ACCORDING to FutureBridge, 20% of industrial machinery manufacturers are expected to invest 10% of their annual revenues in the next three years on digitalisation. However, historically, pumps and valves have been among the last devices to be digitalised in plants. Here, Marek Lukaszczyk, Europe and Middle East marketing manager at the motors and drives specialist WEG, looks at how Industry 4.0 has evolved to now support increased equipment life in pumps.
Industry 4.0 technologies, like advanced diagnostics and machine-to-machine communications, are being increasingly used in manufacturing environments and are proven to enhance overall equipment effectiveness (OEE). In fact, a Gartner study indicates that 80% of organisations surveyed that adopted the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) have achieved better-than-expected results.
On left, a pump descending into the shaft, while on the right is a new pump being lifted into place
These technologies benefit maintenance to a significant degree, by reducing time and costs. Thanks to the flexibility and decreasing cost of sensors, these advantages can be increasingly applied to industrial valves and pumps.
Operating conditions, such as heat, usually change during the life cycle of a pump, so much that a pump no longer runs at the optimum operating point. The load usually peaks at shutoff, at which point long-term operation can reduce pump component life and reliability.
This also applies to newly-installed pumps. Plant managers should look to digitally optimise a pump’s performance, keeping this as simple as possible by avoiding the use of complex analytics. But where do they begin?
A good starting point is to align new digital platforms with a plant’s maintenance strategy ― whether the strategy is corrective, preventive or predictive. Failure to have a proper maintenance strategy can impact the total cost of ownership (TCO) of the pump and the facility’s overall bottom line.
For example, digital solutions, like WEG’s motion fleet management platform (MFM), monitor the operational status of several industrial assets. MFM also uses cloud computing and IIoT technologies that are deployable across a range of industrial assets, including industrial pumps.
Used mainly by maintenance engineers, the technology monitors OEE through data collection and processing, generates valuable real-time insights to share with plant managers and leads to improved asset management.
For instance, the software enables new verifications, such as pump surface temperature, for engineers to migrate from component substitution to a fully-fledged 4.0 maintenance plan. In turn, this reduces damage and wear on industrial assets and, therefore, reduces unplanned downtime.
Software platforms also benefit asset management. They allow periodic data collection and advanced data processing, where valuable insights are generated to monitor the operational status of several industrial assets. A key benefit of software is improving communication between the software and the sensors, which in turn reduces the time between failure detection and maintenance.
In addition, specialist modules with AI provide automated fault diagnosis based on historic data and trends. This makes it possible to analyse the forecasted deterioration of equipment before applying predictive maintenance. This not only helps establish predictive maintenance plans, but also significantly reduces unplanned downtime and costs.
Returning to our aforementioned example, WEG’s MFM data processing is managed both on edge and in the cloud. This not only makes the technology flexible to suit different companies’ needs, but it also holds the key to increased equipment life.
Better data management allows faster reactions at the device level, where the sensors are installed. This leads to comprehensive data analysis in the cloud, including historical data, and automated fault diagnosis.
All of this data can be presented in easy-to-understand reports distributed among plant engineers and maintenance teams. Moreover, remote monitoring can keep workers out of harm’s way to prevent injury.
As digitalised solutions become more flexible, there is no longer a reason why pumps and valves should be the last priority for digitalisation.
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