Using sensors to improve predictive maintenance in facilities

Sensors designed to monitor and track vibration can help reduce potential breakdowns and reduce downtime in manufacturing facilities.

By Chris Vavra June 20, 2023
Courtesy: Chris Vavra, CFE Media and Technology

Predictive maintenance insights

  • Sensors can help users gain insights into their machinery and help them determine when something needs to be repaired or replaced.
  • Asset performance management (APM) can give the user insights into what they are seeing and help them make better decisions and avoid potential downtime.

Most users don’t know when assets should be scheduled for maintenance or when they should be replaced, which can cause many issues for manufacturers. Downtime is a major challenge that continues to be a major issue that is not only expensive, but can have lasting effects. Knowing when to repair or replace a piece of equipment ahead of time is a major priority for manufacturers.

Rotating equipment, in particular, plays a key role in manufacturing facilities, said Achal Nath, senior director, offering management at Honeywell in his presentation “How predictive maintenance enables proactive, flexible operations” at Honeywell Users Group in Orlando.

“Rotating equipment is everywhere in industrial facilities,” Nath said. “A large one will have 10 to 15,000 pieces of rotating equipment.”

Solving problems utilizing predictive maintenance through Internet of Things (IoT)-based solutions can add billions in economic value. To do that, technology providers need to ease installation while enhancing interoperability and cybersecurity.

“We envision a world where all rotating equipment is maintained based on health and data,” Nath said.

Achal Nath, senior director, offering management at Honeywell in his presentation “How predictive maintenance enables proactive, flexible operations” at Honeywell Users Group in Orlando. Courtesy: Chris Vavra, CFE Media and Technology

Achal Nath, senior director, offering management at Honeywell in his presentation “How predictive maintenance enables proactive, flexible operations” at Honeywell Users Group in Orlando. Courtesy: Chris Vavra, CFE Media and Technology

Using analytics and cloud-based software to gather, retrieve data

Nath said they are using their Versatilis equipment health monitor to detect vibration and send the data collected from the rotating equipment and send it to the cloud-based software to provide insights, isolate root causes and alert the users of any issues as well as provide a daily report on how the equipment is performing.

“Rotating equipment doesn’t fail suddenly,” Nath said. “They fail over a period of time. Vibration is a complex data set and it’s hard to get reliable data consistently. You want to have something that can provide insights and diagnostics.” He added there isn’t a good traditional way to measure vibration. Sending people out has often been the first choice, but it is dull, tedious work and there is also a potential safety risk. Especially if the rotating equipment is in a dangerous setting like a chemical facility.

At the same time, Nath said they don’t want companies to perform a teardown of their facility. “No one wants to run cables in an existing facility,” Nath said. “Lot of technology made in an earlier era when communication was really difficult. What we’re trying to do is keep all of that and enhance what is already there.”

Asset performance management benefits

Collecting the data is only part of the challenge. Once they’re loaded into the system, Nath said they use asset performance management (APM) to process and evaluate the data.

“Raw and processed data from devices is sent to cloud-based software and analyzed,” Nath said. “The information is contextualized for action.

The program they use, Honeywell Forge Performance+, is able to monitor asset health, asset performance optimization, reliability and can turn insights into actions.

Nath said there are many benefits an APM can provide including:

  • Reducing unplanned downtime

  • Reduce production losses

  • Reduced maintenance costs

  • Increased throughput and energy efficiency.

The equipment health monitor, Nath said, is designed to initially monitor vibration and acoustics, but it will soon expand to energy harvesting.

Chris Vavra, web content manager, CFE Media and Technology, cvavra@cfemedia.com.


Author Bio: Chris Vavra is web content manager for CFE Media and Technology.