Getting Your Hands on Smart Tools

Getting Your Hands on Smart Tools

Forget the IIoT and Industry 4.o buzzwords. We’re not interested in 10 to 15 years down the road or what the factory of the future is going to look like. There are plenty of industrial, automotive and aerospace applications today where smart manufacturing can impact a power transmission system. Here’s a look at some real-world applications where smart components are benefitting manufacturing operations minus all the tech-talk and prognostication. Call it “The Future is Right Now,” or “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Smart Manufacturing.”

Stay tuned for further developments on IIoT and smart manufacturing in upcoming issues of Power Transmission Engineering.  

Voith Offers Intelligent Monitoring System for Driveline Performance

Voith introduces Dtect, its intelligent monitoring system that provides real-time data of driveline performance and coupling status. Based on this, the operator can take actions to prevent potential problems and avoid unplanned downtime. By supporting better decision making, Dtect helps to increase productivity as well as significantly lower production and maintenance costs.

Dtect enables comprehensive monitoring of a driveline’s torque limiting couplings. It was specifically designed to work with couplings, such as Voith’s SmartSet, which serve to prevent machine damage in high-value rotating equipment. It is also possible to upgrade existing couplings with this intelligent system.

Slippage monitoring for maximized uptime

Through continuous measurement of the slip angle, Dtect accurately identifies and monitors coupling slippage caused by high torque peaks in a driveline. This allows operators to take action if necessary, for example by adjusting the load of the driveline or by performing a controlled shutdown. As a result, operators will experience increased uptime, reduced maintenance and lower spare parts cost.

Data analysis ensures optimum performance

Dtect continuously collects driveline performance data that can be analyzed to ensure maximum productivity. It uses an updated quadruple sensor setup that increases the sensing range without affecting the resolution of the expanded measurement. By analyzing the slip behavior of the coupling, the operator can evaluate if the system is running at full capacity and, if not, adjust the parameters accordingly. Further, proactive coupling maintenance can be performed to avoid costly downtime.

Simultaneous monitoring through a single interface

Dtect now makes it possible to monitor multiple couplings at the same time. It assesses each coupling individually and communicates the multiple data streams to the common interface. In this way, Dtect allows for simultaneous monitoring of all connected drivelines. Operators benefit from comprehensive, real-time status information provided by one central system.

Easy integration for platform-independent data monitoring

Equipped with Modbus TCP/IP communications, Dtect is easily integrated into established process information networks. Given its high flexibility, the system can be adopted with ease to other communication standards to fit a wide range of requirements.

HMI touch panel for outstanding ease-of-use

Dtect can be fitted with an integrated HMI touch panel. It offers the highest usability, better control and status information at a glance. With visual warning indicators, the system assists operators in making decisions and taking the necessary actions in any given situation. (

SKF Pulse

Offers Simplified Inspection and Machine Health Data Collection

SKF Pulse combines an easy-to-use handheld sensor with a new mobile app, allowing users to quickly monitor rotating equipment and machine health to predict issues and improve reliability before operations are impacted.

For more advanced analysis, users can request an SKF Pulse Check directly via the app. The request goes to an SKF diagnostics center where experts remotely analyze the machine data and respond with recommended corrective actions to improve equipment performance, if required.

SKF Pulse has an intuitive visual interface that guides users through the data collection process. Users enter asset information that automatically configures alarm thresholds based on ISO standards. Thresholds can also be customized if desired.

The durable SKF Pulse sensor features:

Velocity, acceleration and temperature measurement of rotating equipment

Bluetooth communication with iOS mobile devices

Rugged industrial design – drop test of six feet and water- and dust-resistant (IP65)

Rechargeable lithium battery (with eight hours normal usage)

Demonstrations of the SKF Pulse took place during a recent technical press event in Philadelphia.

Designed for MRO managers and staff in a wide range of industries — including food and beverage, cement, marine, oil and gas, pulp and paper, steel, mining, chemical processing and other industries — SKF Pulse provides a cost-effective entry point for a do-it-yourself, preventive maintenance program.

Unlimited assets can be monitored with one sensor. For extra scalability, more sensors can be added as part of a broader vibration analysis program. Data and asset information can be shared throughout the facility.

“Customers wanted an easier way to conduct routine vibration checks with the ability to quickly get expert help if they need it,” said Josh Flemming, strategic marketing, SKF USA Inc. “SKF Pulse offers a combination of features that our competitors don’t, including easy setup, portability, effortless data collection and immediate insight, regardless of the equipment manufacturer.” (

Mitsubishi Electric and Schaeffler

Partner on Digitalization and Brownfield Facilities to Enhance System Efficiency

This easy-to-integrate solution has been developed by Mitsubishi Electric in conjunction with its partner Schaeffler, a member of the e F@ctory Alliance network.

Today’s plant automation systems provide transparent monitoring of system status, plus tools such as condition monitoring or predictive maintenance – all help to reduce unscheduled downtime. However, what about brownfield installations with legacy equipment? It is not uncommon to see plant equipment still working after 30 years. Can these systems be integrated into value chains so that the requirements of modern production can be met? We all prefer production and maintenance decisions to be made based on effective monitoring rather than fixed schedules or guesswork.

Certainly, the requirements for digitizing such systems are demanding: for most brownfield systems, there was no OPC UA available of during the original installation. There probably won’t even be an Ethernet interface. But, there are solutions to collect a lot of system data that can be used to improve overall system efficiency.

For example, sensors can be connected to the power supply to help ensure efficient energy management. That information, in conjunction with the recording of production machinery start and stop times via decentralized I/O, can provide essential comparative data. Cost-effective sensors and/or camera systems that can register and record pass/fail product data can also be added at different points on the production line.

Users can monitor their plants condition by implementing a Smart Condition Monitoring system: here, a vibration sensor is attached to rotating machinery such as fans, gearboxes and motors. It is not necessary to access or change the machine control system. The sensor is simply connected via a Power-over-Ethernet cable. This easy-to-integrate solution has been developed by Mitsubishi Electric in conjunction with its partner Schaeffler, a member of the e F@ctory Alliance network.

Digitalization of brownfield systems: when and where to start

Older systems, while reliable, will almost certainly be more vulnerable to failure simply by virtue of their age. Yet, the savings that can be made and the ROI that can be achieved by making repairs and reducing downtime in existing equipment can be better and realized faster than investing in new machines. Furthermore, if a brownfield automation system is directly linked to the production and value chain, it should also be digitally integrated.

The measures which are easiest to implement should be looked at first. These include energy management and the recording of machine status data to provide an insight into overall system efficiency. At the same time, condition monitoring should be implemented as the basis for predictive maintenance to reduce downtime.

The more data that can be collected, the more opportunities there are for system optimization through real-time edge or cloud analysis. But what is important is to examine the possibilities for individual systems, taking into account the return on investment in each case. Certainly, though, in many cases old brownfield installations can be made fit for a digital future with minimum effort. Companies will benefit from more transparency and flexibility of their production facilities, which is a prerequisite in order to remain competitive on a global scale. Time to market and the ability to produce individualized products cost-effectively will depend on the degree of digital automation. It is therefore a question of ‘when’ not ‘if’.

Next level: artificial intelligence within manufacturing

Companies that are implementing changes now for the digitalization of their production will also be in the best position to reap the benefits of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI). These technologies, which are yet to mature, will build on the key elements of analyzing smart data and big data to optimize production.

Analysis of smart data and big data enables better production decisions to be made, and the techniques of deep learning and machine learning are emerging to automate the planning of production actions. This lays the foundations for the broader use of AI to achieve maximum flexibility in volatile markets. In this way individualized products can be produced for the same price as mass-produced products. Smart data, big data and the analysis of these in conjunction with AI will support users to realize market requirements.

Time to market is vital, so machine changeovers for new products must be as fast as possible and those machines have to be able to produce perfect products right from the start of the production run. This will get products to customers quickly and optimizes resource efficiency.


Lenze Americas

Provides Smart Solution for Material Handling Technology

Lenze Smart Motor Group.

Lenze Americas recently introduced a fully-integrated solution that provides plant operators with an energy-efficient alternative for many applications.

Conveyor applications have to perform three diverse tasks, each of which places entirely different demands on the drive technology. At the start, a high breakaway torque must be generated to accelerate the load. Once the nominal conveyor speed has been achieved, only the friction of the mechanical design needs to be overcome. Much lower torques are sufficient for this. This changes again for pallet alignment, namely when they are pushed against the limit stop and the rollers or chains are forced to slide briefly underneath the pallet, creating high frictional resistance.

The energy required for this accounts for 95 to 97 percent of the overall costs during the service life of a drive. Common geared motors, which are operated directly on the 50/60-Hz using contactors and/or motor-starter combinations, are not particularly efficient in this case. This is because they need to be configured to suit the starting torque – and are then over dimensioned during the phase of normal conveyor speed. Even the use of frequency inverters, which typically provide up to twice the overload (180 to 200 percent) during the start-up process, cannot fully resolve this problem. They result in additional costs and increased engineering effort, as well as providing a complex functional range that needs to be paid for by the OEM and end customer, but is essentially useless for their horizontal conveyor technology.

Lenze’s solution addresses these current challenges relating to drive technology for horizontal conveying. As a fully-integrated solution with a dedicated electronic control unit, it provides up to four times the nominal torque during acceleration and alignment. Accordingly, it can be sized based on the required power during constant operation and runs at almost optimum performance in this mode and not in the less efficient partial load range.

Lenze Smart Motor g350.

The solution features the Smart Motor with g350 gearbox, Smart Motor with g500gearbox, in-cabinet c300 controller and I/O 1000 modules, remote fieldbus I/O and IR sensors. Lenze’s g500 gearbox with Smart Motor and the g350 with Smart Motor offer the simplicity of a motor direct on line with just the right features of an electronically controlled motor. They work without a contactor or starter; fixed speeds can be set at will; highest energy efficiency requirements are met; and they can be conveniently operated via a smartphone.

The entire conveyor concept offers:

Costs reduced by use of a smaller cabinet, less cable, less engineering time, less manufacturing time, fewer part numbers, and less operational costs.

Examples of increased functionality include: defined Start/Stop ramps, better energy efficiency, standardization/modularity, simplicity/reduced complexity, and a flexible automation concept.

With five adjustable speed levels – and the infinite selection of rotating direction – definable start and stop ramps, as well as an electronic contactor and motor protection function, the Smart Motor’s integrated electronics eliminate the components, reversing contactor and motor protection circuits, as well as the polarity reversal required for mains motors. This enables space savings of up to two-thirds of these components were previously installed in a control cabinet. In the Smart Motor, speed levels are switched independently of the fieldbus using 24 V signals.

The 400-480 V cabling can be implemented with a stub so that entire drive trains can be built on a single supply line. The control unit is also prepared for such a design: in this case, entire units with several drives can easily be integrated. Wireless technology can be used to transmit predefined speeds and acceleration ramps, as well as to optimize speed levels, by smartphone – without the need for expert knowledge or extensive staff training. Braking is also controlled electronically. This ensures that a constant braking distance is maintained at all times, regardless of the load. (

Categories: Editors Choice

About Author

Matthew Jaster

Matthew Jaster, Senior Editor, has a B.A. in journalism from Columbia College Chicago and has 15+ years of writing and editing experience in automotive, manufacturing, engineering, law and arts and entertainment.

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