ABB’s ‘fitness band’ for your industrial motor

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The smart sensor to monitor and gather detailed data on the health of your low voltage motor

It’s never been easier to monitor our health. We can buy devices to check our blood pressure, temperature, pulse and even sweat; all helping us to stay fit and warn us when something starts to go wrong. The fitness band and smart watch are the latest and trendiest products on the market because they combine several monitoring functions in one convenient device.

What if there was an equivalent fitness band for monitoring the health of low voltage motors?

Condition monitoring of high and low voltage motors is not new. However, the technology conventionally needed is costly and complex. Consequently, condition monitoring of low voltage motors is rarely done except for the most critical applications. All too often, low voltage motors are simply left to run until they fail.

That’s all about to change with the new ABB remote condition monitoring solution – smart sensor. This small device is simply attached, without any hard wiring, to the motor frame. The sensor automatically monitors the heartbeat of the motor. It tracks the motor’s temperature, listens to its noise patterns, and feels its vibrations.

The gathered data is processed by algorithms and provides both an overview and detailed insight into the motor’s health. The data is then easily accessed via ABB’s cloud server.

A simple traffic light scheme gives an instant indication of each motor’s health: red means there is a critical issue that needs immediate action; yellow shows that there is an issue but maintenance can wait until the next scheduled stop; and green means all is well and the motor is running normally. The smart sensor can even automatically send an alert to an engineer if it detects a problem.

The information is accessible from various devices, such as smartphones, tablets and desktop PCs.

It sounds easy doesn’t it? But the genius behind this simplicity is ABB’s decades of low voltage motor know-how, which is used to create the advanced algorithms that assess how the motor is performing.

With this solution, gone are the days when the maintenance engineer walks the plant taking individual measurements and then manually assessing the data. Now the analysis is done automatically. Less time is needed on site, reducing costs and improving personnel safety.

Even better, unexpected stops in production caused by motor breakdowns can be virtually eliminated. Maintenance can be planned according to actual need, not on predefined schedules, time intervals or operating hours alone. Productivity is boosted, motor lifetimes extended, maintenance costs are cut and energy is saved.

But I can hear you asking if this is all just theory or a practical product. Well, we have been running pilot projects for some time in Europe and the USA and the feedback we’ve had from end users and service providers is very encouraging.

End-users like their motors being tracked automatically, enabling monitoring and analysis to provide instant insight into how their motor populations are behaving, without the huge costs and difficulties of conventional condition monitoring regimes.

The smart sensor also provides an excellent tool for service providers to offer advanced maintenance in combination with other services. For instance, they can analyze data and calculate potential energy savings, optimize maintenance schedules and propose actions to improve plant performance and reduce costs.

If the positive reactions we have had from end-users and service providers are anything to go by, then the ABB smart sensor really will become the popular fitness band for the industrial motor.

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About the author

Jo Pauwels

Managing Director, ABB Benelux, since November 2017. Jo focuses on leadership in breakthrough technology in the field of electrical energy and automation for utility companies, industry, transport and infrastructure. He gives priority to existing and potential customers, motivated and expert employees in an inspiring and healthy corporate culture. Joined ABB in 1981.
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