In industrial systems, vibration, whether or not it is detectable by human senses, can lead to loss of precision in controlling machinery and influence the durability and reliability of machine systems and structures.
Take, for example, a crane system. It is subject to swinging motion every time it lifts, carries, and lowers a load. Engineers take the vibrations caused by typical crane motions and other external factors such as weather into account.
However, engineers also have to be aware of abnormal vibrations, which often create unexpected problems. For example, a situation such as mechanical damage can cause an abnormal vibration that creates more significant issues, such as machinery failure resulting in downtime.
Common causes of abnormal vibrations include unbalance, misalignment, mechanical looseness, belt issues, and bearing failure, resulting in permanent damage to critical components, sudden work stoppage, and even disaster.
“When something breaks, it’s too late, and you have no choice but to face the consequences,” says Bertrand Wascat, Product & Marketing Manager of ACOEM.
He explains that resolving an issue after the fact is known as a reactive approach. For example, a technical team jumps in at the moment of failure to remedy the problem.
“But people, tools, and spare parts are not always available to fix an issue right away, resulting in extensive downtime of critical machines and loss of revenue,” he says. “And with a reactive maintenance approach, you are just blind to what is the current health status of your assets and whether or not it’s going to fail at any time. You simply have no critical assessment capabilities.”
Wascat says that a better approach is predictive maintenance because it allows teams to monitor machines and identify potential issues before they happen. A predictive maintenance approach also enables teams to schedule maintenance accordingly to ensure that all people, tools, and spare parts are available.
With this approach, organizations can achieve the dual benefits of optimizing costs and reducing downtime to a minimum, according to Wascat.
“You know which action is carried out and can target up to zero hours of unexpected downtime as you can potentially manage all maintenance actions during scheduled shutdowns or other scheduled activities,” he says.
“Organizations can also schedule the maintenance in a less critical period, putting less pressure on production. For example, low wind season equals lower energy production for a wind turbine application which equals less production loss due to maintenance stoppage,” Wascat says.
By detecting faults early, teams can make the necessary repairs before a machine failure event, helping organizations avoid unexpected downtime.
The predictive maintenance approach is well-known in today’s industrial systems, according to Wascat, and everyone understands its benefits. However, the execution of predictive maintenance remains challenging for many organizations for three primary reasons:
A lack the resources, availability, and skills management to execute the program.
Ineffective management leadership and communication across the different services.
The technical inability to capture data relevant to the applications that need to be monitored in order to achieve reliability goals.
Here, ACOEM and Schneider Electric can provide a joint solution to address these challenges and help organizations get on the path to taking informed action.
Integrated technology for real-time data capture and analysis – a differentiator
A differentiating factor in predictive maintenance is technology. For example, modern vibration monitoring and analysis applications, like those offered by ACOEM, function as a countermeasure to predict problems caused by vibration before they happen.
By leveraging the latest Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities in EcoStruxure, ACOEM provides industrial organizations with a more open, scalable, and interoperable platform that caters to organizations seeking to benefit from advanced vibration analysis technology.
Vibration analytical data that provides clear, concise, and easy-to-understand information enables reliability managers and proactive maintenance teams to make smarter decisions, according to Wascat.
This is a crucial area where ACOEM’s solutions working with EcoStruxure deliver customers immense value.
“The value our joint offer brings from a technology standpoint is the ability to capture the right data at the right time and correlate vibration monitoring with process information for various applications we can address together,” says Wascat. “And we have running installations in the industry where our systems are working together to deliver higher-end solutions to our joint customers.”
For customers, the highest levels of reliability in industrial machinery help solve some of their most pressing enterprise challenges: preventing unexpected production stoppages, achieving maintenance cost savings, and optimizing safety.
Wascat explains that avoiding wasting maintenance resources enables organizations to focus teams on core reliability improvements of critical areas, resulting in improved performance.
Addressing complexity and labor skills shortage
Industrial organizations have been particularly hard hit by the exit of highly skilled workers with expertise in machines and automation technologies critical for modernizing industrial processes. It matters even more today. Supply chain disruptions and reduced availability of raw materials around the globe have industrial and manufacturing enterprises struggling to regain momentum.
When it comes to vibration measurement technology, high-level skills are needed. But there is currently a labor skills shortage area in this area due to the pandemic.
“There are also fewer people who are less experienced because more people are retiring from the field,” says Wascat.
Wascat explains that the retirement trend started before the pandemic, but the pandemic has strongly accentuated it. “The absence of experienced, highly trained people in the field to carry out the job cannot simply be replaced with a less skilled workforce,” he says.
Here, technology can play a critical role in addressing the labor skills shortage, according to Wascat. He explains that because ACOEM solutions are easier to deploy and integrate with EcoStruxure, individuals who are not highly trained in vibration analysis can help ensure reliability in industrial machinery.
For example, machinery health indicators, diagnosis, and recommendations processed by the ACOEM system can be automatically integrated into EcoStruxure™ Machine Advisor.
Artificial intelligence (AI) offers additional value. ACOEM solutions leverage AI to provide actionable data to people with limited training in vibration analysis “so they can start doing their jobs and benefiting from it starting on Day 1,” Wascat says.
He explains that ACOEM’s solutions leverage AI to learn the behavior of any industrial machinery and translate the vibration analysis data collected from machines into a language that people can understand. This allows them to take informed action.
Enhanced communication through the ecosystem: From data analysis to action
Unexpected breakdowns, safety issues, and increased maintenance costs are among the top concerns for decision-makers in industrial organizations.
Ensuring assets are always available for production when needed and optimizing operational safety, efficiency, and profitability requires having the ability to capture and analyze in real-time, according to Wascat.
But for many organizations, it isn’t easy to get the data collected and analyzed. For example, the process of data collection for critical machines using manual measurements or instruments can be unsuitable, expensive, and sometimes near impossible in dangerous environments and long-distance industrial applications.
How can an organization shorten the path between monitoring and taking informed action in scenarios like these?
“We have to anticipate everything that a customer can’t see,” he says.
To facilitate operations management, everyone involved in maintaining industrial machinery in operational conditions needs to be able to capture the right data at the right time. This is especially true for C-level decision-makers.
"C-level decision-makers need to make informed decisions in real-time on their operations and maintenance priorities without delay," Wascat says.
He explains that ACOEM’s solutions integrated with EcoStruxure provide instantaneous results and enable sharing of critical information throughout the whole ecosystem, so that the right people needed access to the data can view it and determine next steps.
Among the benefits of having enhanced communication throughout the ecosystem, are optimized production quality, maximized uptime, and improved throughput of processes,” he notes.
Explore how ACOEM’s predictive maintenance software for vibration analysis, NEST i4.0, integrates with EcoStruxure through Modbus and OPC UA connectivity to address industrial challenges.
A multi-lingual Global Marketing & Digital Communication/Community Management specialist, mostly involved in Sales enablement & Digital transformation. Born in Morocco, grown up in France, studied in England, worked in the US, I like to consider myself as a world citizen who treasures relationship building, intellectual curiosity & learning agility.