The ever-increasing demand for more infrastructure, goods, food, basically anything that consumers around the world require, is driven largely but a growing global population coupled with rapidly advancing technologies. This, in turn, puts mounting pressure on mines and industrial plants to produce more, faster and cheaper. High machine availability and worker productivity are key to achieving maximum production and overall plant efficiency. Operators are subsequently demanding more from their equipment in terms of performance, reliability and efficiency while at the same time employing safety and environmental best practices.
With downtime simply not an option, machines and equipment are expected to run ultra-reliably for longer hours. Given that they typically operate in extremely harsh environments, monitoring the health of these machines and maintaining them regularly are fundamental to optimizing their performance for a more efficient and productive plant operation. Manual monitoring by technicians walking around with portable devices and doing equipment maintenance more often with fewer resources can be challenging. Added to this, tough conditions often hamper maintenance work and can also compromise worker safety.
SKF recommends that operators switch from a manual to an automated machine monitoring system and data collection process that will enable operators to increase the availability of their rotating equipment. With SKF Enlight Collect IMx-1 vibration and temperature sensors, operators will be able to collect critical data on the health of their machines and equipment more often from locations that were previously inaccessible, requiring fewer technicians and increasing worker safety.
Moreover, by collecting the data more frequently i.e. within hours or days instead of weeks or even months, operators can detect problems more quickly and predict machine failures in advance, allowing them to proactively carry out preventative maintenance. In addition to reducing expensive unplanned downtime and maintenance costs by avoiding premature failures, operators will benefit from increased machine life cycles and optimised asset reliability.
The compact, battery-powered, easy-to- install IMx-1 sensor allows operators to build an automated machine monitoring system powered by Cloud-based IoT solutions and AI driven analytics. Mounted to a bearing housing, the sensor automatically monitors the condition of rotating parts on heavy industrial machinery and forms a scalable network to collect a range of critical health data from the rotating assets. SKF Enlight Collect IMx-1 can detect and process a host of common issues including unbalance, misalignment, high temperatures, looseness, electrically-induced vibration and early stage damage to bearings and gears.
The large volumes of wirelessly collected data is sent to a host computer network which is then uploaded to the SKF Cloud and connected to SKF Rotating Equipment Performance (R.E.P) Centres where SKF application experts conduct analyses. Automated data interpretation and expert fault verification systems allow operators to interpret large volumes of machine data, giving them invaluable insights into their rotating equipment performance (REP). With increased visibility across their entire asset network, operators will achieve their goals of high machine availability, increased productivity, improved safety and a reduced environmental impact for a sustainable, efficient and profitable plant.
The IMx-1 system relies on a ‘mesh network’ which allows sensors to relay data between each other, enabling data to be routed around radio obstacles such as pipework. As the ‘mesh network’ is self-forming, the system is quicker and easier to deploy compared to other wireless systems such as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. In addition, the innovative way in which the system handles bandwidth and the sensors’ power consumption, leads to a long battery life.
The robust SKF Enlight Collect IMx-1 has been designed specifically to achieve a tough ingress protection rating of IP69K which ensures reliable operation in harsh conditions with high exposure to dust, dirt, oil, grease, contaminants, flying debris, temperature changes, wind, rain, high-pressure hot water wash-downs and more.
Operators can easily get started with SKF Enlight Collect IMx-1 with a fee-based contract that will enable them, on their existing operating budget, to access automated predictive maintenance.