We’ve been hearing for quite a few years that the IoT will be affecting virtually every type of component. And now, thanks to ABB’s new Ability Smart Sensor for Dodge mounted bearings, the IoT has now come to this traditional motion control component.
The sensor is a part of the company’s Ability Digital Powertrain, which enables health checks for bearings. The smart sensor technology provides an early indicator of any potential problems by assessing the condition of bearings from vibration and temperature information. This helps to prevent downtime on applications such as bulk material handling conveyors typically found in industries that include mining, aggregate, grain handling and cement, as well as in applications for the food and beverage and air handling sectors.
Artur Rdzanek, product manager for sensor technologies, Dodge mechanical products at ABB, explained that customers want to be able to analyze all the data points in their machinery systems.
“This is why we have machine learning, this is why we have artificial intelligence. We cannot stop this process, it’s already happening. This is why we moved, we would like to help our customers to go through this transformation,” Rdzanek said.
According to Rdzanek, the ABB team spent roughly three years developing the product. He said that it wasn’t an easy thing, because they had to deal with a combination of hardware, software, firmware, cloud computing, and cyber security issues to complete it.
The Ability Smart Sensor for mounted bearings uses the latest algorithms to assess, manage and ensure the bearings’ performance. An estimated 80% of bearing failures are lubrication related — and a bearing that is running hot can indicate that proper lubrication procedures are not in place. For example, monitoring a bearing’s vibration can indicate potential system problems.
The smart sensor easily mounts to the bearing and communicates wirelessly via a smartphones or other device. This capability keeps employees safe, enabling easy access to the health data of bearings in locations that may be difficult or dangerous to reach.
“Bearings are critical components in conveyor systems and are often the first indicator of a system problem,” said Rdzanek. “The display of the health status of the bearing enables operators to quickly and safely identify a potential problem, which allows them to schedule maintenance and prevent unplanned downtime.”
Matt Frady, General Product Manager for ABB, stressed that the sensor product has five main benefits for customers:
- Increased safety — Traditionally, routine maintenance can introduce safety hazards as employees are working around complex rotating equipment … or trying to reach bearings that are difficult or dangerous to access. With the Ability Smart Sensor, the capability to monitor bearings remotely allows maintenance and other relevant personnel to safely get a health check on the bearing without actually touching the equipment.
- Increased productivity — Not knowing the health of bearings leaves a system at risk for untimely equipment failure. This can lead to process interruption, unplanned downtime, and ultimately lost revenue. Here, trending data can help to develop patterns for monitoring of performance and eventually the ability to predict replacement schedules.
- Reduced maintenance — Before, maintenance was always simply a routine schedule based on a combination of experience, training and how it had always been done in the plant. Now, the maintenance can be planned according to actual needs rather than based on generic or arbitrary schedules.
- Elimination of unplanned stops — Normally, the user has little visibility of when component failure may occur. With the Ability Smart Sensor, warnings on decreasing health status allow personnel to plan maintenance … before there is a problem and the system is down.
Simple to set up and use
The system is also easy to use. It was designed for quick and easy installation and activation. The sensor is battery operated, with no wiring, special tools or special software required. Dodge mounted bearings come sensor-ready with drilled, threaded, and plugged installation holes. The smart sensor is installed by removing the plug and threading the sensor into the provided receptacle. But retrofitting is not a problem — with a special adapter sensor, installation on existing Dodge bearings is easy, simple and keeps the original functionality of grease stud. The sensor is activated simply by pressing the LED activation switch.
The company is offering complimentary access to ABB Ability for data trending. ABB Ability brings together all of the company’s digital solutions and services, each built from a unique combination of sector understanding, technology knowledge and digital expertise. Here, customers are able to easily compare performance data of bearings across systems or plants.
Advanced conditional monitoring can now be performed right in your hand, via the Smart Sensor App. Designed with ease in mind, the app allows you to get up to date information on all bearings at any time, no matter where you are. Simply download ABB Ability Smart Sensor App for any iOS or Android based device. Some of the features are:
- Intuitive interface: The simple, graphical interface is easy to use and understand.
- Traffic light system: Bearing health is displayed with a traffic light icon to quickly show users the state of that bearing.
- Push notifications: When conditions change, you can be notified immediately. The app allows you to get notifications based on your preferences.
- Constant communication: When events happen, everyone in the organization can know. This also allows records of who closes the events and what comments are made.
- Event log: All maintenance performed on a bearing can be scheduled and recorded in the app, providing an easy to access record of service for each bearing.
- Asset identification: Each bearing is registered through a part number, which provides a reference when it comes time to replace.
- Access in remote locations: When bearings are located in difficult to reach locations, out of mobile device range, sensor data can be automatically sent thru Bluetooth Low Energy to the ABB Ability platform using a Gateway. Up to 20 Smart Sensors can be connected to one Gateway.