Perhaps the biggest concern in any manufacturing plant is downtime from machinery breakdown. Broken equipment causes delay in getting products out to distributors and customers. There are not only costs from repairs, but also in the potential loss of business.
It is a no-brainer that monitoring the health of critical equipment is important for a plant to be successful. Regular inspections and maintenance go a long way toward minimizing costly downtime. With the availability of remote wireless technology, inspections and maintenance can be performed more efficiently.
Conventional monitoring is a labor-intensive process that often wastes time. While it’s better to inspect a machine and find that it does not need maintenance than to not inspect at all, a more efficient process would identify what needs to be repaired and only those items needing repair would get attention from technicians.
Companies like Azima DLI and ProSoft Technology have developed remote wireless monitoring (RWM) solutions that save maintenance costs. With RWM, plants have the benefit of continuous monitoring, but only pay the initial costs of installing sensors and monitoring equipment, paying labor costs only when a technician repairs or performs maintenance.
ProSoft developed a solution for a utility power plant that used RWM. Vibration sensors were placed on cooling tower fans and transmitted vibration data to monitoring equipment. This information would then be transmitted via a wireless Ethernet modem to a monitoring system in an office computer. When vibration data indicated conditions outside of acceptable ranges, maintenance would be notified to repair the fan equipment.
Another important benefit of RWM is that by definition, it allows monitoring when equipment is not located near wired infrastructure. This is especially valuable for monitoring equipment in remote locations.
Data collected from monitoring stations can be archived for further analysis and also provided to third-party vendors where plants outsource maintenance.
The emergence of RWM is a breakthrough for any industrial plant operation. It provides the benefits of frequent equipment inspection, minimizes labor costs and allows remote sites to get just as much monitoring as accessible sites do.
Edited by Rachel Ramsey