating temperatures. Vibration characteristics of the motor can split into individual harmonic components using Fourier Transform. Once separated, most prominent harmonics along with the fundamental component in the curve gives us a direct indication of the machine health.
Cooling system of any setup is designed to keep the temperature of the machine below certain values. Once these thresholds are crossed, we know something is not right. In a pump, windings and bearings are two major areas where heat is generated. High temperatures in winding indicate high copper losses whereas high bearing temperatures might be the result of friction due to wear and tear. Though greasing might address friction to a certain extent, it plays absolutely no role in reducing copper losses. The above instances are applicable to any machine with little or no changes in the concept. For e.g. winding temperature in pump will be analogous to the coolant temperature in liquid cooled engines while bearing temperature and machine vibrations exist in both.
Beauty of this approach is that the sensors used can be fitted externally on machine body at convenient locations, thus making the solution versatile while saving time and effort.
Tor Magic Box is a non-intrusive health monitoring device for your machine. It has umpteen interfaces to integrate inputs while communicating with Masters (Tor Edge Gateways) via Modbus, CAN and serial or wirelessly through Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). Apart from temperature, humidity and vibration sensors, Magic Box also features on board accelerometer which makes it suitable for applications like driver behavior monitoring and the like.
Magic Box is a wearable tech which helps you Talk to Your Machines.