Supply chain
Preventive maintenance made easy with ITRI's smart Prognosis Monitoring System, enabling machines to speak for themselves
Press release

Rotating equipment including motors, pumps, air and other types of compressors, decelerators, and blowers definitely plays an essential role driving economic growth in a wide variety of industrial applications. Failure of or damage to such vital equipment can result in considerable financial loss.

To prevent equipment failure from impacting production, factories that rely heavily on rotating equipment have long implemented measures such as having technicians conduct regular inspections or situating spare parts close to critical equipment for quick replacement when failure occurs. These measures are far from foolproof. For example, factory operators have no way of knowing machine conditions during operation unless an inspection is executed, resulting in frequent periods in the dark about machine conditions. In addition, when an unexpected interruption occurs on a continuous processing line, a complete run of material may have to be scrapped.

In view of this, the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) combines its own Prognosis Monitoring System (PMS) with sensors and computers (ADLINK MCM-100 machine condition monitoring systems) to form a complete system for machine health assessment, life prediction, and fault diagnosis. Fully supporting production equipment in semiconductor, optoelectronics, mechanics, petrochemical, steel, food processing, and other industries, ITRI's system can monitor and observe machine conditions at all times and issue warnings in the case of event, ensuring operations are sustained.

Diagnosing problems while minimizing machine downtime

Chun-Chieh Wang, ITRI's Manager for System Monitoring & Control Technology, points out the importance of rotating equipment as being the very heart of the manufacturing industry. Without effective assurances of equipment health, failures of critical components require operators to rely on experienced technicians with expertise and knowhow for troubleshooting chores. However, different technicians may have different opinions and identifying the problem can take some time, resulting in costly production downtime.

"Machines should be able to speak for themselves," said Wang. "All that's required is to simply install vibration sensors close to the equipment and PMS software on the MCM-100 device. The system can then collect and analyze sensor data in one shot, turning raw data into useful information. It can further send the results to the back-end supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system. Factory operators need no longer depend on experienced technicians, with indicators on the PMS allowing them to stay on top of all machine conditions in real time. A yellow indicator constitutes a prediction of the device's remaining operating life, apprising operators of deteriorating equipment health and prompting preventive maintenance if necessary. A red indicator light directs the PMS to perform fault diagnostics via characteristics check to identify failed parts, and effect prompt repairs.

As is known, rotating equipment can fail for a multitude of reasons, such as ball bearing misalignment, imbalance, bending and loosening, gear breakage and wear, and center offset. If speedy identification of the failure cause is available, the problem can be resolved immediately, saving tremendous amounts of time and cost over having to dismantle the entire system for inspection and repair.

The MCM-100 consolidates data collection, analysis, and upload in a single system

According to Wang, in the past, practical application of ITRI's PMS solution as a complete system required integration with data acquisition (DAQ) modules, industrial PCs, and a variety of other components, a process requiring considerable time and effort. The system was also bulky with an imposing footprint. In 2017, however, ITRI was introduced to the ADLINK MCM-100, an all-in-one monitoring system with built-in DAQ module and computation processing unit. Upon evaluation, ITRI decided to base its PMS solution on the MCM-100 due to its multiple advantages, including minimal footprint, low cost, support for a wide variety of I/O interfaces and wireless communication modules, high reliability, 24-bit resolution and 128kS/s sampling rate. Moreover, as a Taiwan-based vendor, ADLINK is able to provide prompt technical support and customized development for the MCM-100.

The rise of the Industry 4.0 standard has spurred widespread availability of preventive maintenance solutions considerably different from ITRI's PMS, emphasized Wang. For example, IoT products only collect data but have no analytical capability to perform health assessment, life prediction, and fault diagnostics. Artificial intelligence (AI) solutions lack domain knowhow and with no equipment failure patterns, can only analyze failure modes using their massive computation resources, like looking for a needle in a haystack. ITRI's PMS solution, on the other hand, provides in-depth knowledge of vibration data analytics, equipment prognosis, and failure characteristics specific to rotating machinery. Using simple neural networks to train models and then apply the model-based reasoning to quickly pinpoint problem causes, ITRI's PMS helps factory operators across virtually all manufacturing sectors troubleshoot much faster and effectively maximize machine uptime.

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