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IoT connected motors for smart asset management

The biggest single energy cost to industry is running motors. They are the workhorse for many industry types, from conveyors to manufacturing, motors can be found throughout process and production plants.

The thing with motors is that detecting any real issues with performance can be problematic. Unless regular routine maintenance is carried out spotting a potential problem can be potluck. Motors will have operating characteristics that if measured can provide key data into how the motor is performing. This data can be used to determine if the motor is in need of a service, replacement or whether there is something in the drive train that needs closer inspection.

First of all, here is a basic visual aid that can spot whether there is something wrong with a motor under operation. Looking at the chain tension is a giveaway, if it's too slack then there usually is something wrong with the motor, it could be a bearings issue that is affecting the drive shaft, perhaps?

But other than this it will be hard to determine if there are any other issues with the motor. Being able to monitor the characteristics under operation will provide a lot more data to determine the true health of a motor, and more importantly, this data is at hand in real-time, giving you the chance to prevent any major breakdown occurring.

Once you start collecting data then you can start to move into the realms of planned maintenance. The data gathered can lead to less reliance on holding spares, for some facilities such as RS Nuneaton where over 2000 motors are operation daily, the cost alone in holding motor spares is huge.

The days of holding £m's worth of spares could soon be over with data-driven analytics. This is one of the main benefits of Smart Asset Management.

There are many characteristics that can determine whether a motor is running as smoothly as it should be, but the main three are vibration, temperature and current. Any variation to these conditions under operation should be treated as a concern because this is fundamentally an early warning sign that something significant could be about to happen, and steps should be taken to omit any potential breakdown.

With over 7km of conveyors systems at RS Nuneaton, it's essential that the motors controlling the operation are kept in top condition and using data analysis is one of the key ingredients in providing the facilities team with the information they need.

Recently the facilities team identified a need to monitor the performance of two critical elements within the conveyor system. These are the 'lowerator' and elevator which pass the packaging totes between floors during the order fulfilment process.

The solution was to monitor the current drawn during operation. If the current was to exceed the normal operating current, then an issue around the motors being overloaded would be noticed quickly and a works order could be generated. This allows for further investigation and any fix to be applied before a major problem develops. The cost of a major breakdown on a conveyor system where 10,000's of orders a processed daily runs into the £1m's. This can be prevented by ensuring that all key points and monitored and the analytics from the data acted upon in a timely manner.

For RS Nuneaton the solution was to retrofit Pressac CT Clamps to the motor control boards. Quite simply it was a case of clipping the clamps around the conductor, mount the transmitter to send data and link to the asset management system.

Below is the motor control cabinet with the Pressac CT Clamp and transmitter fitted.

The lowerator and elevator are critical to the smooth running of the facility.

With the Pressac CT Clamps fitted data is send to the cloud and then present via a dashboard within the facilities control room. From here it is a case of monitoring the process and any anomalies trigger an alarm on the dashboard and generate a works order.

 For more information on Pressac click here

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